Monday, December 15, 2014

A Parental Confession

good enough mom, terrible parent, guilty mom
The other day Elizabeth and I were in the car talking when she got very quiet. We were driving on the highway so it took me a moment or two to notice that she had become introspective. She was looking out the window and dabbing her eyes.

She looked over at me and said Mom, when I am a mom I hope I am a mom just like you.


INTERNAL CHEERLEADER JUMP

Honey, I replied, I'm sure you will be, then, if that is what you want to be. I promise you, though, I haven't always been this great paragon of motherhood before you.  

I went on to describe a few moments from her childhood where I went totally ballistic on her about...I have no idea what.

She replied Well, I don't remember those things, but you have mentioned them before. What I want to be like, Mom, is patient, supportive, permissive, and really and truly loving me as I truly am. Then she went on to tell me about recent times when, in her mind, I was the ultimate in loving.


Well, anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that raising this daughter/being a mother to this child has been a constant learning process for me. I have done everything wrong. I have made mountains out of mole hills. I have made incorrect assumptions. I have been harder on her than I have been on John. I have been snarky. I have been childish. I have torn down things from the walls in my rage. I have been awful at times. None of the really bad stuff has happened in awhile, but I remember it clearly.

As the years have rolled forward I knew that I wanted to be the kind of parent that my daughter needed me to be because it was pretty clear that she was going to be herself, not some version of her that I had in my mind. So most of the change happened on my end.

I have learned so much about loving a child with this strong personality. At times I have cursed that personality. I have been proud of that personality. I have fought it, felt overwhelmed by it, criticized it, battered it, cried about it, been snide toward it. 

Yes, I have fought this child.

But one day I realized that, instead of fighting her and trying to get her to be...something else, I simply walked over to her and hugged her.  Long and hard, letting her know that I loved her so much.  Really, just a hug right in the middle of some awful exchange we were having in the kitchen. And that changed the course of our entire relationship.

I realize that she wants us to get along. She wants me to love her exactly as she is. I realize that she was struggling too, not just being contrary. I became Pro-Elizabeth instead of Pro-Karen.  It made all of the difference in the world.

While I will never forget that time I took her Pretty Princess bed topper down in a fit of anger, (a thing that she doesn't even remember, a thing that I can't forget), I will also never forget that moment when she was proud of me, saw good qualities in my parenting, decided that she wanted to be like me, bragged about me to her friend.

All because I went where she was rather than waiting for her to come to me.


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More Posts Like This One:

It's Going to be Worth It
Can I Rebel Now?
Shooshy:  Raising My Daughter
My Thirteen Tips For Raising Your Strong-Willed Child


2 comments:

  1. Hey! Good to be here again!! I love this post so much. It gives me so so much hope! I want to do this as well! Some days I succeed. Some days I fail, but I'm getting much better! Hugs!

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    Replies
    1. Dear Larissa!
      I know how hard and hopeless and thankless it feels at times. I truly do.
      I have lived the struggle, the SHAME of not really.....liking her.

      I had an epiphany one day. I suddenly realized that she didn't like the conflict any more than I did. SO one day, in the kitchen, she was standing with her arms across her chest, determined to stay standing in that spot. I walked over to her and put my arms around her. Surprised the hell out of her; it surprised me too.

      She started crying and telling me how much that meant to her.

      At those times when we were not fighting (back in the earlier days of things improving for us) we would talk about how hard we both tried. We would tell each other that the relationship mattered to us. We would say what the other person was doing RIGHT...
      It was a long road, but we have made it through to the other side...

      I am certain that you can do it too. <3

      Karen

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