This is my first new blog post in over a year. Working full-time and the roller coaster of other issues have kept me from it. But I was inspired to start writing again by a friend (thanks Isabel!) who reminded me that I have a bit of a knack for it. For me, writing is therapeutic, but if I can also possibly reach someone else who might be struggling with these same issues, then it’s a win-win.
And since some of you may not read until the very end of the post, here’s the most important takeaway from it: It’s okay to occasionally say parenting sucks! Because sometimes, it does. It doesn’t make you a bad person or parent to admit that sometimes you feel weak and defeated and destroyed and just plain sad. If you never felt those things as a parent, you’re not human and I need to know what model of cyborg you are so I can look into upgrading. And know that no matter how great a parent you are, no matter how many things you do right, no matter how often you think “That would never happen to MY kid,” trust me, it can.
There has been so much going on that I have not talked about publicly, for many reasons. First and foremost, because of the personal and sensitive nature of the situation. So, most things in this post may be vague, but just know that it is to protect the privacy of people involved. I like to be transparent whenever possible, but that only goes so far as it protects the people I love. Secondly, there is a lot of guilt and shame associated with some of it. It’s no secret that guilt and parenting go hand in hand. They should have motivational posters all over the maternity ward that read “Prepare to Feel Guilty About Everything For the Rest of Your Life.” And then they should hand you a lifetime subscription to a Wine of the Month club! Take note of that fellas, because I may have just cornered the market on push presents.
To say our family has been struggling the past year is an understatement. Every family has their problems, and anyone who has had a teenager knows that the seas are rough and wild. But, without going into any specifics, let me just say that our struggles, and more specifically the struggles of my daughter go beyond your typical teenage angst.
Another motivational poster hospitals should consider: “Parenting – It’s not for the faint of heart!”
Let me tell you, parenting was a whole lot easier in my imagination with my hypothetical kids! The hardest thing about parenting that no one prepares you for, though, is that you lose your kids. You fall in love with this child, and you get used to this version of them that loves you and depends on you. And then they grow, and change. And even though that can be wonderful, it hurts to know you’ve lost the other version of that person. That little person is gone and you’ll never have that again. And once you get used to the next version and learn how to navigate those waters, they move on to the next phase and become someone else. The same kid who used to beg me to watch her sit on the toilet now won’t even give me a second look.
It’s especially painful when that child grows into someone you don’t even recognize. Someone who truly believes they hate you. Someone who, despite how you’ve raised them, can spew unbelievable hatred your way. Someone who blames you for every bad thing that has ever happened in their life, whether it’s your fault or not. When you have done everything in the world and then some for a person, and they have no love or appreciation for you, it’s an awful feeling. But because you love them, you take it. You try to tell yourself that they are going through something you can’t understand. You take it and take it and choke back the sobs and wipe away your tears and push the hurt way deep down inside, because it’s your child. But, in my opinion, the strength it takes to love someone who hates you is the strength only a parent has. Your child is the only person you would ever possibly accept that from and still love them anyway. I could make a killing selling a wine called “13-Year-Old Hateful Merlot.” I could market it as the epidural for being a mom of a teen!
Possibly the most helpful poster they could have: “Teenagers – Man, can they be little a-holes!
The hardest part of all though, is the feeling of helplessness. Of knowing your child is going through something, and doing your best to help them, but knowing you can’t. Or knowing someone else is shaping your child’s opinions and behavior for the worse, and you can’t stop it. All you can do is sit back and watch the destruction. All I ever wanted in life was to be a good mom. I was never really a career-oriented person. I always wanted to be in a much less-sexist version of Leave it to Beaver. To have a baby and give them an amazing childhood. A life full of as much happiness as possible. Enough wonderful memories to blow away any bad ones. To be the mom that’s the greatest mom and the best friend. The mom that makes the best cookies, hosts the best sleepovers, and has one of the sweetest and happiest kids you would ever meet. As it turns out, all of that is pretty much unattainable. I’ll never be quite that good. (Okay, I will give myself the cookies thing, because my cookies are the bomb.com! Ask anyone.)
But still, I am always there for her. And whenever she has struggled, I have tried to be for her what I needed at that age. I’ve tried showing her love and compassion every possible way I know how. But sometimes it just isn’t enough. That is the most awful part of what we are going through. No matter what I do, it will never be enough. It’s discouraging and painful to say the least. But…gotta keep on keepin’ on!
Because truly, there is nothing else you can do except keep on going. In the words of my favorite fish ever, “Just keep swimming.” In spite of everything, I love my child more than life itself. I would do anything and everything in this world for her. And I will never, ever give up on her. Yes, our lives are an emotional wreck right now. Yes, every time I think we’ve hit rock bottom, we continue to hit new lows. Yes, I cry almost every day. Yes, I worry almost every waking moment about my child. This parenting thing is like the most intense roller coaster you’ve ever ridden, only you can never get off. But, I wouldn’t….even if sometimes I wish I could.
And when all else fails…I will choose to remember this: