Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mommy and Me: The Teenage Edition

You know those Mommy and Me groups where moms get together and drink coffee and compare diaper brands while their babies roll around on the floor? They set up play dates and share ideas about naps and support each other through teething and first-day-of-kindergarten jitters. Pinterest now has whole boards dedicated to cute food and lunch recipes, the best craft projects, and suggestions for mother-daughter dates. Magazine articles discuss the fine balance between career aspirations and juggling sports schedules and dance recitals.

These are all great. Because being a mom is a tough job and these outlets and groups provide support for moms during these important formative years. But you know what? There's a huge segment of the population left in the dark. These are the moms of teenagers, who probably need the support more than the moms complaining that every shirt they own has a spit-up stain on it.

Teething? Walk in the park. Colic? That was nearly unbearable, but it ended. Those first days of school, while tearful, are reasons to celebrate. They're bittersweet milestones that we live for. I had oodles of patience when my daughter was a baby. I was so completely smitten with her. I felt like she was my purpose in life. When she cried, it was merely a matter of discerning the reason and Fixing It for her. Cake. Seriously.

Teenagers are a completely different animal. There are jokes about how hard it is and how they're these alien beings. The older moms I know promise me that she'll come back. I recently read a really beautiful analogy, something about how children are in their own orbit and during the teenage years it's dark because they're on the other side of the moon and you just have to wait for their homecoming.

Only I don't want to wait. I want it all to be okay now. I want to know that I'm not the huge failure I feel that I am on a nearly daily basis. I want her back now. The dark is too dark.

D has depression. I have depression. D has anxiety. I have anxiety. What all of this means is that there is an extra layer of difficulty. She finds it harder to concentrate; she's easily overwhelmed. But she constantly self-sabotages and I can't get her to see that. I find it harder to deal with her. When she isn't home at the designated time and doesn't return texts, I stare out the window waiting for the cops to show up at my door and tell me she's gone. We yell about what's fair and what isn't fair. There are empty promises and chance after chance after chance.

She's smart but she won't try. Her grades reflect her apathy. She has one more year and I feel like I can't do it. If she's not sitting right in front of me, I can't trust her to do what needs to be done. Hell, I can't even trust then that she isn't sitting there staring at Facebook or Tumblr. And, heading into her senior year, I shouldn't have to hold her hand and be on her every minute.

This is where we need a new kind of Mommy and Me. Maybe the kind where we drink bottles of wine and pass around the Kleenex box and commiserate about what selfish little turds teenagers are. The kind where we can say the dark, ugly things we feel and not be judged for them.

I have never felt more alone in my life. It's an endless cycle of just feeling like shit. She's difficult, I'm tired. I know that high school ends and she can do what she's supposed to do so I encourage, I prod, I threaten, I plead, I cajole. I get tired. I want to give up. I want to walk away or run away. I want to leave her to fend for herself because it just isn't worth it. What kind of mother does that? I feel guilty, I hate myself, I hate my life, it all hardly seems worth it. Guilt, guilt, guilt. So I try again but it's more exhausting. She needs me. I'm responsible for her. I don't want to fail. I don't want her to fail. I don't care.

I also am always holding back. I want to tell her that she's sucking the goddamn life out of me. That she makes everything harder for me and can she just get it the fuck together and stop slowly killing me. But the words never leave my mouth because they are not words you say to a child with depression. They are not words that a mother says to her child. And yet I need her to know, but I know that she can't handle it yet. So. The vicious cycle repeats.

Yeah, this isn't a happy day. I'd like to sit here and tell you that I will rally. That another day is another chance. That I'm stronger than I think. The truth is though, that isn't how I feel. These are the things They don't tell you. There is no help menu, no magic troubleshooting wizard. It's just hard.

The dirty truth is that sometimes, some days are just harder than the rest.


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