"You can get through this," they say.
"Don't take it personally," they say.
I know. I will. But I am. I am taking it personally. Because in no other time of my life have I ever deliberately sought attention from people who are consciously, and sometimes, vehemently pushing me away. If a person doesn't like me, I move on.
Living with two teenagers is like living with two of your closest friends who no longer adore you as much as you adore them. I mean, it's happened before where I have followed a friend around and asked to hang out and get together repeatedly, only to be met with "Sure,sure! Let's do that," and then...nothing. I don't ALWAYS get the hint quickly enough, and have occasionally dangled at the end of a string..wondering. Eventually, the hint takes hold and that friend fades into a memory.
I can't and won't do that with my kids. OBVIOUSLY. But man...
I don't care that it's normal. I don't care that I did this to my own parents. I don't care that they will grow out of it. I don't care that this is their first time being teenagers and first step into adulthood.
Right here, right now, TODAY, is what we have. The future? Who knows what it holds? Who knows if it exists? At this moment in time, my feelings are hurting and it sucks. All I wanted was something as simple as the happy presence of our family of five to carry out a tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree. Instead of sucking it up and tolerating it for 45 minutes, one teen stomped through the mud and shot daggers at my head and the other teen carried his winter coat instead of wearing it, occasionally muttering about how "all of the trees are FINE. Why do we have to do this??"
Thank God Patrick is so kind. I didn't engage any of their retorts and Pat made sure to tell me how much it means to him that I insist on traditions. Corinne, at 10, still loves the tree farm, and enjoyed all of the stories I was sharing about tree farm trips of years gone by. She distracted me from melancholy and deserved a happy mom, so I tried to shake off the feelings of inadequacy for her sake. But there were moments when I was sitting alone on the bench, waiting for our tree to be shaken and wrapped up, that I couldn't choke back the tears. Moments where I watched a toddler boy skipping along with his parents, dropping more cookie crumbs than he was eating, and the memories were so poignant and fresh...I was grateful for my sunglasses. I am grateful for the memories I have of my own toddlers and children skipping happily alongside me, but so envious of that connection and assurance that my children love me.
|Xmas tree farm 2015. Alternate title: "Smile, guys. PRETEND you're having fun."|
I consider myself to be a fairly kind and generous parent. Generous with my time, our resources, and patience. I don't ask for an overabundance from these kids, but I do expect a few things, without fail.
Respect. For me. For Patrick. For our family values and traditions.
Kindness. Tone of voice is a big one, especially with teenage boys. Just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I don't get my feelings hurt. I will NOT be spoken to with hatred or disgust. The words "I hate you" have not been uttered in my house. Lord help the child of mine who ever considers it. Their fate will not be pretty.
Accountability. Be where you say and do what you promised. I am grateful that this isn't a huge issue with my kids. They generally do what is required and have yet to truly be anywhere that they weren't supposed to be. (that I know of. The trust is not yet broken.)
My God, I have GOOD KIDS. I really do. I know that there are kids out in the world who push dangerous limits and make unquestionably BAD choices. In the grand scheme of things, I have little to complain about. I should grow a thicker skin, I guess? It's just...
I only have 14 months left with my oldest before he is officially an adult. Have I mentioned he's thinking about joining the military? So this means that I have one more Christmas with him as my child. One more birthday. One more Summer. One more first day of school. And then it's over...
16 years ago, it seemed like 18 years was a long time...