Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Biting My Tongue

Throughout many years of mothering, I've learned a lot of lessons. I've learned that drawings displayed on the refrigerator should only be thrown away after a child is in bed and not when I'm having a meltdown regarding the fact that NOBODY PICKS UP AFTER THEMSELVES ANYMORE. I've learned that my idea of a clean bedroom and a child's idea of a clean bedroom are very, very different. I've learned that the meal that I've spent all day making is never as impressive as the delivered pizza.

It seems that the hardest lesson for me to learn is something I fondly refer to as "Back Off/Shut Up." In other words, do nothing at all. It sounds easy, doesn't it, but it goes against every natural maternal instinct with which we're born.

As the mother of a 13-year old girl, I'm finding "BOSU" to be invaluable. When we shop for clothes, I know that my opinion instantly makes an outfit either hideous or awesome, but not in the way that I'd like. If I want her to wear it, I cannot, under any circumstances, tell her that it's cute.

When homework is being done, ten minutes before school starts, it is critical that I not remind her that she could have done this assignment last night instead of sitting at the computer instant messaging friends.

What is essential is that I know that A) My jokes are dumb, B) I have never had as much homework as she has ever had, and C) I couldn't possibly understand what she's going through at any time...ever.

It sounds cruel and demeaning, but really, I do know that it's just the current phase under construction in her 13-year life. Along with everything else going on in her world, her home life is where she gets to go every day to totally lose it....sometimes at my expense. Oh, sure, I have my own breaking points and occasionally have to LOUDLY remind her of my place in the family tree and the respect I am due. But I also think back to the days when I'd pick her up from day care and she'd fall apart in my arms. The teachers would look at me, puzzled, and reassure me that she had a great day and was happy as a clam. Apparently, my little clam finds me an oasis where she needs to spit a few pearls once in a while.

The curious thing is that it's taking me nearly 20 years to figure out that like everything else in life, motherhood is a journey, not a destination. I'm always learning and yet, most of the time, it feels like I've mastered nothing. What works yesterday is oh so wrong today. By trial and error, I find what's effective until life moves on and it's totally not working anymore.

Right now, it's all about saying nothing at all. Ouch, my tongue hurts.

40 Comments:

At 8:37 AM , Anonymous Anne Glamore said...

This is good advice for me... my oldest son is entering this phase and I am at my wit's end trying to figure out what to say and what not to say. Stress!

 
At 10:24 AM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

I do think the kids are getting more homework. My daughter is only in Kindergarten and I can't believe the stuff they are expecting these kids to know. When I was in kindergarten we painted and played with dolls in our politically incorrect kitchen set-up.

 
At 10:33 AM , Blogger Ally said...

Hello, visiting very chilly Wisconsin from slightly damp Liverpool! Good advice, I find saying nothing one of the hardest things in the world.

 
At 11:08 AM , Blogger Mo said...

"I've learned that the meal that I've spent all day making is never as impressive as the delivered pizza."

This might be true now, but trust me - my mom made almost every meal from scratch, and although I thought she was horrible for never ordering in, heating up frozen tv dinners, or buying twinkies, as an adult, I respect her so much much more for it.

 
At 11:33 AM , Anonymous colleen said...

Well said! A mother has to draw on so many talents and is stretched in love and sometimes frustration!

Thanks for your recent kind words at my site.

 
At 5:28 PM , Blogger Zephra said...

I am going to let my 11 year old son read this. Maybe he will get where I am coming from. Seems we have the same battles. I miss the sweet boy he used to be. It seems he has been replaced by a moody, pimply, young man.

 
At 9:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! I can relate.

 
At 11:23 PM , Blogger kenju said...

You've made a great discovery; the journey is the whole point. And saying nothing is hard - but cometimes necessary!

 
At 6:10 AM , Blogger kenju said...

Hey, Karen, Michele sent meback this morning!

 
At 10:21 PM , Anonymous Janet said...

I have a friend going thru the same thing...her daughter is 16 LOL! Hi, Michele sent me :-)

 
At 5:40 AM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi there...I could never do what you are doing...Mother's have it very very hard with the terrible teens!! I wouldn't have lived through it nor would the teenager!

I'm here from Michele this morning and glad to be here!

 
At 6:54 AM , Blogger angela marie said...

I wasn't 'below' you at Michele's, but saw 'Milwaukee Karen' and HAD to check it out as I live only 30 minutes away. I'll be back!!

(I love the PS2 story, too!)

 
At 8:11 AM , Blogger Sandy said...

Wise mom you are. Something I'm filling away for future reference. Thanks.

Michele sent me

 
At 11:00 AM , Blogger Courtney said...

She'll grow out of it. Good luck until then--I'm consistently amazed that I survived to see 14, myself.
Thanks for coming by earlier.

 
At 1:43 PM , Anonymous pia said...

One day your daughter won't be 13 anymore, and she really will value your opinion and want to go shopping with you--and actually ask if you like something or not; and if you don't...she just might not buy it.

 
At 7:44 PM , Blogger Tammy said...

Really great post! My daughters are 10 and almost 12, and I just keep learning more every day. :)

Thanks for visiting me via Michele tonight...I love that I always find great new places to visit thanks to her!

 
At 7:46 PM , Blogger Minerva said...

I LOVED this post and really identified with it as a mother of three girls, one on the edge of teenagerhood...

Marvellous!

Here from Michele's today...

Minerva

 
At 7:56 PM , Blogger Michele said...

Stopping by to say hello....

I also LOVE this post, although not because I can use the advice - I am after all a perfect parent, of course, the fact that I have no children is what makes me perfect at it.

I simply love this ost because it is so very wise and wonderfully written.

 
At 9:38 AM , Blogger Yseye said...

This entry was great! BOSU, I have to remember that (every other second).

 
At 11:41 AM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hi Lisa...
I'm here again this A.M. through the wonderful Michele...I read your post again and thought, this must have been what my mother felt, too! Oh Dear!

 
At 2:56 PM , Blogger Juggling Mother said...

That's what makes you a good mother - knowing sometimes you have to let them do it themselves.

i wouldn't be 13 again for anything in the world. I remember that NOBODY could understnad what I was going through. But what makes us good parents is that we DO understand, & can remember, and so can step back occasionally. However much we want to intervene:-)

She'll grow out of it eventually - say another 7 or 8 years:-)

Here from Micheles today

 
At 4:15 PM , Anonymous Last Girl On earth said...

I don't have kids, but I STILL feel for you. (I was a kid once!) Michele sent me. Hope you have a good weekend.

 
At 4:16 PM , Blogger rob said...

I know that my idea of a clean room and a child's idea of a clean room are two very un-different things.

Me mam always said, "The hardest part of being a parent is letting go." I've never doubted this for a second as an absolute truth. Sounds like you're understanding the truth in this as well.

Well done.

 
At 8:17 PM , Blogger Plain Jane said...

All I can say.. is that in another 20 years, she will understand and thank you for all these things. It's taken me about that many to truly appreciate my mom - and I love her all the more for it. :)

Thank you for visiting my site. :)

 
At 12:59 AM , Blogger David said...

I have one 14 yrs old - she is having adjustment problems - but we will get through this _ YES we will

 
At 6:29 AM , Blogger kenju said...

Here I am again (third time) via Michele, of course. I love what she said about being the perfect parent!

 
At 8:47 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

You have some good ideas. All parents should follow them.

Michele sent me this way.

 
At 6:41 PM , Blogger Sue Richards said...

Do you have any memories of yourself at 13 and what mother stuff drove you nuts? Or did that get wiped out during child birth?

I'm not a mom, but I'm curious.

From M's game.

Sue

 
At 7:23 PM , Blogger MP said...

Hello from a new visitor. Great post. My girls are 4 & 6 now but my days are numbered!

 
At 10:58 PM , Blogger srp said...

Hi, Michele sent me.
I completely identify with this.
My girl did puberty and adolescence with all its angst as I did menopause. Not a pretty sight with just the two of us in the house.
Now, at 19, it's a little better, not much at times but a definite crack in the door. My intelligence is beginning to appear again. The room thing is worse. I just don't have to see the dorm room, in fact I make it a point NOT to go to the room when I visit. I really don't want to know.
The clothes issue hasn't improved but I haven't tried the reverse psychology thing yet...tell her the outfit I dispise is absolutely perfect and see if that alone will change her mind. Actually, I'm surprised I have a tongue left at all.

 
At 5:44 AM , Blogger Star said...

THe teenage years are tough for girls. If you can hang in there it's all worth it. Here via Michele.They are your best friends as adults.

 
At 1:11 PM , Blogger jennypenny said...

Sounds like you have really figured out how to deal with the teenage mind! I just hope that one day when I have children I will be able to back off and shut up but i doubt it. Good for you and keep up the good work.

 
At 6:56 AM , Blogger Ally said...

Hello, visiting via Michele today!

 
At 9:27 PM , Blogger utenzi said...

That sounds like a very tough journey to make, Karen. You're totally right, of course. But I'm quite sure that it's very difficult to keep a hands-off attitude with composure but it's no doubt what your daughter needs at this stage of her development. Good luck!

 
At 5:41 AM , Blogger Aginoth said...

Still a few years to go till our three hit their teens...thankfully

Thanks for popping by my bog earlier, I don't comment very often here but I do read most of your posts :o)

About time I added you to my blogroll I think...done :o)

 
At 6:09 AM , Blogger Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

thanks for dropping in twice! And for the sage advice now I've come to see you. Does this mean I shouldn't yet tattoo "failed mother" across my forehead?
This time Michele sent me...

 
At 8:46 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Argh. I have four daughters...one very near teenagerhood. It's not a prospect that I'm excited about!!

 
At 7:51 AM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

Hi Karen, saw your comment at Kenju's...Michele emailed me back last night and said she realizes her site is down, and is working on it. Seems everyone is having major withdrawals...=)

 
At 8:36 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

Your wisdom speaks volumes. Sounds like you've been making the most out of this long journey - and we're lucky enough to reap the rewards.

 
At 9:48 AM , Anonymous Heels said...

It's excellent advice and I should try it out myself once in a while, and my oldest is only 5.

BOSU.

 

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