A unique perspective on parenting a teenager

I was talking with an old friend today and it dawned on me that I haven’t written much about my new perspective on raising a teenage girl.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve shared much about that experience at all.  Maybe a few hints here and there in some of my updates.  So here it goes.  I suppose I should say – trigger warning – this will be a rough story involving some very touchy subjects.  I won’t go into great detail – but they are kind of necessary to understand the catalysts behind things.

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It’s been almost 3 years since my daughter attempted suicide.  My girl… my baby… I’ll never forget the phone call from my ex husband.  It was late.  I was to meet them at the ER.  She was ok, physically, but she was not ok.  I was shocked.  I didn’t know it was coming – not by a long shot.  I climbed into that hospital bed and didn’t leave her side.  Quit my job.  Spent a year off just to get her to a healthy place again.  We got therapy for her.. and me.  We talked.  And talked.  And talked some more.  I learned more than I wanted to learn – but wouldn’t change it for anything.  She had her reasons – and while I won’t share any more of her end of that story – suffice it to say that these reasons were valid and justified and horrifying and nearly ripped my heart from my chest when I finally heard them.

Since then… we’ve built a new type of relationship.

We share absolutely everything.  I am transparent with her about absolutely everything.  So long as she asks.  There is no topic off limits, and no topic where I won’t give her a very straight up, very real answer to.  Even when it’s uncomfortable for me. I swear, the first time she asked me about masturbation and sex toys I damn near fell over!  But, over time, it’s become easier and quite frankly it feels more natural.  Sometimes I’ll preface things I say to her with “I’m telling you this because I’m being transparent, but I want so badly to shield you from it…” kind of statement.  Or I’ll say “I’m going to put my foot in my mouth about this…” and then share.

So many who meet us – think I’m nuts.  That i’m too open about things.  Too real.  But she’s going to be a full fledged legal adult in 2.5 years.  And she’s already been exposed to a lot of very grown up situations, as much as I would have wished otherwise.  At this point, the only thing to do, is to be real with her.  To break down and dissect the world around her, and make sure that home is safe, and that the people I let into my world are safe for her too.

And can I say – this whole experiment…because that’s essentially what it is – I am in unknown territory and am just trying to find my way through experimentation… has been eye opening.  I’m glad I went about it.  And I don’t believe it works for EVERY kid.  But I will say, it’s working for her.  She’s blooming.  She feels safe.  She’s making healthier emotional choices and seems to have healthier relationships now because of it.  She’s looking bigger picture and not getting so wrapped up in petty high school drama.  It’s inspiring to watch. The people in our world, who know her, and what she’s been through, have all commented that they see a change in her.  That she seems happy now.  She’s thriving and I’m so proud of the woman she’s become and is still becoming.  When she was born – I remember whispering to her that she was “the greatest thing I ever did”.  And even now – she’s one of 3 of “the greatest things I ever did.”

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Sometimes, weird evenings are the best

I typically write my blog post before I write a title for it.  I often wonder if other bloggers do this too, but perhaps the way I write is unusual.  For me, it’s journal-style.  Where I can easily spill my thoughts, as fragmented as they sometimes are, onto a page and then go back and make sense of them.  Group them, and fix any errors, and then come up with a title.  I’m sure I have quite a few drafts of posts that I never finished… untitled… just sitting there waiting to be completed – and yet – I never come back to them. Each blog post is fresh.  Why can I not just delete them?  I guess there are just some thoughts I don’t want to finish.

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I’m having a weird evening.  I finished tidying up the living room and locking up the house, was heading to take a shower.  Then I figured I’d do a little writing.  Went to grab my laptop, got distracted by a messy kitchen, tidied it a little bit and here I am… finally writing, with no shower.  Time has completely escaped me this evening because when I look at the clock – it’s getting late.  Can I just say – sometimes, as a single mom, it’s hard to keep up.  I don’t feel good – I think I’ve got a kidney stone.  I’ve had them before.  You range from uncomfortable to downright misery for a few days and then everything returns to normal.  Well – at least, in my case.  But because I’m uncomfortable, it’s making me a little slower, with a lot less energy.  I’m looking around my messy house – God, I need a maid. And a vacation.

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It’s R’s last week with us here, and we spent some time chatting this evening.  I will miss our chats.  We’ve learned how to communicate with each other – which means we can communicate about just about anything without upsetting or offending the other person.  We’ve had some very interesting conversations about things like racism, religion, the after life, as well as things like the perfect burger or what we’d do if a zombie walked randomly down the street.  She made me promise I’d call her.  DUH woman! 🙂  But I think we’re both kind of feeling a weird sadness over the incoming goodbye.

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Well – it’s now an hour later than when I started this… and I still need to shower and prep for my early morning.  But I couldn’t help myself… I just had to say that I’m so grateful for my life – my crazy world and everyone I surround myself with.  My village of friends and family.  The people I love.  It was thoughts, many inspired by them – that I write in this blog.  Much love to you neverland.  Goodnight.

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The end of an emotional weekend

What a weekend I had.  My daughter had a friend over for a sleepover, and while I will not divulge details about this girl, I will share that her mom, a dear friend of mine, passed away a couple years ago.  It was… absolutely heart breaking then, and shook me to my core.  I still think about her every single day. And it’s been a long time since we’ve spent time with that family. So this weekend has certainly left me feeling emotional…  And protective over children, in general.

Last night, she asked if we could take a moment and do a group snuggle – because she didn’t get that much at home these days.  My heart broke as I snuggled both girls for a while.  I stayed up way too late, snuggling and chatting with them.  Caught up on how her life had been since we’d last seen each other.  And it shook me all over again.  I tucked them in and stayed up tossing and turning over it all.  This morning, I took them out for breakfast.  Waffles with cotton candy on top – because .. that’s why.  Just because.

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Because maybe, a little extra sweetness, be it a snuggle, a kind word, a funny story, or even cotton candy on top of a rainbow waffle … with sprinkles…. will somehow put a smile on a kid’s face.  And if that happens… maybe she’ll be able to survive this horrendous childhood that she has had.  Yea – I know it’s a stretch.  But damn it… what else can I possibly do?! She now has a standing invite to come over regularly, as well as halloween and any other time she needs a snuggle… but even I know … It’s not enough.

It’s interesting how small your own problems can become in moments like these.  I’ve cried a lot this weekend… cried for her, cried for mother, cried for the unfairness of it all, cried out of gratefulness for my own children… ugh.  I’m done crying, and tomorrow, my still partially sick butt has to get up and go to work and get my head in the game.

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It’s funny, this isn’t how I’d imagined my weekend turning out – but I wouldn’t trade it.  Maybe I needed a reminder … that my problems and stress are small in comparison to what they could be.  That I have it so much better than some, and have given my children a world that is healthy and positive and full of laughter and snuggles and love.  I have to remind myself that I cannot hug everyone.  I can’t heal everyone.  That I have to be content with helping those that I can… and not get hung up on those whom I couldn’t.

Goodnight Neverland.  I wish you all the best.

Much love,

Jen

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Processing… Please hold.

I got into a conversation with someone this morning, they were telling me of a conversation they had with my daughter.  Apparently there were things she didn’t want to talk to me about, simply because she worries that when I am stressed, I may not be able to handle it.  It surprised me to hear.  There is something strange and unsettling to hear that your child thinks you’re weak.  Or at the very least, sees a weakness that perhaps you don’t.  I don’t quite know how to fully process that.  But I know that I will.

It led to me thinking through all that I’ve been through.  My brain immediately went back to Ben.  The night we knew something was wrong and raced him, in the dead of the night, to the hospital. That drive will forever be etched into my brain.  The songs that played quietly on the radio, The ex’s steady calm.  Funny, the man would occasionally drive me crazy with his immaturities and lack of self control, but when everything fell apart… when the hour was dire… and we stood on the edge of a very scary storm… he was someone else.  Someone I respected.  I don’t think I ever told him that.  I don’t think I ever told him how, even now, after all this time… I trust him more than I trust myself.  That deep in my heart, he was my very best friend.  I wish I could help him understand how much I loved him.  I don’t think he ever really knew.  And telling him now would be taken weirdly.  I guess I can’t take back the words I never said.  We both had to take on and face the scariest thing we could have possibly imagined.  A situation where we had no control, we were completely helpless – our heart’s were in the doctor’s hands.  Doctors we trusted, because of an ideal in our heads – that somehow – doctor’s were infallible.  Oh how I regret feeling that way. I’ve never felt so ill-prepared when we learned of their mistakes.  And we were both hurt in the most unimaginable ways by it all. Scarred from the pain in many ways.

I thought back to the many days and nights where I would work and work and work… not because I’m a strange person who doesn’t want to have a life or free time… but because I knew it would put food on the table or give me the ability to get the kids gifts for christmas.  Those were the years when the ex and I would eat ramen or spaghetti o’s so the kids could have balanced meals. These were times when we had so much debt over our heads that we would have to ignore a ringing phone. There was always a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the world would crash down around us because we couldn’t pay a bill.

I thought back to days when depression and stress rang so loudly inside my head that I couldn’t even see myself within the cloud I was in.  When I would lay in bed and hide from the world, because it seemed smarter than going out and being hurt by it. When a person loses sight of who they are, and it takes them as long as I have to re-find yourself… there tends to be some disconnects.   I’ve changed in big ways since I last saw myself.  So it’s sometimes hard to trust my own intuition. Thankfully, In many ways, those changes were good.  I love myself now, and I know I didn’t before. I’m more laid back about so many things.  Life is going to happen… you can stress about it, or you can try and find a way to enjoy it.  And now, more than ever before, I’m aware of how strong I really am.  I’m sure most people have no idea the amount of fortitude and strength they actually possess.

It’s interesting, the stages you go through in life.  For every stage of stress or hell, there seems to be an opposing, equally joyous time to remember.  I suppose my knowing that is what keeps me going, keeps me strong.  Because, you see… I can’t give up.  I won’t give up.  It won’t happen on my watch!  I want to see what happens at the end of the story – and we’re not there yet.  Not even half way.

I suppose it’s also why I’m upset to hear that my child thinks I cannot handle hearing whatever detail she’s working through.  Please child… I’ve walked through hell – I think I can handle a little teenage highschool drama.

Have a great day Neverland!

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Single parenthood is not for the weak

I’m struggling with my child this month.  I don’t admit that easily.  She’s taken a giant leap into teenagehood and I’m not exactly thrilled about it.  I never realized how much can be affected by teenage drama.  I was so exhausted by it all this morning that I decided it was best to work from home.

I think what’s hit me hardest this morning, is simply how alone I feel in all of this.  I know that I’m not alone.  I have a fairly large support network.  I know that I’m luckier than a lot of folks.  But going through this, having to try and fill the role of both mother and father… trying to set an example and guide my child to find some sense of normalcy within her relationships… lately, these things scare the crap out of me.  Mainly because I’m the first to admit that I haven’t always been successful in those endeavors myself.

This past week has left me feeling drained.  I’ve cried, yelled, lectured, been exasperated.  I still don’t fully know what I’m going to do to bring life back to normal here at home… heck – maybe there is no such thing as “normal” when your life includes a teenage girl?  I certainly don’t feel like I’m able to have much of a life on my own at this point.  If I’m not working, I’m home dealing with her stuff; and the few times I’ve made plans in the last few weeks, something has come up to interrupt or ruin them.  It’s frustrating – not that I expect to have all THAT big of a social life – but I do try and get out.  Everyone needs a break occasionally.  My son sees his dad a few weekends a month, but my daughter… she’s with me 100 percent of the time.  Her drama has me desperately seeking peace and harmony.  And by seeking out those harmonious and peaceful moments – I’m also coming to the conclusion at how lonely it all is.  I’m in this by myself.  And it was me, who put myself here to begin with.  My step dad says maybe it’s my own karma from my actions as a teenager.  But that seems harsh… seeing as I wasn’t necessarily a difficult teen.  I didn’t party, do drugs, sneak out, I wasn’t out having sex or doing things that skirt that morally ethical line.  I argued with my parents, loved the art of debate in general, and my hormones at that age had me looking for and provoking fights.  But that’s it!  I stayed home, played video games and had my best friend over for sleep overs where we played loud music and talked about boys.  We would call the radio stations and request songs.  We’d drive to the mall on weekends or explore the local downtown area.  Trouble and drama was something I didn’t bring a lot into my life.  So I suppose I’m struggling to relate to my child just a little bit.

What I wish she could see – was the impact that she has on everyone else.  How, everytime she takes a slide backwards or veers off on an unsafe path – it is me, and her brother, who have to ride the waves she creates.  It is we… who have to survive the tornado that she creates, and no matter how much I lie to myself and think we’re through the tough stuff… I know it’s just the eye of a storm that I can’t control.

To all you single parents out there… I may be exhausted and drained and frustrated…. but I’m not defeated.  I stand with you.  We are the real super heros.

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