I’m going out on a limb here and writing something hard and personal. For those us with children, we have either had a ten-year-old or will have a ten-year-old at some point (it’s science) and now is my some point. Namely: my breaking point.
When my oldest daughter was two or three, it seemed like everyone had the same advice to give “Oh she’s cute now, just wait until she’s a teenager.”
I hated that for a few reasons. One, I was a teenage girl once and hated the “teenage girl’ stigma. It seems sexist and condescending, like teenage boys don’t have any issues to deal with (but I’m not going to go there right now).
But the main reason it bothered me was because it was so ominous, this black cloud of parenthood waiting a few years before pouring out hormones and emotion. I hated the thought of anyone ruining my beautiful, peaceful relationship with my firstborn with these threats of torture for the future.
And now, I’m here to tell ya, the day has come, my friend.
Anne Lamott says this is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. I sat in Ovens Auditorium and heard her speak last time she came through Charlotte and this thought seemed to reverberate within me although, tbh, I’m finding myself having a hard time putting it into practice.
Where I’m struggling with my ten-year-old (and I hate to tell you, mamas and papas, but you’ll likely get there, too) is in the attitude. It comes out of nowhere, over nothing and suddenly everyone is standing in the kitchen before school yelling at each other over a bagel.
My daughter gets on to me because I so often preach peacefulness and all too often fall through the cracks. The cracks are the eye rolls, the tone (dear God, the tone), and the indignation. I fall through the cracks when I myself am feeling vulnerable and in a rush. I fall through the cracks when I’m hoping for things to go smoothly but instead we hit a patch of black ice and start spinning out of control.
Connect with your kid
The thought of the “Me, too” makes a difference here because it can be applied in so many instances, allowing for connection instead of isolation which is, I’m assuming, what we all want. It comes with shelving your own emotions (*ahem*, Liz) and choosing to help your child through this struggle and thus helping your entire family.
“You’re struggling with your sibling right now? Me, too. Totally get it. I was once in your shoes.”
“You’re feeling pressure at school to get all your work done? Me, too. I feel that in my job.”
Even writing that out feels much better than the power struggle that typically ensues instead. It’s the difference between the power-over mentality– which typically only leads to more dead ends- or the power-with, where everyone can have a voice and be empowered.
Of course our children need to know to respect others and to watch their tones. A recurring conversation with my daughter is that she can be unhappy and vocalize that she is unhappy, but that it’s not what she says but how she says it.
Connect with other parents
Another space the “Me, too” is beneficial is in connecting with other parents. I’ve been in a place of judgement and in a place of being judged and let me tell you: neither one feels great. I see parents fighting with their kids in Target and give myself a metaphorical pat on the back, thinking “I’ll never get that bad,” and then argue with my kid in front of some of her friends and immediately wonder what their parents would say.
I’m hoping they’d say, “Me, too.”
“Having a hard time with your daughter even though you love her more than the world? Me, too.”
“Feeling isolated because parenting is hard work and you feel like you’re doing it alone? Me, too.”
Don’t give up. We’ve got this.
Photo Credit: Pexels.com
This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.