Thursday, September 20, 2012

Because Adolescent Bad Hair Can Make You a Better Mom

That last post I wrote, the one aimed at my teenage self, it sort of undid me. I wasn't expecting it. Emotions and nostalgia, they are fluid and unpredictable and that's probably why I work a bit too hard sometimes keeping them at bay.

But that's getting tougher. I have a daughter and despite my best efforts, she will not stop growing up. 

She started middle school this year and though she's still 18 months from being a bona fide teenager, the winds of adolescent change, they are a-blowin'. So far it's all {mostly} good. Though we never really know which mood the wind is going to blow into our midst on any given day, God has been generous with the parental grace. We've sort of been gearing up for this. 

I think the letter to my teenage self struck an extra-sensitive chord because parenting an adolescent daughter can't help but usher in a lot of my own teenage memories and their accompanying emotions. I submitted this comment earlier today {in response to the release of these 2 beautiful books}:

Mothering a middle-schooler feels like my own heart is walking around in fitted Aeropostale t-shirts and crying over bad hair. It’s weird is what it is. Probably because I still kind of feel like a teenager myself on the inside. Yet I’m raising one at the same time. 

It's like an out of body experience or Freaky Friday or something.

Maybe this sense of not feeling that removed from teenage-dom makes me immature. Or maybe it makes me normal. I have no idea. Regardless, I've decided it's a good thing. I'm "owning it," as they say. 

I don't ever want to be so far removed from her that I can't remember or relate. When she's crying over her long, blonde hair because it's too thick or too wavy or too whatever, I want to tell her she's insane, that I would have killed for her hair. 

But I don't. I tell her it's beautiful and that I'm sorry she doesn't love it and then I offer to help her fix it. And I can only do that because I remember how real all of those feelings of inadequacy were. At 39, I can see how ridiculous the hair-loathing is but that has only come with the perspective. Perspective that has been years in the making and seriously hard-wrought.

So many of my shortcomings as a mother have been because I've simply failed to remember. 

My default is to teach and control and "set straight." But those responses only breed contempt and isolation and resentment. 

Grace is showing me that understanding and remembrance make a better way. 

Keep reminding me.


  1. "Understanding and remembrance make a better way." Yes, grace, indeed! God, please give us huge doses for all those times when we don't know what the "the wind is going to blow into our midst on any given day."

    They call it "life."


  2. would it surprise you that when i was little i wanted hair just like YOURS?!?!? i always loved your beautiful, curly hair! Now that I'm older, I realize it was probably a pain though! lol :)


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