Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Just Can’t Quit You

Dear Children of Mine,
I know that you don’t like me lately. No, seriously, I understand. And, I know this will be hard for you to hear, but sometimes the feeling is mutual. I know that you think that I miss the subtle eye rolls or the deep sighs or the angsty growls when your bedroom door is closed. Actually, I see and hear ALL. I’m not spying, I’m just feeling.

The mild contempt that you throw my way is not as silent or faint as you might intend. I can feel it blow towards me from the passenger seat of the car as we drive to and from school. The silence that you give back when I try to make conversation is, sorry to use a cliche, deafening.

I know that you believe that I have no idea how irritating, mean, patronizing, inflexible, dumb, lame, out-of-touch and clueless I am. Trust me, I do. You’ve told me as much in so, so many ways.

When I ask you how your day/night/movie/party/school was, I know that there’s so much more behind your answer than “good.” I can sense the nuances behind your response but also respect that sometimes one word is all I’m going to get.

See, here’s the thing, as much as you’d like me to back off/go away/stop it/leave you alone, I can’t. Not because this is always such a walk in the park for me. (Yeah, I’d like to say that being ignored and disliked is my idea of a good time.) In fact, I have to admit, that there have been times that I have wanted to walk away. There have been moments when you and I have been in the heat of a domestic battle and I’ve envisioned me, in a lounge, on a beach, with a book, only to have common sense whack me in the side of the head and yell: “Snap out of it!” I have wished that I could surrender to your whims, wishes and pleadings and just make it all stop. But I can’t.

To paraphrase a line from a recent movie: “I can’t quit you.” Sometimes I want to try, but as hard as I do, I can’t. For many reasons: Because I care. Because I was once your age. Because I once hated my parents. Because I’ve learned a thing or two in the past few years. Because I actually do understand why you’re mad. Because I remember how confusing being a teenager is and was. Because I’m still learning to parent as I go along. Because there are people out there who don’t care as much as I do. Because even when you make me so mad that I’d like to scream, I still love you. Because sometimes when you are at your worst, I look at you and see myself and know that in that moment, it’s really, really hard being you. Which is exactly why I will always be there.



At 10:43 AM , Blogger Sandy said...

I'm willing to bet this would be a letter that provoked some serious eye-rolling should you share it with them -- but someday they'll love you for words like this.

My mom was very fond of saying two things during our teen years:

1) I think children should be placed in a barrel when they turn 12 and not let out until they are 18.

2) I love you. I might not like you very much at the moment. I might not like what you do. But I will always love you.

Wise words from you and Mom.

Thanks for stopping by my little blog home earlier.

At 10:46 AM , Blogger Deb R said...

What Sandy said - I know your kids wouldn't get this now, but if you save this letter, someday they'll read it and agree with every word.

Just wanted to stop by your blog and say hello and thank you for stopping by mine.

At 11:33 AM , Blogger Jolie said...

Oh WOW! I could have written this letter this weekend. I had nearly the same "talk" with each of my three teenagers on Sunday. Thank God moms are blessed with the ability to love unconditionally. Very nice post!

Oh, and Michele sent me and I'm glad I posted after you! Adding you to my list of "reads". :)

At 10:58 PM , Blogger kenju said...

I do hope you are letting them read these letters; might do them a world of good!

At 12:09 AM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

two words. Surveillence Cameras. No, seriously. It must be painful. But, it DOES matter that you haven't stopped trying. If you had zero interest and really DID leave them alone, they would be wondering what your problem was. Just keep talking and eventually you will get a sign of life. I think as long as they know that your goal is concern and desire to have intimacy and not nosiness and judgment.

At 7:46 AM , Blogger Shannon said...

I really love your posts.

{begin sarcasm} Just can't wait until mine grow to teenagers. {end sarcasm}

Michele sent me.

At 9:05 AM , Blogger Jolie said...

Wow!! I can't believe I am site of the day! Thanks for visiting again. Now the pressure is on, lol -- it is no longer just me and my mom reading my blog!!

At 12:56 PM , Anonymous Janet ( said...

Reading that makes me so sad for the way I treated my mother when I was a teen.

At 2:24 PM , Blogger Jess Riley said...

This is a lovely letter, Karen. Your children are lucky to have such a caring, thoughtful mother! :)

At 4:13 PM , Blogger Robin said...

I could have seriously written this myself. I see them doing the eye rolling thing and think, Am I wrong? but then the wayback meter turns on and I remember MY adolescence and how MY mom handled it...Was she wrong? Absolutely not, and in fact, she was probably quite a bit too lenient. So, this backs me up for a little while. BUT...when it starts again, I have to do the whole little shuffle all over. I can't wait for another 10 years to pass when I am suddenly not so stupid anymore.

At 7:34 PM , Anonymous Laura said...

And so beautifully written!

At 10:41 PM , Blogger utenzi said...

Raising kids isn't easy, Karen--and not throwing things at them when they're teenagers is even harder.

I think things were a lot easier on parents 4 or 5 generations back. These days kids learn more from their friends and teachers at school. Back when parents taught kids all they needed to know about how to survive there was probably a greater amount of respect between parents and kids. Maybe.

Michele sent me way, way up to Wisconsin to sympathize with you, Karen.

At 11:03 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

As the mother of three teens I can totally relate to this very well written piece !
I get the I dunno thing a LOT from Mr 13 and it is making me nuts.
Michele sent me tonight.

At 6:33 AM , Blogger Robin said...

Good Morning Karen, I'm in from Michele's this morning!

At 8:01 AM , Blogger angela marie said...

Here from Michele's today, but I usually stop by anyway. Because of entries like this. It makes a parent feel less alone, I think. I am 3 or 4 years from this treatment, but my sister-in-law if feeling it right now.

I'm not looking forward to it.

At 10:16 AM , Blogger Jade said...

Hi neighbor. Thanks for stopping by yesterday. You write about this inspiring but thankless job so well. My boys are older, both still home and I can still relate. Does it ever end? I'm thinking not.

At 11:31 AM , Blogger Free to Be said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. Great post!

Hello from Michelle.

At 3:16 PM , Blogger panthergirl said...

Ah, how true. It's so difficult, isn't it?

I have to say that we never went through an "ignoring" stage with my daughter. In fact, she was always quite gregarious and chatty, open about most everything. However, the second she was asked/told/required to do *anything* that was counter to what she wanted to be doing in that moment, all hell would break loose. Screaming, cursing, throwing things...complete insanity.

Then, she and I would go out together and she'd hold my hand. At 15. Go figure.

Anyway... I wanted to "quit her" MANY times and at almost 21 she is still trying my patience... but quit her I never will.

Good luck with yours.

Here via michele today.

At 6:36 AM , Blogger The Gnat's Trumpet said...

Oh how I'm dreading those days, mine are two and a half and one. But I can remember when I treated my parents badly. Wonderful letter. Michele sent me.

At 7:41 AM , Blogger Viamarie said...

That's a very touching letter. I can very well relate to this because I was once like this towards my mom.

Thanks for sharing it. Michele sent me today and I didn't regret it at all.

At 10:05 AM , Anonymous surcie said...

Perfect! Rock on, Mom!

At 1:08 AM , Blogger Malinda777 said...

So true, so true... but they do come back to the fold, and we get much smarter when they are about 20yrs old :)

Here from Michele

At 6:31 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Wonderful post, Karen. I'm sure many mothers will relate to it.

Michele sent me.

At 6:34 AM , Blogger sage said...

I needed that this morning... Save it for your kids to re-read when they have kids...

At 8:44 AM , Blogger utenzi said...

Michele sent me, Karen.

Kids cen certainly try your patience, Karen. Especially during the teen years--though the teen years seem to start around 11 these days. I blame Madison Ave and all those damn ads.

At 9:58 AM , Anonymous Pearl said...

I was the same way with my mom sometimes. I don't know how she stood it. You do what you have to I guess knowing sanity will return.

Michele sent me.

At 10:34 AM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a wonderful post! I truly envy you your ability to continue and not feel like you've been crushed under 4 million tons of rocks! I admire you more than I can say...It is clear to me why I am not a mom nor could I ever have been one. I couldn't take the heat in this kitchen for one minute! All you Mom's are wonderful beyond words..and you particularly Karen for articulating all of this in this post! Bravo!

At 8:08 AM , Blogger Kim said...

lol, wow, you are a much kinder mother than I. I too, have daydreams and visions of beaches and books and nice cool drinks, but only after I've throttled the little buggers first... I'm hoping you just left that part out.

At 12:23 PM , Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

This was amazing. You really made me feel like I'm not alone. I'm sending this on to my husband now.

Congrats on your Perfect Post Award! :)

At 2:46 PM , Blogger J's Mommy said...

Wow this was a Perfect Post. I loved it!! Well done.

At 3:45 PM , Blogger MommaK said...

Wow. Are you my mother? I was such a bitch as a teenager....oh my, yes.

Wonderful post! Congrats on the award:)

At 7:53 PM , Anonymous Chrissie said...

I have tears in my eyes - I feel exactally just like this! I agree that this post deserves a reward!

At 10:47 PM , Anonymous Kathy said...

Chrissie (the comment above mine) is my daughter. There were days I wanted to quit her and my other 3 daughters as well. I never could. I've loved them all through thick and thin.
What an EXCELLENT post!!!

At 3:52 PM , Blogger ccap said...

Because sometimes when you are at your worst, I look at you and see myself and know that in that moment, it’s really, really hard being you. Which is exactly why I will always be there.

Wow. Thanks for that. Congrats on the PP award.


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