Breaking the rules is fun, staying up late on a school night
is cool and breakfast in bed for dinner is a must! If you can relate – and you
have enough structure in your household to know the difference – then youve figured
out how to connect with your kids.
“Times sure have changed,” I thought as I slipped on
my dress and high heels to take my teenager to a mother-daughter tea that a
classmate’s mother was hosting for a fun social event.
I had no memory of any experiences like that with my mother.
We had our share of sentimental moments, but life was simple, real simple. I’m
raising my family quite differently than my own upbringing in little Tucson,
Arizona. Yet I still make best efforts
to keep my family grounded and create memories that will hopefully be
meaningful to them one day.
I wondered on Saturday how I got so lucky – to have two
great intimate experiences with my daughter in one week. Any of you with a teenager will feel me when
I say that connecting with a teenager is not easy. Staying close is even harder.
I have enjoyed all the different stages of raising my girls –
but watching my oldest find her own identity both inspires me and scares the
crap out of me. I feel as though I’m
walking a fine line between staying close and keeping enough distance not to
rock her ever-so-fragile teenage world.
I’ve had a valuable, trusting relationship with my mother
all my life and I pray that I’ll maintain that with my girls. I desperately want to be that one call that
my daughter will make when she’s in trouble or even better yet, the call she
makes to stay out of trouble.
Last Thursday she asked me if we could have a special
night. In my family, that means a sleepover
with me. One-on-one time, sharing a bed,
no boys, just good old fashioned mother-daughter time.
I love it, but it’s hard to come by with so many kids, and lets face it,
the older they get, the more time alone they want.
Not only was I touched by her request, I was so happy to
know that at any age we can still snuggle up together in one bed and enjoy some
girl time. After homework was finished, I
popped in The Sixth Sense – I’m a sucker for a good thriller and my daughter is
obsessed with scary movies. I poured us
two bowls of cereal, nothing better than a little room service in bed, and it
felt like a childhood sleepover.
We took fun pictures
and spent more time editing and posting them than actually watching the beginning
of the film. Social media addiction is
something we love and hate about each other.
The older she gets, the more I realize we have so much in common. I think the apple didn’t fall far, and then I
recognize in her traits that are my polar opposite and I wonder whom the hell
she came from.
But I embrace it all, her best and worst days. I commit to being part of all of them – in
the ways she will allow me. I have
learned when to reach out, when to back down, when to talk and when to
listen. It’s all the kind of very tricky
teenage interactions that no handbook can prepare you for. Kind of like the unwritten manual that every
women longs for when you realize that mother nature F’d us over.
I love my girls, at every age and I fight to stay connected
with them through even the ugly stages.
As a mother, I have to remember when I was a daughter. I always tell my kids that I was once there,
and I was crafty, so they will probably never be able to pull a fast one on
me. I only ask for honesty and trust and
I try so much to give them the same.
I know I’ll never have all the answers for their questions,
but I try to discover the best way to maneuver through life with them. Every time my daughter asks me for advice and
confides in me, I know it’s my best opportunity to walk beside her and be a
guide. What’s beautiful for me, with my
oldest is that I also value her opinion.
Respect is a two-way street for every member of a family and
kids need it too.
I know that as mothers, we must focus on parenting, not
friendship – but every once in awhile it’s ok to break the rules, connect on a
different level and just enjoy each other’s company. My
father NEVER ever broke the rules, so every now and then I make up for what was
missing in my childhood.
I say “no” so much that sometimes “YES” feels really good,
even if it means a crummy bed and spilled milk.
Waking up tired was well worth the fun we had which robbed us of a few
hours of sleep.
I’ll never be confused by whether I am being a mom or being
a friend… I’m always a mom.