Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pre-Teen Confessional and A Plea for Help

After my magazine debut at Studio Thirty Plus, I got a few emails (ok, just one) about how it was possible that I have a ten year old daughter. I am assuming the emailer was referring to my totally young looking appearance! Which is nice...and will be nicer once I'm 37 and someone is telling me I look to young to be ten year old Elijah's mother.

It might be hard to believe that I was doggedly attempting to do course work while half asleep and worrying about inverted nipples while you were attempting to do course work while hungover and doing shots of slippery nipples, but it's true nonetheless and here is the proof, my ten year old daughter, Rosey:

So now at almost 30 I'm starting to have doubts about if I'm up to the task of parenting an older child. I know I'm a kick ass Baby and Toddler and Kid Momma, but Pre-teen and Teen? I spent nearly a ten minutes picking out her first deodorant at the store the other day. Jeremiah was more patient with me than usual.

"I'm sure whatever you pick will be fine, Baby. Just relax."

She's started straightening her hair at her Dad's house and came home last night from the long weekend with her Dad with the remnants of eye shadow and eyeliner on. I noticed it while I was cleaning out the suitcase the girls take to their Dad's house:

"Rosey, are you wearing makeup?"

"Not currently."

"Oh, well it looks like it. Jeremiah, doesn't it look like she's wearing makeup?"

"Mom! I had a sleepover at a friends house and we did makeovers!"

"And you haven't washed your face since then?"


"Go get in the shower and use one of my face scrubbies while you're in there."

"Do I have to?"

"Of course."

She pouted for the rest of the night, but not disruptively so. I was putting all the kids to bed later and kissing them all goodnight when she started waxing the philosophical at me. I usually kiss and hug her last, because she stays up later than the other kids and is allowed to read, watch t.v. or play the DS:

"Mom, do you know that Carrie (her Dad's girlfriend) has lots of friends?"

"No, Rosey I didn't know that, I don't really know Carrie."

"Why don't you have any friends?"

"I don't have much time for friends, really. I guess. I have Mindi. And Jeremiah."

"Mindi lives far away."

"True, but I can talk to her when I need to. You kids and Jeremiah are all I need for friends."

"I don't think it's the same thing... cause friends know each other. I don't think anyone really knows you, except for Jeremiah. I don't really know what you are like for real." She's kind of rambling on and whiny here.

"Honey, I don't understand. What do you mean?"

"Never mind, Momma. Sorry, I'm not sure what I'm talking about. Good night."

What I stopped myself from saying to her immediately was, 'Nobody really knows their parents', but is that true? And is that the type of relationship I want to have with my children?

I'm not sure where Rose is coming from with her thoughts from last night. I know she's had issues with spending all of her time with me from the time she was born to the change of being with her Dad almost half the time. And she's told me before that she's had to get used to sharing me with Jeremiah because her Dad and I never had much of a relationship...but this feels different.

Do you have any opinions about the conversation I had with Rosey? Or how I should approach it with her again? Or if I should just not worry about it? Fill me up with some thoughts not my own!!!


Beta Dad said...

No advice from me. But this reminds me of a conversation I had with my parents when I was about that age. I asked my mom who her best friend was, and she essentially said that you don't need best friends when you have family. That's been kind of a comforting thought since I don't have time for my friends anymore.

Alli said...

All I can say is, keep listening to her and keep talking to her. She's a beautiful girl and I think if you trust your instincts she'll be fine. My daughter is 11 and I am figuring this out as I go! I just ask myself, "What would my mom do?" And then I do the opposite. :)

SherilinR said...

i think my kid knows me way better than i ever knew my mom. probably cuz she's a homeschooled only child, so i'm all she's got a lot of the time where i was one of 4. i think sometimes it's okay to tell our kids more about ourselves than we might normally. being honest about thoughts, stupid stuff, fears, not just parenting things can help the kid know you better. and if you show your flaws, they kind of like that. it won't make them respect you less, but rather make them feel better when they realize that you're not perfect any more than they are.

liz woodbury said...

oh boy, it gets harder and easier, sometimes simultaneously. yes, keep talking and listening, be as honest as you can, and try your hardest to make time for just the two of you. treat her like a friend. because i know we're supposed to be "their parent, and not their friend," but i refuse to believe you can't be both (well not every single minute, but most of the time).

also, i feel funny about the idea that you don't need any friends other than your family. my three family members are absolutely my three best friends, but...i DO need other people. and i think it might be good for miss r. to know that most people do need their friends. i think the importance girls tend to start placing on romance/boys/love when they're that age needs some heavy duty counter balancing.

she's clearly awesome, though, and i am continually impressed by your ability to pull off being such a good mom to SO MANY kids. and don't worry, you're still going to be a super young mom in ten years. i had zoƫ when i was 25, and i'm still considered a youngster among the other parents.

Mollie said...

I think I've been where R is (split custody, Dad's every other weekend, two separate holiday events each holiday) or seems to be... She's got a new female as a role model... Not that C is a role model, but C is an example of other female behavior that, before now, you were the primary and possibly only example. She sees C interacting with her friends? If so, she might be realizing that she doesn't see or receive all of the how-to-be-a-female instruction from you.

I can remember asking my mom why she didn't do things that my stepmother did. As I got older, I quit asking and instead just observed the differences.

I agree with Alli...trust your instincts. But keep talking to her about anything!

erin said...

Beta: Thanks for the comment dude! I try to have friends, but they seem to be way more involved in my life than I want them to be. Nosey or something? It's strange.

Alli: We'll figure these girls out yet! I think my Mom did some things right, she was just so tired and stressed out all the time. I was the oldest of five and really cherished having her to myself before all the demon children came along!

Sherilin: I wish I had more time with her, maybe that's what she's trying to tell me? I think it's a combination of everything everyone has said so far in the comments. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Lizzie Loo Whooo!: Sometimes I wish I had more time so I could really be friends with my kids, it seems like I'm just trying to provide them a healthy atmosphere and healthy food and a healthy schedule and then BAM! it's bedtime. I appreciate your friendship online and wish I could find friends that were more like 'us' around my area. It might be worth the search, I suppose. Thank you.

Mollie: I love hearing feedback from adults that grew up in a similar situation that my kids are experiencing right now. Some people think I'm crazy for sharing custody (we have a 3/4 day split) but it didn't really cross my mind to do anything differently. I hope that Rosey has many diverse women role models in her life as possible. It takes a tribe... of bitches yo!

Vic said...

I think it's really about her. She's trying to figure out who she is/who she's going to be. Up to this point she hasn't seen you as an individual. You're mom. But now you're also who she might be soon.

According to my 16 year old daughter, this reality is both comforting and horrifying, in equal measures.

I think she just wants to hear that you're happy with who you are. (Not having a wide social circle isn't bad, and it's also tied to how much focus is required to raise your family.)

The redheads are the most crotchety teenagers, by the way....: Something to look forward to.)

Nicole said...

I was in my 30s before I realized that my parents were real people. If she is already on her way to figuring that out, she's way ahead of the game.

And it is ok to be friends with your children (ALWAYS parent first!). If you don't start out that way, how do you expect to have a friendship with the when they are adults?

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

Did Carrie have 4 kids by the time she was 26(ish)? You've been kinda busy, is all.

I asked my mom the same thing when I was little, and she said my dad was her best friend, and I remember thinking "Ew, a boy?" but it was better than most of my friends whose parents weren't really friends at all. I think you'll be an even kickassier teen mom. I mean, mom of a teen. Or wait... you've been both, I guess.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

My guess would be that dad's girlfriend treated her more like a friend and less like a daughter. She probably thought that was cool, but wouldn't want to hurt you by saying so. My daughter is 26 and luckily, she was my easy child. My son...not so much. I think I did always talk to her like she was a mini-adult, I just wasn't the Barbie playing kind of mom...but, she always knew that I was the mom, not her friend. We still have that. She is my best friend and yet once in a while I put on my mom hat and tell her that I don't approve, or don't think she is being smart etc.

My best advice is to really listen to what they say, always be a little suspicious, don't worry about snooping...it is a mother's right to do so and walk that line between being a cool mom and yet one that makes the rules.

Maybe you could do some bonding over a makeup lesson. She is too young I think to wear it out of the house, but just in case she does...make it fun for her to learn how to do it the right way.

Logical Libby said...

I don't know. It could be that she's trying to figure out how adult friendships work, and if motherhood impedes them. Or it could be that she's trying to get you to put your attention elsewhere so she can start sneaking out of the house...

Angela Christensen said...

Oh, Erin, as the mother of two sons, one 21 and the other 19, all I can share with you is the advice that was given to me recently when one of them did something (else) inexplicable: From the day they are born, it's all about Letting Go. I guess we all do it differently, but I also guess we can't go too badly wrong if we do it with love. Trust yourself, and trust what you passed on to Rosie through love and genetics and overcoming obstacles and breast milk: no matter how crazy it is now, it gets better.
Love, love.

liz woodbury said...

some days i really wish you'd move to maine. for real.

erin said...

Vic: J and I live in fear of the day Olive turns 10-ish. She's so flighty and cry-y and artsy...AND she has a 'C' in spelling. IN THE 2ND GRADE! We study every night. So yes, what is it about red heads?!

Nicole: And I think Rosey would be a good friend to have for life, so I'm interested in cultivating that part of our relationship. Thanks for your comment!

Beckerino: I think Carrie might have one kid, but there are conflicting reports. She may/may not also be my ex's secretary! Blog fodder. My kids think J is way cooler than me, so they're probably really confused by our relationship.

Sue: Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Rosey has always been fairly easy, but tends to be emotional and demanding. I look forward to working towards these coming years with her and not against her.

Angie: And to think I almost gave up nursing Rose. I was a little thing and in college when she was born. Her doc told me there was no way I could handle nursing so I began to supplement over the summer. Two weeks of bottles and she wouldn't take the breast. I called the la leche league and the lady told me to throw out all the bottles and formula and sit and nurse Rose all day long until my milk comes in. She never had another bottle of formula again.

Lizzie! We're so coming up there soonish to see you and your beautiful 'homeland'. Promise.

Nicole said...

I'm wondering (and didn't read all the comments, so maybe this is a repeat query), if she's building a friendship with Dad's girlfriend that's free of the momish stuff. Maybe seeing a grown woman as a personality to get to know, coupled with her sleepover bonding and make-up session, she's wondering if, after all, you're more than just a mom.

Venom said...

My daughter is in university and just turned 18; my son is enlisting in the military and turns 21 next week.

You'd think I should have some 'amazing insight', right? Phhht.

Here's what I've learned from 21 years of parenting - it never ends.

If you feel like you mess up once in a while, keep in mind that every new day you get another shot at being the parent/person you wish you'd been yesterday.

Keep the lines of communication open, and make it clear that your love is unconditional through your actions AND your words.

Keep trying to BE a good mother and you WILL be a good mother. Just the fact that you wonder how to be better shows you try every day - no one can ask for more than that. Your kids are as lucky to have you as you are to have them.

Also, after they're in bed? Drink. Just saying...

Aimee said...

There are some things only adult children should know about their parents, and then there are some things children should never know about their parents. I do think my boys know me much more than I knew my mom at their age, but my kids are homeschooled and my mother was a single working mom- so huge difference in life situations here. My kids are also teenage boys, so I either expose my fallibility to them voluntarily, or they force it out of me and exploit it relentlessly. Your kids definitely need to know you're not perfect and they need to hear you say it. I also have very few friends, but I will admit that I keep people at a distance on purpose, and I also tell my boys that it is OK to disagree with me and be different. Just because I prefer not to have a huge social circle doesn't mean they can't have one.

Maggie May said...

I think she's looking for reassurance that you are OK, that you are happy. I'd take an opportune moment to fill her in on the ways your life fulfills you and remind her that you know how to take care of yourself very well. I've told my kids that before ...I tell Lola 'it's your job to be a kid: to have fun and to learn. it's my job to take care of myself and of you and i'm good at it.' Then she can stop worrying about me :)