Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What did you say?

This post is primarily for those of you who have children. And those of you who do not, go ahead and post a response if you have any thoughts. RANT WARNING! So those of you not in the mood for that kind of thing can just skip this post. I am sure I will be back soon with something else!

Girls. What is it about being a mother and raising a girl that is so difficult? The boys are challenging, yes they are. But they are challenging in a different way. They want to kill each other most days and work that out through jumping on each other and chasing each other around the house wielding toys as potential weapons! This I can handle. This I know how to deal with. But girls.

I have to be honest, I am not the best of mothers when it comes to dealing with my daughter. There is something about the mother/daughter relationship that is different, easy to figure out on the surface but once you dig deeper, so hard to manage and to contain your frustration. I remember having the same beef with my mother. She just didn't understand. She wasn't listening to me. She is mean and quite frankly not in touch with what I am going through. Yea, I was one of those girls. And so I try to remember what my frustrations were as a daughter and use that to interact with my daughter, and you know what: It's not working!

Some of this is probably because this type of interaction is being interpreted by someone young, emotional and confused. We all were. And part of it is that I see in her every little thing that annoys me about myself. A mirror of my shortcomings. And that is an uncomfortable place to be. It hits every nerve in my body and I see myself outside myself acting like a crazy person. Unable to get a hold of my emotions. But the thing that drives me the most crazy is the mouth.

Talking back, mumbling under your breath, telling me - outloud - that I am mean and the ever popular: "Just forget it!" Well I can't just forget it. I was just slandered. I was just told that I didn't say something when I KNOW I did. I was being called a liar. And oh, my potentially calm mother instincts turn into a crazy, screaming banshee. Yes, I do scream. I try not to but it's almost as if I am outside of my body looking down at this out of control person and I am yelling at HER to stop screaming but she is screaming so loudly she can't hear me. It is that disconcerting and upsetting to me.

And I can hear all of you now, "It's not about you, Keisha!" And I know this. I know this. And I cannot get a grip sometimes. Believe me I am better than I used to be. I am better than the post I wrote a year or so ago. But I am not better enough. I have done the deep breathing and the time out for myself. I have counted as high as 100 to regain my composure. And when I am tired and frustrated, I cannot manage to go that place of serenity. To my "Woooo Saaaa" place.

There is no need to placate me or tell me that it is part of being a mother because I get all that. And I really want to do some kind of socialogical study on why it is that mothers and daughters are like this. I mean really understand it. It feels like something we can overcome, that we can break the cycle. Much like when your ancestors were alcoholics and so you decide to not drink. There is an emotional and physical response that maybe we can analyze and end, right? Oh please tell me that there is. And some women have perfectly healthy relationships with their mothers. I have a much better one with my mom now than I ever did and part of that was having my own children and learning how difficult it is to raise little people.

And I love my daughter. I adore her and think she is the coolest kid ever. I think she is talented beyond measure, creative, her own person and compassionate. And I don't like her very much. And when the two of us are in the same room for too long it turns into a battle. Like this morning when I told her she could not wear leggings with a ton of holes in them to school. You would think I was Joan Crawford in "Mommy Dearest!" The crying and the wailing. The talking back - which is really what set me off. So that my constant phrase with her is: "What did you say?"

There is a perceived sense of defiance on her part, a disrespect and an echo of me at 10, 11, 12. It's got to be in the DNA and its got to be rooted out. So, this is my dilemna this morning. And sitting down and writing this post has helped me calm down and think of all of this differently. And in the moment that clarity is so hard to find. And this is the nature of raising girls, some say. But I would like to defy nature.

My latest mantra - On Children ~ Kahlil Gibran
(performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock)
Your children
Are not your children
They are the sons and the daughters of life's longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you
And though they are with you they belong, not to you.

You can give them your love but not your thoughts
They have their own thoughts
You can house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow, which you cannot visit
Not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them but you cannot make them just like you...

Be well.


Jess said...

Oh dear. I'm starting to go through that now and my daughter's just 5. I don't know how we're going to survive preteen.

And to the mother who heard Ellie and said, "My daughter would never be so disrespectful to me" - you nearly got decked. I've never hit anyone before, but I think it would have made me feel better. That and if I told her that Ellie is a heck of a lot more creative and independent than her daughter.

Ah well. If you find something that works, let me know.

Laura said...

Oh dear. I remember being sullen for several consecutive years. I drove my Mother, my Aunt and my Nana bonkers on a summer car trip to TN (no AC, vinyl seats, three smokers - FUNN!

Alls I can say is: DUCK! your child has estrogen poisoning and it's highly contagious.

Ben was way worse at this age than KK is, so I have yet to experience the wrath of KK on hormones. However, no one dodges it, so I hope to learn from you (yes, even the yelling!). Keep me posted. And get some evening primrose oil and pour it over her.

Erica said...

Lord hammercy. I fear it, lady, I fear it. The crazy thing is: I never went through this with my own mom. But this was not because I was such a good kid (I WASN'T), but because she had an endless wellspring of patience and ability to not perceive things as being about her. And lest you think I am about to just say how great my mom is: I'm about to tell you my perception of the flip side. She was an incredible mom of a kid and adolescent. As I have become an adult--pretty much utterly disinterested. I think there's something in that wellspring of total calm that can end up as ambivalence in adulthood. Like she used it all up (god knows I would have used anyone's patience up around 14 years old...). My point being: I know it must be crazy now, and I imagine when Solveig gets there I'll be sending you rants, too. But I think that this is a stage that you're going through together that may well end up as a certain kind of closeness when she's older that some of us don't have now. Maybe. Just maybe. How hard can we grit our teeth until then?...

YardieGal said...

interestingly enough, my daughter tells me she is NOT having kids. Well, there is my example of mommy-

Stephanie said...

For your sociological study, I think part of what makes this conflict so difficult to resolve is not only does a mother see her own perceived shortcomings in her daughter but that the daughter sees her mother as her future. I clearly remember my mother saying to me "Oh, you're just like me" after I had reacted poorly to something or had behaved in a way that I later regretted. Coming from a woman who was an undiagnosed bipolar prone to rage during my years at home, I found this terrifying. I still find myself worrying that I'm more like my mother than I care to be.

But I think even in normal mother-daughter relationships, daughters fear becoming their mothers. Your mother is your most natural role model. When you're eleven or twelve, you have all these dreams of being someone important, wealthy, famous, etc., and you can't understand the value in your mother's choices until you're much older and maybe have children of your own. And you can see with all the wisdom and knowledge a twelve-year-old possesses where your mother went wrong. I can't count the times I said to myself, "If I were a mother, I would never treat my children like that."

In the books and movies it's always so freeing when a daughter hears from her mother, "You are not me. Your choices will not be the same as my choices. You are your own person."

nicole said...

I know our daughters are about the same age but I did go thru this a bit but something has changed...I really think a lot is hormonal b/w 9-11 and mine is just at that point of joining into womanhood so things are calming down. I'm not sure if it was hormones, vegetarianism and not getting enough protein but I even had all of her essential vitamins/nutrients checked and she did a 2 hour fasting glucose! She was so extremely moody that I couldn't take it...I don't scream, it drives her to tears even when we yell. But it will pass and come back for sure just try a different approach to see if that shakes her resolve some!