I’ve said this numerous times already, but it’s my struggle right now.
Parenting is a delicate balance of figuring out when your child needs snuggles and empathy and when they need a kick in the butt.
I don’t have this figured out.
This summer did not go exactly as I planned. (As if that ever happens, but that’s another story) We kicked off summer with preteen hormones kicking into gear. It manifested in a way that completely caught me off guard. The not-typical things that we deal with make it harder to decipher “typical growing up issues” from “OCD anxiety overdrive”.
A trip to the therapist a couple of weeks ago dismissed my worst fears, thankfully.
We were given some coping skills to deal with anxiety.
But there was one particular coping skill that became the go-to solution every time.
Going to Mom with every not-perfectly-happy-thought or random fear or confession. That was the coping skill.
I probably don’t need to tell you how well that went, but I’m going to anyway because I write (now that I’m coming out of the fog of PTSD that summer has given me). How it went was me crying a lot. How it went was me starting to dread each time my daughter came to me to talk. A mama can only hold so much in her brain. It’s really not that big. This mama didn’t have enough bandwidth to deal.
Last Friday, after spending some extra time snuggling and reassuring my child and helping her deal with the fact that she was “sad”, she came home from a perfect evening out with her daddy and had a complete meltdown.
I sent Daddy to deal with it. Usually, that’s the magic trick that works every time. This time, we decided that he would simply tell her that she was okay and needed to just go to sleep. She wasn’t impressed. This message was received, shall we say, poorly?
Yes. very poorly.
Howling and wailing could be heard for miles.
At this point, I knew. I just knew this wasn’t anything other than preteen hormones and not wanting to deal with it herself. And I was DONE. The empathy train had left the station. I walked over to her room and told her, “That’s enough. I understand that you are sad, but what you are doing right now is just to try to upset the rest of us because you don’t like that we asked you to deal with this yourself. You have the ability to calm yourself and you will do it. I am here for you if you have something important that is bothering you, but I’ve already done all of that with you today and you just had a perfect evening. It’s time to stop having a fit right now.”
I texted a friend this weekend: “Death by preteen drama. I am literally typing this from beyond the grave. I’m past the sympathy stage and onto to the “suck it up” and “get a grip” stage.”
She was stunned. The howling stopped. I went to my room and went to bed and woke up early to an apology note from her that she had slipped under my door.
I have no idea how that worked. I’m sticking with that as my go-to right now. At this point, the only thing my extra attention is doing is rewarding her for having a meltdown. No,thank you!
The fact of the matter is that, regardless of whether this is a typical preteen hormonal melt-down or something to do with her OCD, she still needs to learn how to deal with the emotions in a way that doesn’t involve me. It’s like teaching your child to sleep in their bed without being rocked to sleep. Only this time it’s a 9-year-old who can cry a lot louder.
And, you guys! I decided to actually share with my friends that we were dealing with drama. Do you know what happened? So many of them are going through the same thing with their preteens. Apparently, we’re all sitting in our houses in a shell-shocked stupor having a hard time putting two syllables together. But we are not alone!Thank you for telling me that similar scenes are playing out in your house. I was literally in tears reading all the “me too’s” from my friends.
Which brings me to my next point. I think I may be getting over the idea that I need to keep my struggles to myself because some people might think I am not a good mom or struggle too much. Someone else needs to know they aren’t the only one in the preteen hormonal twilight zone. You are so not alone. I’ll probably be camped here for several years and by telling you I’m actually right here, you don’t have to sit over on the other side of the campground thinking you’re alone. Pull up your tent and let’s tell our stories to each other and laugh and cry and buy t-shirts.
If there aren’t t-shirts, we should design some, right? I need a t-shirt.