Last week, my eldest daughter texted me asking for a ride home from the bus stop. The bus stop is half a block. Was someone bullying her? Was she hurt? I asked for an explanation and the only response I received was a plea for my arrival. I decided to walk, just in case there was a bully. I wanted to make my presence known if I needed to get in somebody’s face, of course, only if necessary. Much to my surprise and relief, she was just crying. Then, she walked right past me, no acknowledgement whatsoever.
“Hey, mom’s here” I say as I trail her down the sidewalk. “Just like you asked. What’s wrong?”
“Just never mind”.
Okay. So I am begged to come literally 200 yards meet the bus and I’m greeted with a “Never Mind” and tears. What is a mother supposed to do with that? Probably not what I did. I chose the old follow and nag tactic. It went something like this:
“Why did you ask me to come down here and pick you up if you’re not going to tell me what’s wrong? I’m your mother. You should want to talk to me. Why don’t you talk to me? You know, I would give anything to be able to talk to MY mother. One day, you’re going to want to talk to me and you know what? I won’t be here because I’ll be DEAD. That’s right. DEAD. And you’ll be crying I want to talk to my mother but it will be too late, because I’m DEAD! Really? You’re ignoring me? I can’t believe this. You better stop walking right now and turn around and answer me, young lady. Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong with you?”
Then, I closed my eyes and opened my arms, expecting a crying teenager to run into them for comfort. Arms still extended, I opened one eye and then the other. To my dismay, there stood a teenage girl staring at me and trying her best to wish that we had already arrived at my DEAD scenario.
Apparently, motherhood has different stages. I laugh because I know this. I cry because I swore I would never allow my children to think of me as I did of my mom when I was a teen. Was mom on my top 10 list of favorite people? Not even in the ballpark. Did I love her? Yes, well. Yes.
And so it goes. I must learn patience and the art of teenage space. Eventually, she did come around and I think I gave her some pretty good advice. Will she follow it? Probably not, but that’s okay. I realize that part of growing up is actually giving them to space to do so, knowing when to offer up those arms to hug them and knowing when to just trail behind and keep my mouth shut. I’m going to try it…someday.