I was, what I believe, your typical pre-teen / teenager: hormonal, know-it-all, sassy, and grossly wronged on the regular by both my parents and the universe. Typical, right? In my strong-willed angst, mid door slam, cranking Pearl Jam up so the whole neighborhood would know I had once again experienced injustice, I could hear my mama say “I hope you have one JUST LIKE YOU!” She said it often, and with vigor.
My mama should play the lotto.
While we are not quite at pre-teen age, my eight year old is me made over. And frankly, I am a little alarmed of what is to come. She is head-strong, set in her feelings (because they are always right, obviously), stubborn, and emotional. Exactly like her mama. Don’t get me wrong, she is a deeply kind, smart soul with a big heart who loves fiercely. All of these traits combined will help her move mountains in anything she pursues in her bright future.
However, parenting this age has its challenges. I feel that in today’s fast moving pace of life, our children, through both school and social interactions with their friends, are starting to experience bigger feelings and ideas about who they are and the kind of person they want to be. Ideas that they are not quite old enough to process just yet because it is too soon. And for us, that comes with my child being irrationally angry with me. It can come out of nowhere and over the oddest things. For her, it is being negative about the craziest of things, such as me wanting to take her to do something fun. It will be too hot or too cold. She does not like the mode of transportation. How long do we have to stay? What if she gets hungry? It can be really exhausting and given my own similar strong-willed (husband would chime in with cranky if given the chance) personality, it sometimes becomes an absolute battle … just to do something fun. The negativity about going to live our life is baffling to me. I enjoy doing all the things, all of the time, and I hope to cultivate this in her and her sister.
So I force myself to take a deep breath. Sometimes I have to walk away for a minute or a mile trek through the neighborhood. And on more than one occasion, I have absolutely had to apologize for my own behavior and reactions to her emotions. I hope that she sees strength in those moments, that her mama loves her deeply but is not perfect and that I do not expect her to be. And then I do my best to explain that my goal is only for her to have a good time and enjoy her life in between the homework, chores and bedtimes, whether it be at a festival or a stroll around the neighborhood. That I want to spend time with her and make special memories together. Because as her mom, I know she is going to have fun. We always do. Just last week we had a wonderful girls’ date at a little outdoor festival, connecting, dancing, and shoveling down snoballs. These fun memories absolutely always outweigh the negative moments and maybe having one just like me is not a bad thing.