Friday, October 3, 2014

I am

I am a loathsome and despicable creature. Embarrassing. Annoying. My voice grates. My butt sags. My pores are large enough to park a bus in. My breathing is far too shallow. My sighs too deep. My scent must be odious or cloying if I even have one. Oh yes, my breath. Not good. Not good at all.

My words are ill-timed and poorly chosen. They show no understanding of the ways of the world. I should be locked away somewhere so my too loud laughter won’t infringe on the well-being of others. It would be best if I were to be brought out only at mealtimes (and could you just drop it at the cage door and back away slowly, no eye contact or conversation please?)

I am moderately useful at times of low grade fevers, existential crises, and the middle of the night. Perhaps it would be best for us all if I could be launched, set sail on an ice floe for the next, say, 4-8 years.

I want to argue that I am not who you think I am. I am likable. Kind. Strong. I was a really good friend this week. Brave, even. Sometimes I make people laugh. I am becoming an expert at sitting next to someone, holding a hand, saying nothing. When I do speak, there are life experiences I could share. And I remember what it was like to be young. The world may have changed, but I remember the thoughts, the feelings, the needs.

I want to say, let’s not play this game. It’s such a cliché. Could we just jump ahead to the part where you see the good in me and the filter of time will show that these, while never destined to be the good old days, were the days when I helped make you feel stable, and safe? When I dragged my paltry self out of bed each day and kept showing up? 

I know you have affection to give, climbing on your father’s lap, a mash-up of estrogen and testosterone fitting together tightly-- so different than the magnetic poles of like and like that invite the two of us close, close, closer then push us apart. You say, “You are getting even better looking, Dad! Those gray hairs look so cute on you!”

I peek at you when you sleep. You don’t have my eyes, or my nose, but you do have my spunk and spark. And the quick responses come from me, too. You and I have the power to be witty and charming, but our quick minds can be dangerous when we choose the cutting retort. And beware if we are tired or hungry. I can tell these are my legacy to you, but you would rather have picked them up from a used urinal cake in a bus station bathroom than from my DNA. Because you are your own person. You are not me. This life is yours and you need to live it for yourself. ‘Tis true.

So my inward pep-talk about my own worth stays inside. Spoken aloud it smacks of desperation, and I’ve seen enough of life to assure myself that while challenging, our situation is far from a desperate one. So I keep it to myself, repeating occasionally:  I am Okay. I am Kind.
I am...

I am...

I am...

…the mother of a teenage girl.

I am strong and worthy. So are you, my beautiful, amazing daughter. I love you, I’m not going anywhere, and I know we can ride this thing out.

66 comments:

stacy said...

Oh my word. There are no words.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I have a 16 year ol daughter....enough said!

Laura Perry said...

Oh, God. Right there with you, friend.

normaleverydaylife said...

You have my sympathies. I have an 18 year old daughter who is just starting to come out of this stage. It's hard to be at odds during these years. I also have 10 year old girls that will soon be sending me on this ride all over again. Hang in there because it will get better!! :)

Peg said...

This is one of your best posts. Having just done it with one, I am knee deep in mothering/aunting another. Lovely lovely post.

Harriet said...

Anna, this post chimes so strongly with my experience - please know you are not alone! Hold onto all the good things you know about yourself and about your daughter, all will be well. Sending you love and best wishes from afar - I know this is the hardest time of year for you xxx

MaryG said...

Oh, this speaks to me so much. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written! Makes me think of how (badly) I treated my mom during my teenage years. It's coming to me - my two daughters are growing fast. Mothers and daughters are complicated.

Lorie said...

That was beautifully written… Except for the used urinal cake part. 😂😂

I am a few years behind you with my almost teenage daughter and hope they invent a cure for teenage angst by then. Fingers crossed!

Leeann said...

What an awesome post! Well done!

shenne hahn said...

I understand why the separating must happen, but why must it be so mean? I'm treasuring up my little girl's "I love you"s and "You're the best mom"s, knowing that my day too will come when I have to weather the storm of her contempt.

One crazed mommy said...

Oh man...my daughter is 10, almost 11...and I can already relate. I keep thinking it can't get worse as she becomes a true teen, can it??? I hope not, because I've already been told many of the things in your post, and others as well (however hurtful, I keep thinking it's just a phase...) My daughter is amazing, but that mean little tween demon pokes her head out regularly.

gomom247 said...

Can I join you on that ice floe? It'll be fun. I'll bring wine. (not whine) Teenage daughters are wonderful and scary.

Finished Rare Bird today. LOVED it.

m

Suburban Correspondent said...

Oh, honey, so many of us empathize with you. I distinctly remember my oldest girl, everyone time I spoke to her, wearing the confused embarrassed expression most people wear when accosted by a psychotic homeless person at a Metro station. Really makes a mom feel like a million bucks!

Amanda K said...

I don't have daughters, but my mother and I went through a tough spell, too. It came to head when we went on vacation to NYC, and I was so unkind. At 32, I look back on that episode with embarrassment, but I also count my mother as one of my closest friends. There is hope!

A Speckled Trout said...

My oldest daughter recently said to me, "I'm sorry. I think I was awful to you for years."

I could have wept.

This too shall pass. So painfully slow...but it does pass and you both come out stronger on the other side.

Sara said...

I am standing and I am clapping. I was there with my mom, and I wish so much that it hadn't been so bad. I said some things to my Mom that will haunt me my entire life. And even though we have forgiven each other for each of our sides, those words can't ever be undone. I hope you both come out the other end. And lord knows, I will be there soon enough. My BABY turned 8 yesterday and I'm trying to soak up all the love I can.

Julie said...

My daughter is 15, & I've been on this ride for a couple yrs already. I don't know how we're going to make it thru high school! It helps so much to know it's a typical rite of passage (was I this horrible to my mother???) & this too shall pass. Deep breaths... & wine!

Kendra HeadlessMom said...

This could describe me and my 14 yo son. Oh my.

Beautifully written my friend.

Jill said...

I am the mother of a 20 year old girl/woman. It gets better. It becomes WONDERFUL.

Kari B Crain said...

This is so cute! Hang in there!

Diane said...

Been there, done that as well. Now she is a mother herself and appreciates me more and more every day. We are very close friends as are my sons and I - but oh!- those teenage years. Still, I don't think any of them were as bad as I was - and I miss my Mom every day.

Amanda said...

At first I thought you were describing me. My daughter is almost 12 and Dad is perfect and Mom leaves a lot to be desired. Thanks for such a moving post. I don't remember being mean to my Mother but she might tell a different story! As I once said to my husband when he met my teenaged nieces and nephews " they're all good kids but you might not get a glimpse of it until they hit 18"!!

Renee said...

Can I just click "like" and be done?

Leigh Ann said...

I love this. And I'm terrified. When I found out I was having girls, my first thought was "They are going to hate me."

She will love you for this later in life.

Deb Werrlein said...

To second Jill, I believe it does become wonderful. At least that's what I tell myself. My daughter will turn 14 in the next week, so we are on this ride with you. But I've also seen my sister come through this. Years ago she said to me: "my daughter hates me. and worse, I don't know how much I like her either." Now, that daughter is pregnant herself (her own little bundle of "I told you so" on the way!) and they are best friends. Hang in there because we will get there too!

Anonymous said...

Perfect.

Alison said...

You are a wonderful mother, whether she can see it right now or not. She knows, in her heart, she KNOWS. xo

heather blair said...

goosebump truth! beauty!

tracy said...

Oh I am so glad you finally put this here. SO amazing. xo

Vicky92569 said...

Oh yes. I've lived this specific, particular pain of being mom to a teenage girl.
Mine is now in her first year of college.and trust me - it gets way better. (But worse before better - sorry!)
Hang in there, Anna.

Steph said...

Oh, wow, I feel your pain as the mother of two daughters (17 and 11 years old). Just as the older one is becoming somewhat civilized I sense my sweet baby headed for the teen side. Wish i could afford boarding school. Just kidding. sort of.

Anonymous said...

Anna you are amazing... your words are a gift to mothers everywhere. My daughter is 11 and simultaneously loves and hates me. I know it will get better though-eventually. Thanks for a great post.

Susan Thomas said...

Your there...I was hoping it might not be the case for you too. Haven't you earned a pass or at least half a pass? Brace yourself for the next several years and keep reminding yourself there is sonething wonderful even better than you can probably image today ahead. With my girls...one 27, one 15...I've almost all but forgotten the tough days with my older one, but I'm in the thick of it with the other.

Anonymous said...

It does become wonderful...but the moments that it takes to get there try you in a way that you can't describe.

Because girls, well, girls remind us of how we were like then and the guilt over recognizing the actions is tough. Raising a teenage girl made me what to apologize to my mom.

But the beautiful moments start to peak through and eventually you see more of them.

I hope. :)

MBee

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I have read this three times. I am happy to know that I am not alone! Sending you love and empathy from the mother of a beautiful 15 year old firecracker!

Rach said...

I am absolutely terrified to know this is my future--with not one but TWO. :oS

Hang in there.

Clare said...

I was the bratty teenage girl that felt all the same ways about my mom as it appears Margaret is feeling about you. Now, over 10 years later, I look back and think - how could I have been so horrible? But the great thing is, my mom is still there and it's better than ever. Hold on tight, it will be a wild ride but I promise most of us teenage girls turn into loving daughters and friends in time.

Marci said...

This post is lovely, and spot on. You have such a way with words. I am looking forward to reading your book.

Anonymous said...

When fellow mothers of toddlers spoke of their daughters writing on walls or defiantly stomping feet, I marveled at my parenting skills, which obviously were the reason I didn’t deal with such behavior. When other mothers expressed concern about their preteen daughter being private and secretive, I inwardly gloated about how open and sharing my girl was. Now that she is 16, I realize I’m not all that. I am a member of the club – the Mother of a Teenage Daughter Club – and though I love her dearly and wouldn’t trade her, I look forward to joining the Survived a Teenage Daughter club one day. Sigh.

AndreaW831 said...

There are no words at how perfect this post is in my life. Printing now. Had a rough night with my almost 16 year old boy. I ask too many questions, can be his worst enemy, am untrusting, too many questions, drive him crazy....So hard. SO hard to back off and not worry about his future, will he make the right decisions? Will he surround himself with friends who have his best interest at heart? While he's never disrespectful or hateful, it's so hard to be kept at arm's length when all you want to do is hold them close.

Kristin said...

You have a gift with words, my dear friend. Someday, she will realize, just like the rest of us did, that mom is amazing. xo

Sharon M said...

I have a 14 year old daughter and I never dreamed that it would be so difficult. Everyone tells me it's just a temporary phase, but I miss the girl who didn't look at me like I was a total idiot sent here to just to embarrass her. I just keep telling her that I love her and that I am here for her if she needs me. It's hard though, really, really hard. xoxo

anymommy said...

Beautiful, Anna. Written with such truth and grace. I dread this. Also (while this may be inappropriate here) NYT BEST SELLER LIST. OMFG!!!!!!!

EatPlayLove said...

Beautiful, Anna.

Ann Imig said...

This is truly brilliant, and I'm bookmarking it for the future.

Mrs. E said...

You are in the years I call the "Dark Driving Twilight" years. I only initiated talk while driving or in the dark--lights off at bedtime, but especially after dark walks at the track. We needed the exercise. They talked. I listened. They couldn't see my shocked (horrified) expression at the things they told me (looking at the road or in darkness)--and because I didn't speak, they kept talking. I realized they were venting or divulging things that happened to/with friends because they wanted me to know--and maybe even wanted to know how to handle it. Once in awhile we'd get to that place. But mainly, I listened. In the dark or with my eyes focused on the road. (It is a trick that will work for years.) Bless you. Preteen and teen daughters make you want to drink. :)

Me said...

So spot on! I have a 19 year old and you nailed how I feel. Hoping it will soon pass for both of us.

veronica said...

It's lovely to see such honesty. I see on Facebook continual praise how wonderful and perfect and caring everyone's children are. Top at sport, the best at school. Am I the only one with two teenage girls possessed by the devil? It's such a relief to read some of these comments.

Fiona LilyfieldLife said...

Oh Anna, I see glimpses of this in my 11 year old daughter already. You are such a good writer! I'm going to keep this in my files so I can read when she's older and hating me.

Sandra said...

Oh. Oh my. So painfully true, I had to read it twice.

Heidi Cave said...

This made me cry. I needed this. Wow, Anna.

Michelle said...

Oh, honey...I feel your pain. I have a 19-year-old daughter and still battle the same attitudes. Friends of mine who have survived this stage promise me that this too shall pass. I hope they're right.

I read your book this weekend. I just couldn't put it down. I've followed your story for ages, drawn to you by Glennon shortly after that awful day, and feel like you're family. Though we'll likely never meet in person, just know that you and your whole family continue to be in my prayers.

Lady Jennie said...

And then there is the side of you that everyone else sees which is filled with infinitely more light and beauty (and minty fresh breath). The side of you that a teenage daughter will one day see.

And you will continue to love her fiercely until then as only a mom can do.

xo

Anonymous said...

I remember growing up hearing about these awful teenaged years, and thinking it sounded rather silly. And then, on the very day of my 13th birthday, my mother and I had a fight, leaving me wondering "What IS this that is taking me over?" It's interesting that Mrs. E mentioned car rides, because I was going to say the same thing. Somewhere in the latter half of my teen craziness, I remember looking forward to the drives to my orthodontist appointments in the next city with my mother, because we would just spend time talking. And a dark car? Even better!

Lisa C said...

Oh my...my oldest is 21 and we are finally finding "us" again.

I wish I could say I learned what not to do as I look ahead twice more (8 and 6 yr old) at this roller coaster ride I'm so very frightened of.

Arnebya Herndon said...

More than OK. More than kind. You are mom; you always will be. And eventually, she will treasure you again. She will. Hold on.

Anonymous said...

if you don't go through these years with your teenage daughters, be very worried. I didn't with my oldest and thought I had escaped those years only to have them raise their ugly, ugly heads during college--thousands of miles away and now with a boyfriend who managed to turn her from us, too. So get those words out there, knock down drag out fights, and heal before they leave, for they may never come home again--and that hurts even more than the flaming arrows thrown by teenage girls.

Anonymous said...

She feels safe and secure enough in your love to explore her boundaries. She's the fledging perched at the edge of the nest and squawking about wanting to take flight. She's too scared to be out there on her own yet. She's making enough of a ruckus that you'll want to push her out of the nest eventually!

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

I will never forget the day my teen daughter said I don't hate you but I strongly dislike you! Knife thru my heart! But friend here's a little hope for the future... tonight my 20 yr old daughter and I cooked dinner together and then she asked if I would like to go on a bike ride together, melted away all those teen years! Made them all worth while! Hang on it will be here sooner than you realize!

LisaAR said...

Lovely...beautiful...just like you.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Well done!

Christina @ The Murrayed Life said...

My daughter is 7 months old right now and I look at her thinking HOW! How can we ever get like that!! And then I realize that that's exactly how my mom must have felt with me. It's the way of life. At least you can often end up even closer!

Anonymous said...

My 15 year old daughter and I can get on really well and then be at each other's throats. I, of course, being the adult and parent have to remind myself that she is a teenage girl who sometimes says things without thinking. Yes dad's her favourite at the moment too!

Beautiful words Anna...

Jac said...

I'm a (blogging) mother of four little girls, and I'm usually not so much the pinterest type. But I'm going to pin this article, and save it for 8 or 9 years when I REALLY need it.

Yes, this made me cry.

jsweeNC said...

Thank you from a mom of two 15 year-olds (one of each) who more often behave like toddlers and a 5-year-old who knows how to push their buttons.