3.29.2011

Of Shamed Mothers And Slammed Doors

She threw her boots off, ran up the stairs and slammed her door.

I took a deep breath. We’re here already? I felt a knot in my stomach, and wondered if I had handled things poorly.

We had been playing in the park with another dad friend and his two girls. When Cassidy urgently had to use the bathroom, I left Mischa with our friends and ran Cassidy back home. By time we returned a few minutes later, the other girls had hatched a plan to all come over to our place for dinner. Don’t know if the dad had endorsed the plan (I’m guessing not), but when I told them that today wasn’t a good day for it, the girls did not react well. Mischa whined and vehemently refuted my answer, while the other 6 year old dissolved into angry tears. We left, and when we were on our way into the house, I told my daughter quite plainly that she should not make plans with friends before talking to me first. I told her that things had ended very badly at the park because she had not asked me permission before she invited her friends over. I never said anything as direct as, ‘It’s your fault,’ but I was blaming her for upsetting everybody.

That’s when the boots went flying and the door went slam. And I was left standing at the bottom of the stairs with a toddler who was now crying because we had left the park, and the very distinct feeling that I had chipped away slightly at the self-esteem that was just beginning to become identifiable in my young daughter. I felt horrible.

Once Cassidy had calmed down, I went upstairs. Mischa was under her covers. I asked her if we could talk. She told me to get out. I told her I didn’t want to get out, I wanted to talk. My manner was gentle, and all I wanted was to scoop her up in my arms. She continued to reject me. I asked her if she wanted me to leave, or if she wanted a hug. She screamed at me to get out. I told her I would leave her alone, and I did.

When did things get so complicated? When did we reach the point where instead of pining for the comfort of my arms, she runs from it? And when did I start to feel like every word I said had became laden with the possibility of damaging our relationship?

I already felt guilty about what was happening, but I knew I had the power to help it end well. I wouldn’t take it personally; I wouldn’t yell back; I wouldn’t reject my daughter or tell her she didn’t have a right to act this way. I was feeling sad, not exasperated, but I also felt like I had the opportunity to really be the mother I wanted to be. I knew there were more slammed doors and more hurt feelings in my future. I have two girls who will one day been teenagers. I’m not kidding myself on this one, but I am determined to have a good, respectful and solid relationship with them. I don’t want their teenaged years to be like mine.

I gave it about five minutes, and headed back upstairs. Mischa looked at me and immediately yelled at me to get out. I rubbed her back for a minute and I could feel her body begin to relax under my touch. We’re going to have these moments. I’m going to make mistakes and she’s going to make mistakes. I will always be me with her – I don’t know how to put on a mummy voice or adopt a different persona for my kids – but I will try to refrain from saying things that I will regret later, no matter how justified the words seem in the moment. I will say I’m sorry when I am. And I will let her know that we can be upset and still love each other.

Do you want me to leave, I asked again, or do you want a hug?

She leaped into my arms.

***

11 comments:

  1. Just being you is the best way to be. Great post. I can totally relate.

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  2. I can completely relate to this post. We can only do what we can as moms. Great post.

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  3. I need to leave Blogger just so that I can reply properly to comments, but thanks for the support, ladies. Feels so much better to have people say, I can relate.

    And @Jill - when a mom of 4 says I'm dong a good job, I'll take it ;)

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  4. I love that you looked for the opportunity to be the kind mother you want to be for your girls. So often we must be the mothers they need us to be (which is not at all the same thing). I admire your ability to step back from the heat of the moment so you could feel your way towards what you both truly needed. Bravo mama.

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  5. That was a heart-wrenching post for me. I am *terrified* of the teenaged mother-daughter relationship. Great job keeping your feelings out of it and being genuine. I should already be doing more of that.

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  6. Would you please be my momma, too?

    G is fortunately one who still needs support often, and yes, there are a lot of tears and arguments some days. As they grow into being stronger and more opinionated people with their own agendas, there are bound to be times they conflict with ours!

    We don't always handle it as well as we should, I think, and I don't shy away from telling her what she should do differently next time - you are right, they can't go making plans without consulting parents for a while yet - but I think you are right, too, that it is important to do so with respect and explanations as much as possible.

    glad for your mama's heart that she relented, though!

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  7. It always works out much better when I don't lose my own shit -like you said. Glad for your hug.

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  8. Well handled Mama.

    I try to be the bigger person in the end. To explain, to apologize and to offer my love, with a hug.
    What I most fear is the day that hug will be turned away. I hope we are on the right track and that will never happen.

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  9. Great post. I hope in the coming years I am able to handle situations in a similar fashion. Thank you for your honest post.

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  10. Auntie JennoApril 08, 2011

    Sometimes I freak out and sometimes I blame my daughter. I have yelled at her, slammed a few doors, and regretted a few words along the way. But 13 years later, there have been ways more hugs then rejections, a lot of apologies on both our parts, and a lot of forgiveness for being nothing more then human. And I am still my daughters best friend.

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Talk to me.