Today, my mom is my best friend; however, I am ashamed to admit that when I was 14 or 15, I hated her very existence.

You know why?

She was MEAN. She made me do dishes ALL THE TIME. She made me babysit and help out around the house. She NEVER let me have ANY FUN.

So I made a solomn vow to myself that when I became a mom, I would NEVER be so hard on my teenagers. I would be their friend. Yes, they would have chores, but I would help them out from time to time; I would let them play first if the situation warranted. I would not make them do ALL THE WORK.

I have kept that promise very well, because I still remember my intense resentment over all things chore related. And this week, I discovered something:

My mom was not mean. She did not make me do dishes all the time. I did babysit and help out around the house, but that was only a half of a percent compared to all of the babysitting and helping out around the house that Mom did. She did let me have fun. She was not against my having a life!

On Tuesday, Kimmie hurled accusations and "I hate you"s in much the same way that I remember hurling words at my mom, and I went to bed that night, devastated. I even called my mom for some encouragement, but she sighed and said, "You've got several more years of it left, and just wait until Liberty and the baby are that age." The gift of exhortation belongs to my mother, yes it does.

I tossed and turned, evaluating all of my actions over the past two years, wondering if I had indeed turned into my mother with all of her bothersome chores and unsympathetic heart. When Jeremy arrived home at 2:30 in the morning, we discussed the entire situation, and he told me very plainly that I had done the right things all this time. Then he pulled the door trick, which made me smile and helped me sleep.

Over the past few days, I have been pondering still, turning over Kimmie's words versus my actions.

> Kimmie had said, "You make me do dishes ALL THE TIME!" The dishes are her one assigned chore in the house. (She is also required to keep her room and bathroom clean, but that is not considered a family chore; that is just part of life.) Ironically, I had done the dishes for her on three different days that week because I knew that she had other things going on.

>Kimmie had said, "You make me babysit Liberty." Well, yes, she does babysit Liberty from time to time. She babysat three weeks ago when Jeremy and I had some major errands to run in Des Moines that we knew would take several hours. We gave Kimmie the option of going with us, which meant that Liberty would also go with us, and Kimmie made a face to inform us that she would be bored beyond tears if we dragged her along. She chose to stay home with Liberty, and she was excited about it at the time. She also babysat this past Saturday when the van was being worked on, and I had to sit at the dealership for two and a half hours reading a newspaper and watching customers. Boy, she missed out on some fun, there, let me tell you! I had a yawningly good time!

>Kimmie had said, "You never let me have any fun." That point was illustrated again last night. Kimmie had spent the evening out. She returned home around 8:00 PM. At 9:00, she asked if she could call Stephanie, and I said yes. Then she started telling me about her day and about all of the homework that she had and about the two quizzes tomorrow that she had not yet studied for. As I listened, it dawned on me that she planned to spend her evening on the phone instead of studying for the quizzes. When I questioned her, she informed me that the quizzes didn't really matter. It was much more important for her to have her phone conversation. When asked if the conversation had a certain purpose to it, the answer was, "No, but if I don't call Stephanie tonight, then I won't be able to talk with her for an entire week!" I pointed out that she would have plenty of time to talk all day Sunday (especially since we have free weekend minutes), but that unsympathetic answer earned me the silent treatment for the rest of the night.

I closed my bedroom door last night, smiling to myself. I finally realized what my mom had probably been pointing out to me throughout most of my teenaged years. She loved me. She only wanted what was best for me. She enjoyed giving me good things, fun things, but she also knew that I needed to learn to be responsible and hard-working. She did not try to kill my fun, just like I do not try to kill Kimmie's fun. She did not make me constantly work, just like I do not make Kimmie constantly work.

I also realized something else. No matter what I do, Kimmie is probably not going to change her opinion of me (at least not until she has a smart-alecky daughter of her own). But her heart is not dependent on my actions; my actions do not determine her attitude. I have been beating myself up, trying to figure out what I am doing wrong to create such a horrid response in my daughter, and I finally know that I am not creating that response. I do answer to God for my own attitudes and actions, but I do not have to blame myself for Kimmie's attitudes and actions!

Maybe you are not feeling it, but this knowledge is freedom to me. Writing this post has helped me to sort out all of the feelings and thoughts that have been floating around my head for the past few days, and now I'm ready to take a deep breath and face the world again.

I love my daughter. I have not done wrong. Bring it on!

PS> Mom, if you're reading this, I'm sorry for years 12 - 18. I love you! :-)
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6 Responses
  1. Linda Says:

    This is just one of the sweetest, most vulnerable posts I've read in a long time. Bless your heart. It is tough, but just like you, she will come around again. I'm already starting to see my college daughter come around in that emotional sense. Motherhood is really, really tough. You sound like a mature, wonderful mom--not hard-nosed or unpliable, just structured and fair--and courageous. I'm with Jeremy and God. And the door trick got my heart because that's the kind of thing my husband does, too!

  2. Melissa Says:

    haha...well as I will tell you know. Im only 23 and it took me to this age to realize how much of a pain I am. Its hard. Tough love but I know for a fact that she will end up thanking you. It might be in ten years but It will come. I know she will probably say some harsh words. Its for the best and you will thank me later. Thats a funny statement to me now. Teenagers live in the now and always get what they want and if they dont its the end of the world. Im still amazed at what i thought was so important then that is so small now. I think at this age everyone is trying to be the cool one...and if your not...your dust. oh...this brings back so many keep on tackling these battles( IM sure there will be plenty more to come) will change..and just think you have two more to

  3. DeAnn Says:

    Isn't it amazing how God uses our children to teach us?!
    I know so often Ian does things that I don't like and just when I'm getting frustrated God will nudge my memory and I can see myself as a little girl behaving in much the same way as my son is behaving.
    Sometimes it makes me laugh and sometimes it just sheds so much understanding on the whole situation. Hang in there with Kimmie. I remember being a teen. It was one great big hormonal roller coaster. One minute I loved everyone and everything and the next I hate everything. My dad still teases me about my "mantra" from my teen years, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" We can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn't funny then!

  4. debbie f. Says:

    You know, I don't think I ever said "I hate you" to either of my parents. I just quietly thought, "They hate me." Weird, huh? Now that I'm almost 30 years old I realize how wrong it was to ever think that. I say it's just a matter of time before one day she comes and thanks you for the discipline. Just keep making sure she knows how deep your love is for her. =)

  5. You are doing a GREAT job. Sometimes you just have step back to see it. Don't be discouraged! One day, your daughter (s) will have the same revelation! Keep the faith.

  6. Greg Says:

    I saw your post about your daughter. I am a New York Times bestselling author working on a new book about mother-daughter relationships and thought you might want to contribute. Please visit my page for details about submitting stories for Mom’s Little Angel.

    Gregory E. Lang
    Author, Daddy’s Little Girl

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