Right now I’m counting the days until Girl from the West turns 18. I’m encouraging her to apply to colleges on the West coast.
I feel terrible inside for thinking these things, for what is happening to our relationship.
We had a row this past weekend. I suppose we both were to blame. But I am the adult. I should have prevented it from getting to that point.
It may have come down to something as simple as biting my tongue.
“We used to be so close,” Girl from the West said to me through a waterfall of tears. She’s perched on her desk chair, her long wavy hair shielding her face as she picks at a hangnail.
I’m sitting on the rug in her bedroom, my stomach in knots, attempting to reconcile the situation. There is no easy fix. We’ve moved away from the ice-cream-with-sprinkles-fixes-everything territory.
“Right now I need to be your mother, not your friend,” I tell her, working to keep my voice even and calm. “It’s my job to question what you are doing and to be concerned about your behavior. I do this out of love.”
While this sounds nice, what really happened was I launched into her about a number of things. It’s not so important what those things were. It’s more about how I decided to express myself about them.
“Mom, you are so immature!” she barked at me just minutes earlier. “You should hear the way you talk.” She then unleashed a fierce attack, ticking off incidents in the recent past of my brusque behavior behind the wheel, in line at the store, etc.
If I’m honest with myself, she’s right. I lose it a lot. I acted like Joan Crawford waving the wire hanger at her cringing child.
Let’s face it, there have been a number of high-stress things going on in the MomZombie household. While I’ve discovered some new ways of healing and dealing with all of it, I’m a newbie and have lapses.
I’m trying to to be mindful of my acts: I am angry. But how am I using my anger? Apparently like a weapon rather than as a way to deconstruct my thinking and reactions to outside forces.
The least I could do for Girl from the West is to apologize and admit my behavior was less-than-stellar. I should know that action, not anger, is the way to reach through all the teen angst.
I wanted things to be different; I didn’t want to end up where my mother and I landed in the ’80s, with me running out the door in tears, my angry mother waving the latest contraband she found during one of her regular sweeps of my bedroom while I was in school.
If my mother had had her way, I’d have spent my teen years locked in my room reading scripture and knitting. If I’d had my way, I would have been an emancipated minor, like two of my good friends were in high school.
Obviously looking back on that, it was tragic. Teen girls living alone in apartments, away from a family unit. Some of us — I know I did — thought it was the most awesomest ever. But what did we know? How could we know?
My mother and I had such a volatile relationship. We fought brutally. We had no common ground. How could I possibly forge a strong bond with my daughter when I had this model?
It wasn’t until years after I left home and had my own child that we could begin to form anything that resembled a relationship. We are still working on it.
I’m still working on it.