I got so many sweet, encouraging comments on yesterday’s post, I felt I should share how the night with my 11yo daughter ended.
When I picked up my daughters from school, my 11yo was happy and chatty, full of stories about her day. Things were busy as soon as we got home, and I couldn’t immediately grab any time to talk privately with her. After dinner she stood and asked if there was anything she could do to help me, and I took a moment to look at her and sincerely thank her for her thoughtful assistance. She surprised me by breaking down in tears. I had to scoop the 2yo off to bed, but promised her that we’d have a chat in my room once I was done.
Later we stretched out on my bed and talked. She cried some more and explained that what I had said in the morning about her sour attitude and her need to fix it really got to her, and that even though she agreed with what I said, she felt like I was singling her out (especially when the other kids do so many wrong things, too, she reasoned). I admitted that might be true, because I was most conscious of her right now, and most concerned. I explained that whether it was right or not, sometimes my radar is tuned in to one or two of the kids specifically, and I notice more and “pick” on those kids more than the others.
She continued by talking to me about some of her frustrations, then on to worries over school, and broke my heart by saying how much she still misses Oregon (it’s been two years since we moved to Texas). We talked for maybe an hour and she cried and laughed and kept quiet during that time. I reminded her that she needs to come to me with these things more often – not to be fooled by how busy I seem or what kind of mood I’m in or whether or not she thinks I’d be interested. My rule with our kids is if they come to me and specifically say, “Mom, I need to talk to you,” that’s my cue to just sit down and listen. I also reminded her that although it’s never alright to disrespect or disobey me, she still has the right to come to me and say that she feels picked on or that something I said made her feel bad. I’m not always right, and sometimes I need to be called on my “stuff,” too.
At the end, she started crying all over again – big, hard tears. She told me that she felt lucky to have me as a mom, that some kids don’t have a mom who would take time like that or try so hard to understand. I told her I thought I was pretty lucky, too – and then we snuggled like we did when she was much younger.
Not every tense situation is going to end like this, I know. And I’m not telling the story to boast or show off (I have PAH-LENTY of flaws that tip the other side of the scale!!). But I guess it’s just a testimony to me that the time and effort and heartache it takes to dig in and really parent is worth it. Don’t let any of the guff they throw at you scare you away from trying to have the relationship you dream of having, or raising the kind of person you’re proud to know.