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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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Identity crisis right on schedule

When my kids were little, I read a lot of parenting books. With the lack of the web (yes, I began parenting before the world wide web even existed!) much of the needed advice came from books. Being a big obsessive, I began to worry at an early age just when the Girl would hit her teenage identity crisis. I read Raising Ophelia about 5 times, each time feeling less and less capable of ever being able to parent a teenage girl.

Fortunately, my Girl has a very strong sense of herself and she pretty much sailed through the worst of middle school. Not to say there wasn't an excess of drama, because there was, but she felt good about herself, she was into her appearance, she spent a lot of time matching her clothing and dressing meticulously, and she definately had the upper hand on dealing with the crap that comes with middle school.

However, this year, her sophomore year, is kicking her ass. She started out ok, and then the whole drama with her brother and her reaction, etc. just put her over the edge. She started dressing very differently. It's all hoodie sweatshirts and huge sweatpants. She's hiding her body, which is never a good sign. She doesn't have an eating disorder, but she's not taking care of what she eats anymore. It's junk 24/7 and she buys it herself with her money. From the Girl that showered a couple of times every day, she's now needing to be shoved into the shower when she begins to reek. None of these are good signs. They're NORMAL signs, very very normal, but they tell me that adolescence has caught up with her and she's not feeling so great about herself anymore.

We're working on all these issues in therapy and I think it will resolve itself pretty quickly, but I'm her to say it's painful to watch your confident Girl start to lose that confidence. It's hard to watch her struggle with friends and boyfriends and all the drama that goes on every freaking day in high school.

I think back to my days in high school and we are quite dissimilar. I never had huge groups of friends to hang out with like she does. I had a few tight friends, and a boyfriend that I was way overinvolved with. I remember losing my confidence in 11th grade and feeling like a total loser that whole year. I remember feeling weird because my hair wasn't stick straight like all the other popular girls, and I never had the same kind of clothing that they did. I've always been rebellious, whereas the Girl has always been pretty much of a conformist.

Regardless of our differences, she's not happy right now. She's not miserable either. She is just trying to find her way, to decide who she is, and what she's about. She's finding it hard, and I'm finding it harder because I can't help her. She has to do this on her own. And that sucks.

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Blogger MizMell said...

I have 2 girls--now in in their twenties-- and recognize the symptoms mentioned in your post.
When a girl goes from being meticulous to having to be reminded to shower, there may be a bit more going on than we would like to acknowledge.
I'm a firm believer in the power of motherly love. Hang in there.

3/2/08 9:16 AM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Ophelia was a rather scary book when I read it. I remember writing a paper on it for a class and reminding myself that this author was highlighting the worst because that's what sold books. I wish you luck on the home front; your own Ophelia is in good hands.

3/2/08 9:24 AM  
Blogger Artful Kisser said...

It's interesting to read your words about your teenage daughter, because whilst I can identify with what she's going through as a teenager, I haven't really thought about my daughter going through it when she reaches that age. Probably a case of head in the sand! I agree with mizmell. I don't know what I would have done without my mum and I only hope her ways shine through in me when we get there. Best wishes to you both.

3/2/08 5:08 PM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

I don't remember ever shunning showers until after I had children and those days where a shower just did not fit into my baby nursing on demand, my wondefully energetic toddler and a trip to grocery store cuz we were outta diapers or something indispensible. My boys both did shower aversion n junior high.

BPB has reverted back to it in his past year of declaring hid indenpendence.

Good Luck. I think it does hurt us more in some ways to watch them hurt.

3/2/08 8:48 PM  
Blogger BrineS said...

G' Day! Greetings from The Land Down Under! I stopped by your blog today to say "thanks for participating in my Bloggy Giveaway! I will post the winner tomorrow.

3/2/08 11:53 PM  
Anonymous supertiff said...

maybe she will cheer up a bit if you give her a fake prada bag? because you won: so you'll have one shortly. stop by soon for the details!

4/2/08 4:57 AM  
Blogger Ranchmom said...

E. had a really really hard time last year. I was worried about her developing depression. Many nights (most nights) she'd come home from school, not want to eat supper, and go right to her room and hibernate all night. Her dad spent time just hanging out with her in her room and that seemed to help. He had similar feelings at that age and with his history of depression, we wanted to be on top of things with her if it did develop. Summer came and she said good-bye to the class where 3 girls in particular had contributed to making things unpleasant for her and she started high school and has found a place among the Band Geeks and has some really nice friends. She seems a lot more able to handle the jerks, and the black t-shirts and black hoodies are (mostly) put away. She even wears...pink sometimes. Yes.

(((hugs))) to the girl,


8/2/08 10:30 AM  

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