Why Are Tweens Like That?
Listen to the audio version!
Written on December 4, 2019
If I didn’t have close friends and family in my life, I may wonder if I have gone mad. When suddenly someone who worshiped me, started treating me as if I were irrelevant, I had to check myself. Did I lose touch of reality? Am I THAT annoying? Could everything I do and say cause such sassiness? Is it me, as I am told, by this powerful new being?
This has taken a toll on me for the past year. I am learning how to let it go, as the song suggests. When I sing this song out loud, as moments seem to warrant, I am given a deadly look, so I stop with a pouty face. When I can willfully conjure up a new attitude, the zen-times come back but they are fleeting. I don’t want to take it personally. I can’t take it personally, not if I want to enjoy my life. And I do.
Having someone negatively critique me repeatedly is difficult to take. It hurts. Sometimes I go to an old head-space during these scenes. I feel like I’m in a disempowered relationship from my past. One where I want to not show too much of myself for fear of my partner’s anger. These memories and feelings are uncomfortable. Yet I re-live them. Reality sinks in and I am relieved that I am not in those old relationships anymore. I have learned those lessons. I will not repeat them. This is not one of them! This relationship is normal. This is where I need to be.
I read something on social media last summer about teen attitudes. The article mentioned how teenagers need to push us away and then pull us closer. Over and over again, they will do this for about eight years. Eight years! They need to push our buttons and test our limits to know if we will still love them. They want to know if we will still be there for them. If we will continue to support them and be their guide when they ask us. If we fail, as parents, during this time, it will teach them they are not worthy of love.
Of all of the information I have read about parenting teenagers, this one resonated with me deeply and powerfully. Didn’t I know this? Reading these words, during the thick of it, felt like another mom was giving me a long and tight hug. “You got this, Mama,” she would tell me. “You are doing amazing. This is tough.” I felt a sigh. I knew I could do this. Even if I didn’t want to on that day.
“Fear hates uncertain outcomes…,” sayeth Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic.
In these moments, I think I’ve lost someone I’ve loved my whole life, with my whole big open heart. She is gone. And I’m scared. I’m scared of the future. I’m scared of the now. I don’t know if I am doing my best to foster her independence while nurturing her whole being.
I want to be silently available to her, waiting in the wings for when she makes the next move. I want to show my love without annoying the hell out of her. I want to still mother her because she isn’t capable of fully taking care of herself. Yet, she doesn’t want mommying. But I am a mother. I have been mommying for over eleven years. I don’t know how to shut it down so abruptly.
Thus, I turn my instincts off, on a whim, when its demanded of me. I wait in the background. I dive fully into my creativity. I feel pure joy at attending to my needs and desires with wild abandon. And then I pause and turn to her when she comes to me. When she is excited to share something that fills her up, I pause ME and I listen to HER.
She is the love of my life.
I feel her beauty again in these moments and I leap. I know I haven’t lost her. I know she needs me still. I know I am still a mother to a bright, independent, and fascinating child. Just like I have always known, her whole life.
When she is present with me, her warmth is nourishing like a lost love returning. It feels like I am winning. I have done some good by her. I’ve got this. We are okay. She is turning into a magical being, right before my very eyes. And I sink back into this ebb and flow that we are in. Our new normal.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
December 4, 2019