Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another viewpoint

Today I was meeting with our FST family therapist and we talked a lot about trying to keep remembering the good stuff instead of just focusing on all the negative stuff we're going through right now. It's hard to do that. All the tsuris that keeps piling up, one ridiculous episode atop another, makes it almost impossible for me to back up and focus on the stuff that makes parenting such an awesome experience.

When you have toddlers, there's that balance between tantrums and the amazing learning leaps your child makes. The tantrums are all painful, but the cool stuff keeps it mostly in balance. In elementary school, you get to watch your kids mold and form into their own personalities at the same time you argue with them over each independent step they want to take before you're ready to let go. Even in middle school, when kids are, let's face it, horrible hormonal bags of nasty, you experience their unique humor forming, their personhood emerging.

But by high school, that balance is seriously off kilter. What you mostly get is a big dose of the nasty, surly kid who is mortified to admit he is a part of your family at the same time he's begging you for money to get the hell away from you. Teenagers earn their reputation of being gigantic zitty toddlers with less impulse control. When you're immersed in parenting two teenagers, regular normal everyday teenagers, you never know where you fall on their radar. You just know it's WAY down at the bottom of the barrel. You've been replaced by their friends, who are more important and who do not set rules. That's all normal.

When you add mental illness to the mix, you end up with a volatile bundle of mixed emotions, and I don't mean the kid. I mean you, the parent. All of a sudden your sanity starts to wither away and all you become is a reactor. You spend your time reacting to what your child has done now, what the people dealing with your child have to say about your parenting, and what the hell went wrong. It's rarely the parent's fault, although there are those parents that you know are going to be fighting a huge battle later on in life with their "never say no" parented kids. By the time that kid hits the teen years, the coddling and over protection is only going to work against his parents.

What happens to parents of teens is that there is so much going on every freaking day, that the good stuff gets overlooked. Your kid isn't saying cute things anymore. He's not discovering something new and exciting like beets or how to stick his finger into a wall socket. He's not rearranging all the Christmas tree ornaments onto the bottom branches of the tree. Nope, he's cheating on tests, having sex (hopefully protected) in your car, lying on an hourly basis, smoking dope and most likely cigarettes as well, and drinking any alcohol he can get his hands on. All of a sudden his rebellious behaviors become dangerous. All of a sudden his bright future becomes marred. All of a sudden the kid that brought you nothing but joy and pride is bringing you nothing but fear and fury.

That fear of your child's failure, that fury over his stupidity tends to overshadow anything else. You forget that this child, the child of your heart and loins, is anything other than a pain in the ass that is driving you over the edge with stress and misery.

I forgot how much promise my son has. I forgot how much I love him. I forgot that he's only 15 and that there is still a bright future if we can solve some serious issues. I only focused on the negative stuff, because honestly, that's all there has been in months and months.

But my Boy is essentially a great kid. He's funny and smart and clever as can be. Yes, he's annoying. Yes he's impulsive. Yes he has no good judgement right now. All of those facts are true. They overshadow who he is and what he can become. When I look at him right now, it is with angry and disappointed eyes. I haven't been able to get beyond my own emotions. I'm tired of the constant battling. I'm tired of the string of bad news reports. I want my old Boy back, the one that shines brightly.

It will happen. We don't remain teenagers forever, thank HaShem. Can you imagine how much that would suck?

Maybe he's a late bloomer. Maybe he's too young emotionally for his peers, who are all 2-3 years older than he is. Maybe he's just in the midst of a crisis mode and is asking for help. I don't know. What I do know is that he's not going to be in this mode forever, and I have to keep remembering who he is underneath this swirling mass of anger and stupidity.

So please remind me, OK?

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Blogger Em said...

I promise to remind you that your kid is pretty cool...if you promise to remind me. With three teens in the house, it can get pretty bleak at times.

18/12/07 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this entry immensely. i can totally relate and will have my husband read it. I'm a big fan!

18/12/07 5:38 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

We deal with the roller coaster of emotions in a different setting -- my teen is on the autism spectrum, with Asperger's Syndrome. Yes, there are days. Weeks. Months. That I doubt myself and wonder how on earth this kid can grow up whole.

18/12/07 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was an awesome post! tears came into my eyes,you are a wonderful mother ,this should be on every teen parenting site for parents to read!!!

19/12/07 12:28 AM  

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