Suddenly your baby has turned into a teenager, and you are now brutally dismissed losing ground to friends and technology, you feel your heart crushed because your invitations to do something together are followed by rolled eyes and- I do not want, it is annoying…I have other plans…
You are then hurt, because after years of dedication to your child, you are not sure if you have done enough.
One day you wake up and feel judged: “The daughter is rebellious because she never had limits… or, kids are the reflection of their parents…the mother must have failed somewhere during her daughter's childhood…
Then you blame yourself too: "I did not know how to be a good mother; "My child is just like me, I failed.
In the past, all sacrifices (that are now classified as selfish mistakes) seemed to really be creating some kind of safety, you probably found yourself overworking so the child could contemplate a bright future! with less suffering and a better life than his parents, with less anxiety and sadness than you, with more possibilities than you had.
But it turns out that your child is doing the opposite of what you dreamed and planned.
And overnight you feel like you are looking at a different child; with a different body, using different vocabulary, and displaying different attitudes.
It seems like all your love, efforts, dedication, care or sleepless nights were not enough to make your child the person that society wants her to be.
And, secretly, you admit that your child has not become the person you would like her to be either…’It must be a phase’, you think. And that thought calms you down for awhile until you child start to make illogical demands, or until you get a call from school for the third time in a week saying that your child has been disrespectful and must be collected, or you find evidences that your loved daughter is lying and bursting with rage every time that you try to find a rational explanation, banging doors to leave without consent, to some place you don't know...all in contrast with the thousands pictures of amazing parents posting how proud they are of their incredible teenage kids who have just being accepted at Harvard University!
And again the little voice in your head keeps reminding you that maybe this is a reflection of your skills as a mother. You go over a series of things you have read and need to practice: You have to be patient, you can't shout, you need to give them privacy, you need to trust them, you have to give love and that will be enough, you need to pray more, you need to adjust your lifestyle... and so on. Then you feel as if you have bomb in the place of your heart, and keep walking in eggshells, careful to not explode.
Until the day that you do!
Then you place your head over your hands and cry. Or perhaps you cry every day hidden.
And you pray, meditate, beg and bargain with God, Buddha, Krishna every day for a miracle just for the next day, the cycle of guilt, fear, frustration and solitude begin again. Deep down you feel lonely with no one to talk, as people have their own lives and it's also hard to listen to "do this or that” advices and feel that everyone knows the answer apart from you.
You look inwards trying to hold on to this unconditional love and wisdom that all mothers naturally posses right? The six sense that will pop up to make things ok…the strength that all women were born with…and you find none…then you conclude that the problem must be you indeed.
I suspect my fellow mothers of teens, that they made us believe in a world that does not exist and today we are trying to fit in, suffering and torn inside, struggling not to be the crazy mother who screams at the child, or the permissive mother who has spoiled the son, or the controlling mother who suffocated their kids and so on…
Today I want all the mothers in the world to receive my love and empathy, I write almost to convince myself… It’s Saturday night and I was suppose to be out celebrating a good friend’s birthday, but my frustration compels me to write my feelings not only to understand my own chaos, but to perhaps help any other mother who has ever felt like they have not done enough.
Read with attention this message: I want you to know that you did the best you could and that you only got so far by doing your best. I want you to know that if you for any reason do not did what you were ‘suppose to do’, it's because you certainly did not know how to, after all, children are not born with a 'owner’s manual'. I want to tell you that life is not a cereal advert, therefore do not believe the pictures you see.
These photos show a stage and I assure you that the behind the scenes it is very different. I want to tell you that maybe your life has not been easy. Perhaps you have lacked love of mother, father, lacked healthy family relationships, and this generated emptiness that is still in the process of being healed and filled.
Maybe your life so far has not happened as you dreamed and you suffered with a separation, with a loss, with a problem in the family and this has caused you and your child deep marks that were out of your control. I want to tell you that tiredness leads to actions that we do not want. And that you can read, go to therapy or meditate as much you wish, but this will not provide you with total balance when your child is acting in a way that you can’t recognise.
Have you ever learned to swallow tears or not to show feelings? then how to expect to know precisely how deal with the feelings of a teenager?
I want to tell you that your cry (the one you hold and the one you loose) wants to show you that you need to stop and look at you. That you need to stop blaming yourself, hiding yourself thinking you're the only mother in the entire universe who made a mistake with your child. I also want to tell you that you need to stop defending yourself and saying that you do not need help. You do, I do.
I want to tell you that people who judge you are also injured in some part of their lives. And that is not personal, we are all trying to survive this new society, in the information age, seeking for approval, but it is an illusion to want to be part of society that do not even exist.
If second experts, we are moving into a generation of the saddest teens in modern history, it cannot be only you, a single mother,the responsible for the whole picture.
The world of "make believe" creates comparisons, and it is dangerous. Don't always believe in the carefully projected and painfully protected 'better lives' that you see.
Take on your difficulties, connect with your truth of love, hope and faith. Despite all your doubts and uncertainties remember you are the best mother your child could have wished for, and the best person to guide and to love them. We are all love, but at some point we forget it and we enter the path of fear. There is no shame in love. There is no room for doubt in love. Your child is also love, no matter how much they do not seem to be today, they are.
Today I invite you to look at your adolescence as a gift. Maybe this gift has been wrapped in "trouble" and you do not know how to unwrap it, but I assume that when you learn to face it and develop tools to deal with the daily obstacles, the reward will be worth it. It has to.
In many Brazilian native tribes adolescence is considered a new birth. A new child and a new mother. A mother who is more mature, with scars, is also born, and when this mother become aware of the power she is about to gain through life experience, she will regain the confidence to do what needs to be done. We become 'matriarchs' that beautiful older yet ageless wise women sat at the end of the table who advises and inspires so much dignity and atemporal strength.
Logically, if it's a new birth, it's time for you to learn to be a teenager's mother. And there's nothing wrong with that, in fact, anyone who believes they know everything loses the opportunity to reinvent themselves.
If you child seems to be temporary rejecting your love, then my advice would be love anyway, and love yourself: Take a long shower, practice some yoga, eat some chocolate, watch a comedy. The wonderful thing about life is that every day we get a chance to start over and it's always time to rewrite our stories. If you've read this far, I want to thank you. I'm also a ‘newborn’. I'm often scared and I feel guilty. Most of the time I do not know what to do with my life and specially with my daughter, in such moments I often write. I don’t like feeling vulnerable (actually I hate it with passion), I often get disheartened and I have the tendency to get wrapped up on my own dramas.
My life is not perfect and looking at my social media you might be tempted to believe that it is. But this is a stage, remember? My backstage is not always so glamorous and accepting, however it was precisely during my 'unregistered' moments that I had the opportunity to thrive and to become stronger, more aware and eventually able to surrender to happiness, never taking it for granted every time it knocks my door. I’ve been told before that I don’t look old enough to have a nearly 15 year old daughter, but I AM, and certainly feel my years most of the time….Finally, although I mentioned that I don’t like feeling vulnerable, when I finally allow myself to reach out help arrives, from the right person, book, article, movie, music, activity, at the right time, but specially from me to myself, or God, when I accept myself as part of something greater than my experience.
You are stronger than you think, a warrior, beautiful, powerful, hardworking and loving and if today is hard to see it, start again. One day at a time, one step at a time. But do not give up.