Recently I saw a meme posted on Facebook by a lovely woman named Amy Ahlers. (Seriously, if you don't know her you should totally check her out here). I have known her for years and she is truly one of the most loving women I know.
She posted this image when I really needed to hear what it was saying.
That last part is what REALLY resonated with me because lately I have been questioning whether or not I am a good mom. There have have been some pretty big changes in my home lately and I have been struggling.
Raising a Teenage Girl is HARD…
Raising a teenage daughter is so different than raising my boys was. There have been struggles and challenges that I never expected. Things that I simply wasn't prepared for.
To be perfectly honest, I feel completely ill equipped to raise a teenage girl. Growing up I was a tom boy and was never really a ‘girly' girl. I don't always do well with overly emotional responses. Really didn't even like boys until I got into high school. (I saw them as friends not ‘boyfriend' material).
Sometimes I worry that I don't always know how to relate to my daughter at this age. I don't always feel like I am equipped to give her good advice. I struggle to relate to her at times and because of that we have been arguing more lately. Which is yet another reason for me to feel like I am not a good mom.
I mean, shouldn't I just KNOW how to do this?
Recently she decided that she wanted to go from our week on week off schedule to living mostly with her dad. After a lot of discussion we agreed to make the change. This has been REALLY hard for me. Even though she feels that this is better for her right now, I don't fully agree.
However, I am willing to try this because more than anything I want her to be ok. I know that there are likely many different reasons for her wanting this change. Her father is a dynamically different parent than I am. I am more over protective and strict in many ways than he is. He doesn't ‘nag' her about her grades and getting her schoolwork done like I do – and other various things she listed off.
If I am being honest, I think that the core reason though is that she has craved a better relationship with her father. Her whole life she has been desperate for it and now he is able to provide that. So she wants as much of that as possible.
Trying not to take it personally…
When my daughter told me she wanted to live mostly at her dad's house I took it very hard. I took it personally. I was a bad mom. That had to be the reason, because if I was a good mom she wouldn't want to leave.
Beating myself up for days, running the emotional scale from devastated to hurt to angry with everything in between. I was mad at myself…upset with myself…feeling like I wasn't a good mom.
After a little bit of time I came to the realization that I didn't do anything wrong specifically. I was still being the parent I had always been but she was developing into her own person. She and I have to figure out how our relationship is going to change – because she is growing up.
I had to realize that none of this was personal. She wasn't punishing me. I wasn't a bad mom. We just were struggling. I needed to give myself some grace. Which brings me back to the meme…
One of the outcomes of her living mostly with her dad is that now he becomes the primary care giver. So after 13 years of doing all the scheduling, being the primary source of transportation and staying on top of her grades – I now pass the baton to him. All those responsibilities now fall on him to manage.
This means that my life is a lot different than it has been for the last 13 years. All this time I have scheduled my life around my children. Since my boys are technically adults now, for the past 3 years it has been mostly around her. Now, without her here as much, I am able to do the things I may have been neglecting.
It is ok to do things for ourselves…
Remembering that it is ok to do things for ourselves – it is hard sometimes. Sometimes that means setting new boundaries and saying ‘no' when you used to just say yes. It can be hard and uncomfortable sometimes. For 13 years I have been the ‘do it all' parent. I had to tell myself that it was ok for me now plan my life around NOT being that parent anymore.
It is ok for me to expect her dad and step-mother to now step into that role because that is what the primary care giver does. That is the role they have taken on and expecting them to do that is not mean or petty – that is just the reality of that role.
Now I am learning how to live in this new reality where my daughter isn't a primary part of it. I am working on remembering how to do things for myself that I need to. Things that help me be ok – even though nothing about this feels ok right now.
As moms we often struggle to do things that we need to do – or WANT to do for ourselves. We worry how it will look to others, or if it is the right decision for our family – even if it right for US. How often have to done something for yourself and then felt guilty afterward? Did you feel like you weren't being a good mom?
It is ok for us to do the things we need to do for our well being. You are still a good mother if you find fulfillment outside of being a mom. Doing things that make you happy without your kids doesn't make you a bad mom.
Want to go back to work? – Do it if you are able to.
Want to start painting? – Girl PAINT!
Do you need to take medication to help with depression? – Please DEFINITELY talk to your doctor and do that if you need to. There is NO reason to feel bad about that!
You were a person before you had children and it is ok to be something more than mom. It is ok to do what you need to do to be ok. You will still be a good mom even if you admit that you aren't actually Wonder Woman and need some help.
Ultimately my daughter wanted this change because she felt she needed this for her to be ok – and that is important.
Finding and doing the things I need to do to be ok with this change is important too.