I always remember that line “I’m your mother, not your friend”, and as my teenager grows, I continue to force myself into that role.
I poke her awake most mornings. I remind her about her homework. I hold her responsible for her chores, and help her set the limits she knows she needs.
I ask the hard questions; are you worried about anything? What do you want to be? Are you taking on too much? and push her to a concise answer… even if the answer is “I don’t know”.
I feed her, I ensure she bathes, and I keep shoes on her feet and a warm jacket on her back.
I am her mother, day in and day out, and I do these things because they keep her safe and healthy.
I actually, stupidly thought that was what I needed to do. Just be her mother. Be the safe harbour for her, be warm and loving, be strict and real.
But that ISN’T it. That’s only part of it.
Sure, my daughter needs me to be her mother, but she also needs me to be her friend. She is transition from child to adult, and I can see her PULLING at me to change our relationship. She wants to share things with me, find what we have in common. She wants to KNOW things about me, stories, and experiences I have had. She wants to be alone, so that we can build a relationship between us that ISN’T based on mothering… but based on us. Two individuals. Just us.
Its a strange balance, to be honest. Being a friend means supporting the other persons dreams, but also challenging them. It means letting your guard down, and being “real” with them. It means loving them… even through anger or frustration, and “calling them” out on things they may do that hurt you.
But in that balance, it is all actually easy. The only change that needs to happen is for me to let HER in. I already support her, and challenge her. She is her real person with me, and I love her to the ends of the earth, no matter what. The only thing that needs to be different is for me to show her MY real person, for me to share MY dreams with her, and for me to listen to those times that I may hurt her… even though I am her mother and I never want to.
Relationships and teenagers are funny things, but my hope is that by recognizing NOW that she and I can have a unique relationship, outside of our parental one, will give us the chance and time to create something stable for the future.
It does mean a lot of eating popcorn and watching Supernatural though….