Back in the late eighties, early nineties I was an asshole to my mom. Not all the time. Not every day. But far too often…
I’d be all smiling and laughing one minute and a killjoy of epic proportions the next. As moms do, mine loved me through all the ups and downs of those tween and teen years. She even managed to refrain from strangling me or shipping me off to boot camp (where I’d never have survived). In fact, she handled my moods with an impressive level of patience and willpower.
Once the hormonal haze lifted, my empathy kicked in, and I recognized the damage caused by my angsty ways. So, I wrote my mom a long letter of apology filled with all the accolades she so deserved. Not that a letter undid years of wrinkle-inducing attitude, but it helped steer us into a more positive space.
Today, we are as close as a mom and daughter can be.
Yup, moody and unpredictable teenagers usually grow up, parents forgive them, and life carries on. But the teen/parent relationship can be a very trying one, indeed.
Ours, my mom’s and mine, is the success story (the tale of survival) that I cling to, as I parent my own daughters.
Now, it’s my turn to lead our family’s ship through the choppy waters of adolescence. It’s up to me to be the adult, the bigger person, the role model, the calm one… Ugh, I only wish I had the inner strength to be all of those things!
Preserving our family relationships is a top priority for me. But, I am not always on the ball when the heat starts to rise.
Sometimes, instead of modelling a consistent amount of patience and understanding, I lose my shit.
I get caught unprepared (like mid-pee or before coffee) and all attempts at grace go out the window. So, in some ways I guess I am consistent. I’m consistently inconsistent with my reactions to questionable attitudes (a.k.a. I take the bait) and I end up taking part in petty bickering, letting my feelings get hurt, or contributing to feisty arguments that are going nowhere.
My own mom had so much of those calm and cool qualities back in the day. She still does! She really knew when to let things slide. Sometimes, I can see my mom in myself. I’m pretty darn calm and level, 93.6% of the time…
My mom laughs when I compliment her on the patience she always seemed to have with me. She tells me I must have a selective memory.
I’m guessing she’s probably right. And my fingers are now crossed that my kids have that too.
Having been a moody, and sometimes hurtful, teen gives me a bit of an inside scoop. I know a teen’s words, though sometimes cutting, are spoken without genuine ill-will. They don’t mean half the crap they say! They are just looking to push your buttons and even this, though tricky to explain, just shows a great level of comfort and security in their relationship with you. Their emotions are ready to erupt at any time and those emotions can surprise and confuse even the exploding teen. Try not to hold them 100% accountable for every aspect of every outburst, as they too are trying to understand their own inner workings. Hormones wreak havoc on us all so try to give them a bit of space and understanding. This stage will pass and we will all be okay.
I am now soaking in my own “formerly moody teen” advice so I can remain calm the next time one of their moods ruffles my feathers.
Venting to my fellow teenage raising moms is helpful, whether via text or in person. Also useful, is a simple “knowing glance” between my husband and I during an anger-inducing teen/parent encounter. These are a few little lifelines that work for me. They keep me from fleeing the home in search of a peaceful life. (Bora Bora anyone?)
It can be truly challenging to raise tweens and teenagers but the tough times won’t last forever. Someday the hard work will be over and we’ll get to focus on the fun stuff, like grandma does.
This post originally appeared on Momstown.