I have two beautiful, wonderful, amazing and stressful teen daughters. They’ve spewing negative comments and criticism seemingly non-stop since their dad and I split up last fall. I know divorce isn’t easy on anyone, but their words have been filled with anger and malice and it’s wearing me down.
After facing the ridiculousness of post-divorce life, the last thing I’ve needed is for my own kids to point out my shortcomings. Just when I think I’m on better ground with myself, there’s yet another comment pulling me backward.
I’m not proud to admit that I’ve been getting angry with them rather than talking it through. I’m sure that is a great deal of our difficulties.
Yes, they are kids. Yes, I am the parent. But, it just sucks some days. No matter which way you look at it. I don’t want to prevent them from expressing what they need to express. I’m the adult, I can think through what they really mean.
I had two major wake-up calls in 2013. Both were readjustments in our relationships for me and my girls.
In July, my oldest went on a vacation to the Adirondaks with a friend. She texts me on a Tuesday saying that she hurt her foot in a boating accident, but she’s okay. Two days later she is cranky as we text and then she tells me that she is unable to walk. Long story short, after the urgent care doctor said she needs to go to the hospital immediately, I drive 8 hours there on a Thursday night and 8 hours back home on Friday to take her to the emergency room. The doctors kept her overnight on IV antibiotics out of fear that she might have a fresh water bacteria (think of those stories in the news where people have had limbs amputated). I stayed with her the entire time, of course. Slept on a couch in her room. She took her fear out on me in the form of anger. I took it. I was patient. I was mom. Unfortunately her foot still isn’t back to “normal” and it’s been 6 months, but she has a foot and we got through it together. She is the luckiest girl that it was soft tissue damage and only a minor break. I had envisioned surgeries and pins when I first saw it. And I felt more like a parent than I had since my kids were infants. As they’ve grown we’ve become a family and have great, deep conversations, but not as much of the tender nurturing as when they were little.
In December, my younger daughter had brain surgery to (hopefully) prevent her version of the degenerative condition we share from progressing. She began to lose her speech during the summer and fought against it, as well as the headaches that have plagued her all of her life. I was the one who drove with her to Chicago to see the neurosurgeon three times before her surgery last year. I was the one who took time off from work (borrowed time from 2014) and stayed by her side for the 4 days in the hospital, as well as in the housing after she was discharged. We got through it together.
It’s my job to be there for my children. But, I’ve failed them more times than I can count due to various issues. I know I’m no different from any other parent, but the divorce hit all of us hard and they blame me for all of it. Because I was the parent who stayed by their side with no complaints, I know it left an impact – on all of us. Regardless of what happens, I am there for my children to the best of my ability. When they are in need, I will take care of them. Both of my girls needed to relearn that lesson and I needed to relearn what my priorities are.
Two of the greatest moments of the past year were when my daughters thanked me for being there for them. The best thank you was after surgery, my daughter, still hooked up to IVs, looked at me and said, “Thank you mommy for being here with me. I couldn’t have done this without you.” These children are what really matters in life. Having a surplus of money would be great. Taking a vacation every year would do me a world of good. But, being able to be a mom is the greatest gift I could ever imagine.