I for one have noticed a definite rhythm, an ebb and flow in my relationship with my child. There are times when I feel so gosh darn connected, so in step, so perfectly in kind with my child- I understand where she's at, I feel able and willing and that I am meeting her needs the way she needs me to (and liking it!) and everything just flows. However- these times are usually followed by subsequent other times, periods of time where parts jut out and mash together and make funny noises and jam- times when I'm feeling out of whack, or she is, or we both are- when I don't know what she needs, or how to give it to her, or doing so makes me feel taken advantage of, or wiped out, or whatever. We're just not jiving.
That's kind of where we are now.
DD is in a funny place- pushing her limits, testing people's love, testing her ability to influence others, to make them feel happy, angry, sad- to make them laugh or cry or be short or cross. And it's a hard place for me, as a Mom- when I hear her call me or others "stupid" (a word she learned originally from a neighbor friend she adores), part of me wants to minimalize the effects of a word and maximize the manner the word is used- but the other part of me is going, "oh my gosh, my child's calling me/someone else stupid, she can't do that! I have to make her know that this is 'not okay'!"
It's this tug of war within myself- to accept her at all costs, and to "keep her" from becoming a self centered person unaware or unconcerned with the effect her actions have on others, and subsequently shunned by society.
Writing that down, seeing that out loud, makes that fear look pretty silly.
My daughter- my lovely, exuberant, loud, wild, passionate, gentle, rough, silly, sensitive child- is at little (true) risk of becoming a "self centered person unaware or unconcerned with the effect her actions have on others". That I know in my heart, even if in the moment the way she is behaving seems truly selfish and hurtful- and maybe even is.
Not only do I have a good heart-sense of who she is and why she's doing things (when I dare to tune into it) but I've read and heard enough to know that this is true- she is a developing small person with lots going on and there are a lot of developmentally sound reasons for this behavior.
Even if it is- inconvenient, scary, and possibly socially unacceptable.
These, I think, are the real issues. My real issues.
I am bothered by the inconvenience. It simply "looks bad" to have your child acting in this way- saying "mean" (or as my cousin says, "naughty") things- yelling- hitting- throwing sand. It begs the question- "why are her parents (her mother) allowing her to behave this way?" Our culture is not child-friendly to begin with, nevermind when a child is having a moment that is not pretty, quiet, and picture- perfect.
I am bothered by my own fears about her behavior. That it represents a bigger picture, a bigger problem, the tip of the iceberg, a symptom of a massive and capsizing illness threatening to explode from beneath her surface at any moment. A mere example of how I've failed her. That, because of my ineptness as a parent, she has become a (now here's a phrase to make all my fellow AP-ish parents recoil) "bad child". You know, the kid no one wants their kid playing with.
And probably- well, screw that, most likely- I am even more worried about this because DD is the daughter of a teenage mother- of teenage parents. She was at birth a horror story waiting to be written. Of course, there was none of that, but I feel that stereotype hot on my heels at every difficult moment- at every less-than-wonderful moment of my own- that judgement from others; "Well, how did you expect that child to turn out? Her mother had her at seventeen, for God's sake."
So much of how I see my daughter is really about ..... Me. My fear, my insecurities, my lack of courage.
- Deep breath.
Maybe in order to help my daughter be more loving, more secure, more calm and trusting in the innate rightness of her world, I need to develop myself in the same areas. Maybe I need to love myself, trust myself a bit more- and loose sight a bit of how my parenting, my child, are being perceived.
In ten, twenty, thirty years, I know I'm not going to care how the "world" rated me as a parent.
There's only one person who's judgement is going to matter.
And we all know who she is.