Like me

She sits on the couch after school, feet tucked under her, staring intently at the book on her lap.  It's one of the many American Girl books that rest in teetering stacks on her bedside table.

I tell her it's time for snack and she ignores me. I say it again, this time touching her shoulder and she startles, blinking at me like I just appeared in this room we've been sharing for half an hour.

"Sorry Mom," she says, turning back to her book, "I just really need to finish this chapter."

I smile inwardly. Outwardly, too.

You love to read. I think to myself with satisfaction and pride.

We will share this love of books. We will pass books back and forth and reminisce about favorite characters and grieve together over especially sad plot points. We will argue about writers and eagerly await new publications and squeal like Taylor Swift fans if we ever meet a favorite author.

Be like me.


She can't find something she NEEDS.

(She often can't find something she "needs".)

It's imperative she finds it, the end of the world if it's gone forever, she can't possibly do anything else until it's back in her hands.

I encourage deep breaths, reminding her that being upset makes finding things more difficult.

When we find it, someplace she didn't remember ever putting it, I sigh with relief but we aren't done.

Now she's down on herself.

"I'm so stupid. A stupid, stupid girl. A stupid girl who always loses things. No one likes me because I'm so stupid...."

It pours out of her in a torrent.

As it washes over me, I struggle to breathe against its powerful, deeply familiar current.

"Z!" I finally break in, "Z, don't talk to yourself like that. Words are powerful and I don't want you to talk about yourself that way. Let's find another way to let out angry, yucky feelings."

Don't be like me.  Please, not in this way.



Cortney said...

Oh how I can relate. My oldest and I are so much alike, and there is so much friction between us these days. Its painful to watch those things you've worked so hard on for years blossom up in your child. :(

Hillary said...

Oh these posts always hit me. I feel this way with R very often. I was talking with someone the other day: I feel sometimes like he is my reminder to be grateful for all the people who helped me, to appreciate the ways I've grown, to recognize the things I still need to work on and to pass on all that help and love.

Pamela Hunt Cloyd said...

Oh yes - I can relate. Don't beat yourself up. Some of it is genetic. It just happens. The other way to look at it is karma. She has the karma you haven't burned off yet - BUT because she is your daughter you get to help her burn it off and you burn your own off as well. What you help her heal is what you will heal in yourself.

k said...

Beautifully written.

So hard on the heart, this parenting gig. Goodness.

grammalouie said...

Yes, K, so hard on the heart, but ultimately so rewarding. Parenting has made me happier than anything else I have done in my life.

Shannon said...

My son says the exact same thing about himself. It is heartbreaking and frightening and hard to watch. I so relate to this post! Now, knowing he is on a path that is going to throw some big obstacles his way I feel that my own pain can finally be put to good use,being a Mom who truly "gets it" because I've been there and can feel the intensity and know he can't help it, which allows me to be more patient than I might otherwise have been if I thought he was just being "difficult" as I was told all my childhood. Z's lucky to have a mom who can understand - just hold on to that... it does make it a feel tiny bit better somehow!

Alice said...

i often feel like i don't have any relevant comments here, seeing as i don't have kids, but i do so love reading your posts. they are beautifully written.

Emily said...

Oh I could have written this same post. I've recently been so pleased to have to tell my oldest to turn out his light at night as he begs "one more chapter". A love of reading is one of my greatest hopes for my children.

But it is so hard when they struggle with something that you, yourself have struggled with. (I fear middle school for this reason). For what it's worth, I think you're handling it well. Definitely not clueless. :)

Shannon Baker said...

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