Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maintaining the Connection

It's Saturday morning, the first weekend of the school year, and I'm sitting in the kitchen,  doing the crossword puzzle, waiting for H to wake up.  I just realized I've been doing this almost every morning for the last 16 1/2 years.  I feel like my day doesn't start until  she's awake.  Typically, on the few days that she doesn't have to wake up early for school or some other activity, we let her sleep in.  Theoretically.  But I usually can't just go on and do what I need to do until she gets up.  What is up with that?  When she's out of town, it's not as bad.  I will go ahead and do whatever I have to do, but until I get a text or phone call from her, I'm still on edge.

I've been really sentimental and emotional lately.  Even catching glimpses of "Bethenny Getting Married?" on TV will make me tear up.  Seeing the usually bitter, acerbic Bethenny Frankel get all mushy and gushy about her new baby daughter takes me back to the wonder and the profound love that smacked me over the head when H entered our world.  I wonder if it's this bad when people have more than one child.

These intense emotions are being exacerbated by the fact that my sweet, loving, sensitive almost 17-year-old daughter is experiencing some normal bouts of moodiness.   Last night, we were at a party, and she was at the Friday night football game with friends.  We had not seen her much all week, since school had started, and Friday we saw her even less.  She left for school at 7 a.m., went to her Friday volunteer job after school, and ran in to take a 5 minute shower before leaving to get ready at a friend's house.  When she texted me that she was home, I couldn't wait to leave our party to get home and talk to her for a few minutes before she fell asleep.   (I know, I know...get a life, mom!)

Anyway, we came home about an hour later, and I went upstairs to chat with her.  She had a different idea.  When I think of it from her point of view, (long week, emotionally drained, needing to decompress)  I completely understand, but it was still difficult for me.  She was in her bed, watching some mindless TV, and I came bursting in wanting to hear all about her night.  She did NOT feel like sharing...just didn't have the energy.  I reverted back to childhood and kind of stomped off, then she felt guilty and apologized.  Not the outcome I had imagined or wanted for the evening.

When I reach WAYYYYY back into my memory of being a teenage girl, I remember the need to establish some freedom and autonomy from my mom.  I needed to assert my independence from my mom,  but still needed the connection... although I had no idea how to do it.  As a result, I know I pushed her away.  So there was that give and take that I'm experiencing now.  She pushes me away, and then when I go away, she tries to pull me back in.  She experienced an incredible growth this summer from her experiences at Adventure Treks,  Operation Smile, and Design Camp at NCSU.  She is discovering things about herself, and in an effort to develop that sense of self, she feels the need to rebel a little against my control.  I know that...my common sense tells me I need to let go a little bit...but my emotional side keeps fighting back. 

We're making some progress.  The good part is she's developing a really good connection with her dad.  They walk the dog together, or have lunch together, and she is telling him more now than she did as a young girl.  I do bite my tongue many times when I want to ask for more details than she gives, and try to keep my tidbits of "advice" which she always sees as criticisms, (are you going to wear that?  I like your hair better this way, etc) to a minimum. 

In other words, when she pulls away, I'm trying not to pursue as hard.  She does always come back.   Every now and then, when the stars align, I am in her bedroom when she feels like talking, and we have some wonderful discussions and connect in a way that gives me hope for the future.  I think she reaches out when I don't push so hard.

So my hope for this school year, is that she continues to find out more about herself...her goals, her dreams, and who she wants to be.  The only way that is going to work is if I let go.  Not all the way.  Just more than I have in the past.   We will always be bound together, but I'm going to give her some slack in the rope.