It’s taken me awhile to write this post. I suppose that’s because even when times get bumpy or tough, I’ve typically been able to find a bright spot or at least something to laugh about. This summer it has been a bit tougher to find those things.
Being a parent of a teenager can be tough. Being a parent of several teenagers at once may be even tougher. Being the bonus parent to a number of teenagers – well, where do I even start?! All of the literature I read on blended families said that divorce statistics are higher when children are involved and highest when teenage daughters are involved. I read those things and thought, “You have got to be kidding me?! Julia has always been my biggest fan. The glue. The one who tied the families together.” Then she turned 18 and somehow it all changed.
For the first time in the three years that we have been together, she showed defiance. All of a sudden, we got the teenage equivalent of “You’re not the boss of me.” On more than one occasion she would tell us she should not have any curfew because, “I am 18 and I no longer have to answer to anyone. I am an adult and I set my own rules.” There were also a number of “Mom lets me do anything I want” arguments. I just wasn’t raised that way. I think even if I visited my parents’ house now, at the age of 46, I would be subject to their house rules. And as I pointed out to Julia, being an adult does not actually mean you have no responsibility. I often countered her, “I’m 18 and can come and go as I please” with “Your dad’s 44 and he can’t come and go as he pleases.”
The gist of the story is that things have been strained at best and painful in the worst moments. Somehow, perhaps because we were so close, Julia has found a way to push all of my buttons and chooses to do so regularly.
So, this has been a rough few weeks and we have six more before she goes away to college. I guess if I were to find a silver lining it is that I am no longer dreading her departure. I used to be fearful that her leaving would be rough on our family dynamics and maybe even our marriage. Now I think that is our best hope. I suppose the other thought that I cling to is that daughters and moms tend to butt heads. So, in a way, maybe her new attitude toward me is a sign that I really have crossed over from family friend to one in a mom role. It’s not much, but for now it will have to do. Think good thoughts for us as we ride out the rest of the summer. Let’s hope that whatever rift now exists can be healed with a bit of time and distance.