Somehow my mom and I just didn’t get along when I was in high school. (Hey, it happens.) I was an overweight, overachiever who believed nothing I did was good enough. It didn’t help that my dad, aka my #1 fan, died suddenly when I was fifteen. I was my mom’s youngest child, only daughter. After she lost my dad she couldn’t give an insecure teen the support and encouragement I craved. Conversely, she expected, no hoped, I’d provide her with support and comfort. That didn’t happen.
I remember her yelling: “You’re not listening to me!”
I was listening, I just didn’t like what I heard. I didn’t agree with her and I wasn’t going to do what she said. Even if she had a good idea, I’d reject it, on principle. What principle? That it was her idea.
Our relationship turned into a quagmire of hurt feelings, misunderstandings and miscommunications. We both longed for a cease-fire, but didn’t how to call one.
When I moved across the country, distance made the heart grow fonder. And when I became a mom, my mom and I learned to appreciate each other a lot more.
Now you understand why an email from a teen with parent problems gets to me. And why I do understand.
Like this one:
Teen: I have this disorder where I feel like I’m suffocating in my own self but can’t die. My mom says she understands but I think she understands what she wants to believe and now she says she wants to send me away to foster care because she doesn’t want to deal with me anymore… what do I do??
Annie: Aside from your mom, who else have you talked to about your feelings of “suffocating in yourself?”
Teen: I have a counselor but whenever I try to talk to him it never comes out right.
Annie: How about writing out what you’d like to say… like in a letter? Take your time. Choose your words carefully. When your letter says what you want it to say, go to the counselor and hand him the letter. Sound like a plan?
Teen: yeah. Thank you, but what do I do about my mom??
Annie: Hopefully, after you talk to the counselor, he will have a conversation with your mom and help her understanding your feelings better. You need her help but she can’t give you what you need until she understands what’s going on. It’s going to take both of you working together to make this better.
Teen: Hey, so I talked to my mom myself and explained everything and it helped sorta. We still have a lot of work to do.
Annie: I’m proud of you for talking to your mom. That took courage and you did it! I’m glad it helped. Keep talking and listening to each other.
I hope you and your mom have a Happy Mothers Day.