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The Mind Games of Mothering a Teenage Daughter

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There are days when, as a mom, I've had incredible parenting moments. Those good days where my heart swelled with pride and happiness and joy. And, then, there were the other days rife with what could only be called disastrous parenting moments. They were the ones where I was left wondering where I went wrong, what I could have changed, where I may have even equated mothering to the meaning of the universe.

Those are the days when being a mom is just wearying. Tiring to the bone.

Today was such a day. A fatigue-creater. A tears-maker. A definite one for the throw-up-your-hands and throw-in-the-towel annals.

Any mom who has a special needs child will tell you that singular moments of greatness and frustration, joy and anger, why and why-not are so constant that they just blend together into just-life. As a mother of a gifted son with ADHD, I've been torn back and forth and up and down. Fleeing and flying emotions of love and hate blending and melding together until they just form a state of being.

I'm used to feeling like that. Like I did today.

But, surprisingly, today wasn't about him. Well it did start as so, as does every day. But today, his problems-pervasive, never-ending and always-sending-me-spiraling-into-sadness took second seat to his older sister's antics.

She's almost an adult, yet still able to twist that knife deep into my gut with just a few words. She doesn't like me to write about her, so this is about me.

My relationship with my own mother was always tenuous, always strained. There was, and always seems to be, a sense of disconnect. We do not get each other, in any sense of the word. She never really provided the unconditional and constant emotional support that I needed, and I never was, or so I thought, the daughter that she had envisioned. As an adult, I understand that I am in fact exactly what she wants, but that her own fallibilities, her own problems, made her unable to show that to me. But, as a teenager, I didn't know, didn't care.

I swore that would never happen with my own girl, if I was lucky to have one. But, it has. Was it inevitable? It is impossible to escape the cliché of Mother-Daughter relationships? Will we be oil and water forever? Is it her age?

Teenagers are by nature egocentric. We give them a lot of leeway knowing that hormones and immaturity and god knows what else is driving their two-faces of Eve-ness. But when those digs come, those comments that imply that ALL their problems are your fault, that they're hard done by, deprived, or they way they are because of how they were mothered, well, it's had to remember. Hard to rise above.

When you have a baby, you imagine it gets easier as they get older. That by the time they are nearly 19, they won't have the ability to make you doubt yourself. But today I had a day where it was hard to remember the good parenting moments. To remember the work I've done that has resulted in a strong, smart, independent woman.

Instead, my ego was smothered by accusations and perceived failures.

Today was a day that I felt like I wasn't a 'good' mother to this daughter. I was baited even though I wanted to stay reasonable. I got angry even though I wanted to stay rational.

I second-guessed every single one of my parenting philosophies, wondering if maybe she should have had more chores, more responsibilities, more more, less less less. Was I too nice, too mean, too attentive, not attentive enough?

The thoughts that consume a mother. Even after her child is grown.

I'm writing this because I want her to know (even though she'll probably never read this), that I'm a person, not just her mother. I have feelings, and priorities, and failures, and successes and strengths, and weaknesses. I make mistakes. And I do great things too.

I want ME to know these things too. I'm reminding myself that I have good, bad, and sometimes ugly.

I'm human.

Before I was her mother, and long after, I want ME to know I did my best.

Photo credit: Jose Chavarry via photopin cc