Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Older I Get, the Smarter My Mom Is

I don't know about you guys, but I was a very, very rebellious teenager. My life was in upheaval - my parent's divorced WAY back in the day (think '70s), my older brother was in trouble with the law (his first known offense was shooting out the local juvenile court judge's living room window), and had taught me how to smoke pot at age twelve, and my mom was working two jobs to keep us afloat.

I wasn't appreciative.

My take on it was that she was never home. I was going through my Jr. High and Sr. High school years essentially sans parenting. Not good. Because I didn't get the attention I craved from my exhausted mother, I decided to take what I could get (to borrow from Bachman Turner Overdrive). I went the sex, drugs and rock n' roll route. I had a car by the time I was seventeen, and became my party unit's designated driver. Now, back then, the designated driver didn't stay sober. The only requirement was that you had a car and it had gas.

It is truly a miracle that no one was killed by me during this time period. I am not proud of it, but there it is.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, my mom had no idea what I was doing. I was a fantastic liar. I called myself in sick at school, showed up home when I needed to, somehow managed to get B's in most of my classes, and generally stayed under mom's radar for several years.

When I started inevitably slipping up and she would question me, I would turn it back on her. I knew how to push all her buttons, how to make her feel horrible for how I was...if I were my own mother, I would have thrown me out of the house. She didn't. That poor woman. She had nothing in her Depression era, Catholic upbringing to prepare her for me.

I won't go into the excruciating details. They aren't the point right now. The point I want to make is that, as I got older, as I "settled down", life wasn't all black and white like I thought. Mom wasn't to blame for all the evils on the earth, or even in my life. She was just the only adult who stuck around, and for that, she got all the anger and pain and hurt "due" everyone else in my life. She absolutely didn't deserve it.

She was doing her best to hold herself and our horribly broken lives together. She didn't have the tools or the support to do it in a fabulous and textbook way. But she tried so hard, and I hurt her so much. I think this is probably the biggest regret I have in my life. That poor little woman, whose whole life had fallen apart, was working her heart out to keep me alive, and all I did was hurt her.

I understand where I was coming from, and again, that's not for this post - it's also no excuse. The point of this is just to share that maybe you've felt the wrath of your ungrateful, self-centered, clueless child. I just want to tell you, please try not to take it personally. Your baby is in there somewhere - and I think that lots of that anger that you get really has nothing to do with you, specifically. I think that your child just wants to be held, to be loved, to be understood - 'cause they don't understand themselves...they probably don't know why they're so angry, either.

Do what you have to do to keep yourself and your family safe. If your angry child needs a time out (like time in respite care or a boot camp!), don't hesitate. Just let them know that you really do love them, and want to make it work. Bottom line.

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8 ESV

1 comment:

  1. wow! I could relate to this so very well - with me and my mother, and Kent and I..........thank you for another moving post.........you should have a column - I guess that's what you have in this new technological age! You rock!