Walking a Tightrope

The other day, when we were in Tahoe, Maya was trying to pick out a t-shirt as a souvenier, and this t-shirt had to be SPECIAL, because she was getting one for herself, and a matching one for her BFF, Jackie. I noticed that the one she had picked was an adult size (they didn’t have any kids shirts), and it looked kind of long…a huge NO in the book of Maya. So, I pointed it out to her, and she got mad. And snippy. And rude. Which escalated into a fight, in which we told her that she has every right to feel picked-on and angry, but she does not have the right to be rude and snippy to her parents.

Fast forward two days. She’s trying to decide between beginning band or another elective (there are only two choices in 6th grade) for middle school, and I’m afraid to open my mouth with an opinion. Of course, now she REALLY wants my opinion, and a little guidence from her mama. So, I finally told her what I thought, which was that band is available every year, whereas this other elective is a kind of survey class of electives, and is only available to 6th graders, so it might be more fun, and she can take band next year. She was thankful for that opinion, and signed up for the survey class.

Does anyone else feel like you’re constantly walking this tightrope? Wondering when your opinion will be welcome, and when it will be seen as criticism? When your child needs you to BACK OFF, and let them make their own decisions, and when they need you there, to be a mama and guide them through? And I wonder, do mothers of boys have these same issues? Early seperation, perhaps? Or Dads? Or is it just the mother/daughter relationship that manifests itself this way?

The thing is, I remember all too well being in her shoes. I grew up without a father, so I don’t know how that would have been similar or different, but I do remember, painfully, the pre-teen years of insane hormones, and thinking every comment my mother made was one of criticism, that she thought I was ugly, stupid, annoying, whatever (mostly because I thought these things about myself, and I was projecting my frustrations). Talking to her years later, she said these times seemed to come upon us the most in the few days before she started her period – so I’m sure the estrogen in the house was way out of whack – and that may well be happening here as well.

Remembering those times, the self doubt, the frustration, and the assurance that I was a crappy person in my mother’s eyes – it gives me perspective into what she’s going through…or at least, what I THINK she’s going through. I don’t want to project my past onto her, to suggest feelings that she may not be having, and somehow make it worse.

I’m telling you, being a mother? You need a safety net AND a helmet.


(This song makes me think of that time…of the self doubts and feelings that went with them..Pink, Don’t Let Me Get Me)

12 thoughts on “Walking a Tightrope

  1. Oh dear, it’s the time when they want to assert their independence (which makes them act like poop – snippy and rude) and still want you there for support.

    I liked that you waited to see if she wanted your opinion about the classes before saying anything.

    Whoever thinks parenting is easy is a moron.

  2. This is my life on a daily basis. I’m still waiting for a martini. I would offer some advice, but I don’t know what the hell I’m doing….

  3. Your post reminds me of how it was, or still is with my mother. Love the woman to death but it’s been such a rocky road, especially, during my teenage years. It did get a whole lot better once I had Connor because I feared retribution, and it was only then that I knew how it felt to be someone’s mother.

    I think that it’s a mother/daughter thing because I’ve seen it with others and my relationship with my father was so much different even though he could be a real gestapo. Hopefully, you’ll blink and this phase will pass.

  4. We go through stages like this. We went through a big one when Autumn was Maya’s age. And yes, every day when I’d come home, I’d have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomache because I never knew if she was going to have her claws out or not. These days she’s been great. So of course, I’m waiting for the next surge of independence.

  5. I never had these problems with your brother, and what I observed growing up was that Forrest didn’t have them with either parent.

    And, in my professional life, the mother-daughter thing is what comes up. Girls and boys both rebel against Dad if he is too controlling, but they don’t get these emotional flares.

  6. Yeap, and it does get worst. That is the glass half empty response.
    The glass half full response. That is the way it is for everyone.

  7. My son is 14 1/2 and going into 9th grade. When he’s in a good mood, he is great to be around. When he is in a bad mood, watch out. I use to be a lot more sensitive about all this and take it personally. 6th grade was the worse. Now while I don’t tolerate disrespect I do give him space and try not to let his actions bother me as much as they use to.

  8. It happens in our household daily…Spencer is definitely going thru hormonal shifts, etc etc..and so am I…argh. Patience, understanding, and love will get us through. Lots and lots of it all.

    Sometimes he’s my little boy again, needing Mom’s help. Two seconds later, he’s a man, independent and all that.

    Where do I pick up the safety net and helmet?

  9. I’m not qualified to post a comment on raising kids, because I never had one. I knew how bad a kid I was and didn’t want to reproduce for fear of “Reaping what I had sowed”.
    Also as I get older, I’m glad I didn’t because of how screwed up the world is, and how the government thinks they need to raise your kid for you.

    I love Pink!(Alecia Beth Moore)…..OK….take away my “Man Card”!!!!!!!
    Thanks for posting that song I have her “M!ssundaztood” CD. I love every friggin song on that albumn. I just love her voice!

    I’m getting my lazy arse up to hunt for that CD right now!


    Oh, and this made me think of Maya…..only because of her name! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.I.A.

    Thought you might find it an interesting read?

  10. Is it bad that I feel this way with my husband?
    I suppose that’s a bit of a wake up call that I’ve been trying to act a mother to him.


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