When I was growing up, I had a friend whose mother hardly ever came out of her bedroom.
On the rare occasion that we peeked into her room to ask for a ride somewhere or money to go to the corner store, she was always laying on her bed, reading a romance novel. There were piles and piles of books. She spent a lot of time reading in there.
I never got the impression that she was depressed. She was an elementary school teacher. She wasn’t morose. The lights were on. She cooked dinner. She’d say “hello” if she saw you. She yelled at us if we got too loud. But she was largely checked-out of her kids’ lives.
I was always confused by it.
On one hand, I envied my friend because I had a mom who was always around, always up in my sh@#$, always hassling me about this or that. But, on the other hand, it seemed like her mom wasn’t being much of a mom.
As the mother of two often-moody adolescent girls, I get it now. There are a lot of times and days that I just want to quit parenting and lock myself in my room with a book because mothering is really freaking hard now. It’s thankless and exhausting and infuriating.
I get now why she sequestered herself in her room and escaped into her books, journeying far away from the land of hungry teenagers, squabbling siblings, and the never-ending demands of mothering.
But I’m my mother’s daughter and I, too, am a constant — probably highly annoying — presence in my daughter’s lives. Though Dan certainly helps in the parenting arena, I’m the heavy lifter. Most moms are. It’s me bugging them relentlessly about homework and brushing their teeth and emptying the dishwasher and feeding the cats and on and on.
I have, on occasion, shut myself in my bedroom with my Kindle, or snuck out to the hammock, or escaped to the mall for an hour (or five) of peace and solitude, but I refuse to check out, no matter how hard it gets and no matter how much I want to because I know they need me to be stronger than their emotions.
My mother may not have liked me on more than a few occasions when I was a teenager, but I will tell you that I never once doubted that she loved me. She was always there for me and my brothers and sisters and she still is today.
This Letter Your Teenager Can’t Write You spoke to me. It’s a reminder of my friend’s mom who checked out, my mother who weathered the storm, and why I must, too.
I need this fight and I need to see that no matter how bad or big my feelings are—they won’t destroy you or me. I need you to love me even at my worst, even when it looks like I don’t love you. I need you to love yourself and me for the both of us right now. I know it sucks to be disliked and labeled the bad guy. I feel the same way on the inside, but I need you to tolerate it and get other grownups to help you. Because I can’t right now. If you want to get all of your grown up friends together and have a ‘surviving-your-teenager-support-group-rage-fest’ that’s fine with me. Or talk about me behind my back–I don’t care. Just don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on this fight. I need it.
At about mile 8 in a half marathon, my brain starts thinking, “I can’t stand this,” and I have to override those thoughts and remind my whiny, selfish brain, that, no, we CAN stand this. We stand it all the time. We’ve standed it probably 60+ times now. We are strong and tough and experienced, and there’s no effin’ way we’re going to stop, so suck it up and get it done.
I may walk at the water stops. I may swear a blue streak (ha..ha “may” — will, is more like it). I may hate everyone and everything around me. I may feel sorry for myself. But I will not give up the fight. Not in a half marathon and not in the mothering marathon.
About Just Write “What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”