Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Being the Bee in the Bonnet

The other day I scolded my sister. She’s much younger than me and her daughter is 3-1/2 years old. As toddlers go, this child is spectacular. She’s got brains and beauty. OK, sure I’m biased, and, I have, in fact, referred to her as my “practice grandchild.” Anyway, my sister and I were chatting on the phone and her daughter wanted her attention – several times. My sister truly has the patience of a saint. She teaches second graders, which tells you a lot about her ability to deal with children. And so my sister said to her daughter: “Please stop now. Can’t you see I’m on the phone?! Go and play!” It really wasn’t a huge deal, but I told her that one day, my niece is going to be 14 and she won’t want to be anywhere near her mother and that in a few short years, my sister will actually miss those interruptions.

I told my sister this because I know. I am living on the other end of the spectrum. As the mother of a 14, almost 15-year old, I am both my daughter’s worst enemy and best friend. Just last night, as she actually sat and watched a movie with my husband and me, she, at one point, said: “Oh my gawd! Do you guys realize how annoying you are?!”

I try to be a lot of things, but annoying isn’t one of them. But, according to my daughter, I’m very gifted in that area. What is it about me that repels her so? From my point of view, I’m like a personal assistant/chef/chauffer/ATM all rolled into one, big cuddly body. I’m there at her beckon call. I wash her clothes, even when they’re not dirty. I actually understand why she doesn’t want to wear the same dress to two dances. I let her have sleepovers. I try not to speak when her friends are in the car.

Last week, my daughter and I spent an entire day together. We had tickets to a college basketball game and a musical in the same day. I said to her: “Are you sure you want to spend that much time with me?” She kind of shrugged as if to say: “Trust me. If anybody else were available, you’d be outta here faster than a seat filler at the Oscars.” And so I geared up to do my best to be less annoying than usual. It didn’t last long. During the game, I sometimes text message a friend of mine that sits on the other side of the arena. This annoyed my daughter because I don’t text as well as she does. Then, I tried to chat with my daughter about the players and the game in general. I apparently said something monumentally stupid. And so I sat there, silently steaming, thinking: “Look kid. I may be incredibly lame, but I’m all you’ve got today, so don’t ruin my day too.”

And then I thought back to my teen years. To say that I was moody would be a gigantic understatement. My moods changed more often than Britney Spears’ hair color. I was up one minute, down most of the others. I’m certain I was downright surly for a majority of my adolescence. How did my mother survive and why does she still speak to me?

That’s when it hit me. What I remember was that my crabbiness was borne out of incredibly low self-esteem. I had a nice childhood, but I had not much confidence and so I hurt the ones I loved….or at least those that would take it.

So as I sat next to my daughter at that game, and later during a nice dinner and then the musical, I held back a little. I used a softer approach and skipped the stupid jokes and just enjoyed being with her. I can’t force her to like me as much as she likes her friends, but I can teach her to like herself. I guess it’s why I’m here.

14 Comments:

At 8:02 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Your daughter's comment about if there was anyone else available was hilarious!

Michele sent me here.

 
At 8:37 AM , Blogger Em said...

Very nicely written! I've got three teens - 13, 16, 19 (the 13 is the girl) - and they each have their moments of looking at me as if I'm from another planet. Sometimes I try a little too hard, I know. But, like you, I'm trying to learn to just enjoy the time.

 
At 8:54 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

Does your sister read your blog? If not, she should, because this is yet another example of your extreme parental wisdom.

Your daughter will read it too, someday, and will smile that she had such an insightful mother.

Great to see you again, Karen. I hope you're having a warm and comfy day with your family.

 
At 9:06 AM , Blogger kenju said...

Oh, Karen, you are SO smart!

I noticed this:"That’s when it hit me. What I remember was that my crabbiness was borne out of incredibly low self-esteem. I had a nice childhood, but I had not much confidence and so I hurt the ones I loved….or at least those that would take it"

That describes me to a tee - at the age of 13-14-15. Luckily, I got better and I am sure she will too.

 
At 10:13 AM , Anonymous Anne Glamore said...

You're gonna make me cry!

 
At 1:34 PM , Anonymous rampant bicycle said...

Ah, that's a hard thing to do. :) *imaginary hugs!* Hang in there...I know my mom and I had our troubles, much like the ones you describe. But I grew up, and now we get along famously. :)

Hello from Michele's!

 
At 2:32 PM , Blogger PI said...

I think you are on the right track. Everything comes to he who waits. Wait till she leaves home and misses her Mom. Michelle sent me.

 
At 4:28 PM , Blogger srp said...

I'm not sure if I should break this to you or not.... being even further along on the scale of life with an almost 21 year old.. but here goes.

It gets even more complicated when they leave home. At first you pine for them then little by little your life actually becomes your own again and you begin to enjoy little quiet moments when you can speak your mind again. Then... they come home. Some of the irritation they once had in your presence is gone and you think... ah... home free. But, these are replaced by new and VERY STRANGE ones. And now they come and go and well... it leaves you completely confused, but ready for them to be on your own.

This time I don't think it has anything to do with any type of low self-esteem, unless it is on my end.

Wisdom has to come with age... doesn't it?

Here from Michele.

 
At 4:29 PM , Blogger srp said...

I'm not sure if I should break this to you or not.... being even further along on the scale of life with an almost 21 year old.. but here goes.

It gets even more complicated when they leave home. At first you pine for them then little by little your life actually becomes your own again and you begin to enjoy little quiet moments when you can speak your mind again. Then... they come home. Some of the irritation they once had in your presence is gone and you think... ah... home free. But, these are replaced by new and VERY STRANGE ones. And now they come and go and well... it leaves you completely confused, but ready for them to be on your own.

This time I don't think it has anything to do with any type of low self-esteem, unless it is on my end.

Wisdom has to come with age... doesn't it?

Here from Michele.

 
At 1:37 AM , Blogger Swishy said...

You're such a good mom! Hang in there ... it'll get better.

 
At 8:47 AM , Blogger Bob-kat said...

Yep, it's why you're there for sure. Give her afew yeasr adn she will truly appreciate how great you'ver been. I know looking back I appreciate all that my parents did for me (though they were lame at times, no question!) :-)

Being a teenager is rough, but so is being the mom of one.

Here from Michele's to rassure you that you seem to be doing great.

 
At 5:09 PM , Blogger utenzi said...

I hear you, Karen. The reason I decided never to have children is that I remember very well what I was like as a teen and there's no way I was ever going to endure that from the other side. I'd kill the kid! Parents get my sympathy and admiration for being willing (and foolish enough, perhaps) to endure that kind of abuse from their kids. I hope the joys of parenthood are worth these years of teen-aggravation, Karen! LOL My Mom tells me that it's worth it--but she just wants more grandkids!

Michele suggested I wander over to witness your pain, Karen. It'll get better!

 
At 5:11 PM , Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

I don't know. I mean that, really - I don't know. They didn't come with an instruction book or a switch - I can't just turn them off when they irritate me. Yes, my kids sometimes irritate me. Lots of people irritate me though, so maybe it's me!!

My youngest is 17 and I guess he has had the opportunity to watch his brothers pass through everything he will. Plus, as a long-haired, Harley riding freelance writer, I am the textbook "cool dad." Except when I say "no," of course!

Nice post -

Via Michele's,

Mike

 
At 5:13 PM , Anonymous Maryanne said...

Oh the way of life when one is living with teenagers.....it's like having Dr. Jeykell and Mr. Hyde for dinner, all the time, everyday...God I love prozac! I admire you patience and your wisdom. I too never knew I could be so annoying, ignorant and beastly...yes that's what my daughter told me the other day. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Something tells me to hang in there though, it's part of that "unconditional" stuff we brought with us from the gene pool. Keep up the good work my friend. Thought I was due for a visit. Happy New Year!
Toodles,
Maryanne

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home