I’m getting the silent treatment again. I am referring to my fifteen year old daughter. Need I say more?
No matter how much time I spent attending to her needs as a baby, time I took off of work to attend her events at school, science projects I guided her through, soccer games I drove her to, talks we’ve had, I don’t get to bypass the alien stage.
There are moments when she’s my sweet girl most familiar to me, and moments where out of nowhere she’s giving me the cold shoulder. I once heard an educator refer to these teen years analogous to having ones child abducted by aliens. Truthfully, when he said that, I thought he was out of his gourd.
I thought, Hmm, maybe he doesn’t have my kid, or maybe he just isn’t as fortunate to have the close relationship my daughter and I have.
This judgment that I passed was of course based on my daughter not yet having entered this teen phase. Ah, ignorance is bliss. Now, I’m convinced they planted a chip in her, designed to test my faculties, my patience, and my sense of humor.
The thing about motherhood is not only the obvious missing manual, but also that as my child grows, so do I. This is the stress and the joy of it. Of course being a single mom adds to the stress of it.
During these moments where her hormones are playing ping-pong, I try to remember that this is only a moment in time, and moments are fleeting. Nothing highlights this more than recently while cleaning out a doll basket, I found her bathing suit from when she was 3 years old. I lifted it up by my fingertips, trying to imagine the moment when she fit into it. It seemed like yesterday.
Wasn’t it yesterday when she kissed my cheek leaving behind the sticky trace of peanut butter? Wasn’t it just last week when she was four years old, and she asked me to lift her up so she could look into her day care cubby? She reached in with her rubber band wrists, pulling out something very special she picked up for me while on the playground.
|Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia.|
All Rights Reserved.
A few weeks earlier when she had a tough time at daycare with separation in the mornings as I dropped her off, I gave her a locket with a picture of me on one side and her dad on the other. The intent was for her to look at it when she missed us. She smiled and loved looking into it often. She wore it every day until she was ready to shed it.
Now fifteen, one day soon, I know she will be ready to shed another layer of her childhood, another stage, and she will one day become a grown woman. When I look back to this moment, I wont remember me asking, “What’s wrong?” and her pat answer, “Nothing.” Instead, I’ll recall the greatest ride of my life: Motherhood.
She is God’s blessing for my life, so that I can know what it is to love another, unconditionally. No matter what the moment she’s in, sweet or alien, I have come to know that the good and the bad are here to make us better parents— better human beings. To guide a child through their anger, through their fears, through their selfishness, forces us to see a reflection of ourselves. Forces us to learn ways to still reach them through their difficult moments (and as a consequence, our difficult moments).
Like the shelled pecan, kids can go into their shells and need to know we are still there for them despite this act of alienation. It’s never personal. It’s about what’s happening inside their world, which often is more confusing to them than to us. I extend to her the life line, “When you’re ready to talk about it, I’m here, wanting to listen.”
Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.