Saturday, 25 March 2006

Metamorphising daughter

Over dinner tonight studying my kids I can still see the baby and the little child character in my 12 year old son. It is like he has remained constant although developing, maturing and calming, he is still a reflection of how he was. He has even retained aspects of his looks.

On the other hand 16 year old daughter is unrecognisable to the cute toddler she once was. She always was an unconventional beauty. A touch of mystery with her dark eyes, her creamy peaches skin with a hint of olive and her short curly hair. She and I were so close and inseparable in her first few years. A tight and happy unit we went through a lot together. And then something happened. Something changed and it has been like a long dark tunnel with only the occasional flicker of sunlight with her.

When son was born I didn't automatically take to him and found it hard to imagine I could ever love another child the way I loved my daughter and so I didn't in a way. It took maybe a year for me to really love him and that's when the chinks started to show in my relationship with my daughter. I'm being brutally honest here! I don't think she resents Mr Doris for becoming part of our lives because she is certainly close to him and at times closer to him than I. I've certainly wavered in my affections for her but I don't know which came first her difficult behaviour and me reacting against it or her reacting against me and my changing affections.

Daughter is sixteen and a half now. She seems very happy and this evening she said two nice things to me. First she offered to do some housework and asked what was needed. I suggested a few things and she went and attempted a bit. It was a nice exchange and didn't deteriorate into me sniping at her in any way. Then later on she told me that she would come with me on a family gathering that I had specifically asked her that I would like her to attend. I didn't have to remind her or anything. She just offered. (Unfortunately I need to break it to her soon that we will in fact be sleeping over and I reckon she won't be happy about that but at least she has come part of the way to agreeing.)

Looking at my daughter I search her face for the baby and toddler I loved but I reckon I needed to let go of who she was and what we once had. She's a burgeoning adult who likes to think she is already there, but in some ways she is. She's changed into a beautiful young woman with a gorgeous smile, who feels she has learned a lot and wants to work hard and do well.

If only I can keep my mouth shut and not wind her up maybe she might grow back into being the daughter that I love. (Now ain't that a controversial thing for a mother to say!)

Original Comments:

Cheryl said...
90% of all children, when they finally leave home, do so because of rows with their father. Or at least they did when the nuclear family stayed intact, but you can bet the majority of whats left also leave because of rows with a.n.other - so you see, at 16 or 25, they all are still young enough to blame someone.
So you're the adult she needs to prove herself to, the one she sees as strongest, the one in whose company she puts up the act that is her impression of 'being adult and independent'.

Its good, and if you can see her acting out not as an action but as a reaction - as railing against the strength and authority she sees in you, just by you standing there; thats she's acting from the stance that you have won, already; then it helps.

And yes, at worst it takes until they have children of their own for some large and pride-removing pennies to drop.

Hang on in there.
Saturday, March 25, 2006 11:19:00 PM
MrsDoF said...
Very insightful.
The relationship with a mother and daughter is lots of give and take, and the mother has to be the one to recognize the give, because of being the grown-up.

I have a friend whose daughter is 14, and my friend says this has been the worst year of her own life. She wakes up every morning and makes an effort to find positive to hang onto.
Saturday, March 25, 2006 11:31:00 PM
dog1net said...
Ah, but to be a parent. When we're in the thick of it, especially when our children are in their teens, it's as if we're always questioning whether we 're going to survive the experience. But they do grow up, and seldom are our worst fears realized. I knew my son was quite a challenge--very engaging and lots of energy--but he crossed the threshold into adulthood just fine. He's now in the Army accomplishing things I never thought he'd be motivated to try. Since you seem to be the stronger parent, consider yourself fortunate that your daughter tests limits with you. As long as you continue to set them in a manner that's fair, and allow for natural consequences when she makes a poor choice, she'll always have you to thank after she's on her own. Wonderful, insightful writing on parenting. Thanks for bringing me back.
Sunday, March 26, 2006 2:10:00 AM
Le laquet said...
Bles you both it's a turbulent time in life. I remember hateful, poisonous slanging matches with both my mother and father ... not with my brother mind you because I just refused to admit that he even existed!! However we came through the other side and mow have a fntastic relationship ~ hang in there and enjoy the sweet moments!
Sunday, March 26, 2006 7:11:00 AM
doris said...
Cheryl I didn't know the statistics would be that high against fathers. And you know: "thats she's acting from the stance that you have won" that is so true a lot of the time. I feel this whole defence from her as if I have not only won but that I am obviously doing things much better than her etc. And yet I have never felt like that. It is very difficult to praisie her as she just refutes anything.

Things are definitely getting better all the time though.

MrsDof Thank you also for another thoughtful comment. I am grateful that my daughter is still here and that I haven't been like my mother so yes, it is up to me to make it better.

Dog1Net Great to hear about your son. And you have a very interesting and pertinent post on your blog about the youth of today.

LeLaquet I've heard that from others who had fought with their parents and that kept me going in the earlier days of teenage difficulties.
Sunday, March 26, 2006 10:33:00 AM
Ally said...
I can see my relationship with my own mother in your post; and interesting point from Cheryl - I eventually left home because my father gave me the 'under our house you live by our rules and I won't have you upsetting your mother' speech; which I suspect might be fairly standard.

I love my mother (and father) dearly; but I couldn't live with her as two adult women in the same house. I guess that that teenage period is where mothers and daughters renegotiate their boundaries, which are bound to be always changing as the daughter gradually matures.

You are so insightful - this relationship is something I'm still actively struggling with and you've given me something in this post that I think will help me.

As the others say - hang in there! x
Sunday, March 26, 2006 11:59:00 AM
doris said...
Ally I think it is a very good point that as adults we might not actually be able to live together. I know I couldn't live with my mother anymore!

As for me, I'm the cat that has got the cream as regards Mothers Day. I'm going to leave this desk - was going to catch up wtih some more work but not going to now - don't wont to waste an opportunity. More another time and wish me luck :-D
Sunday, March 26, 2006 2:16:00 PM
Ghone said...
I love children, me.
But couldn't eat a whole one!

I'll be posting some Mrs Pig photographic news in a month or so. Well, a photo will definitely be Due before the 10th of June! ;o)
Sunday, March 26, 2006 4:07:00 PM
Karen said...
Just dropping by to say thanks for the comment you left - I decided to delete the post as I know the person involved has now read it - I wanted you to know I appreciated your comment....
Sunday, March 26, 2006 9:03:00 PM
Milt Bogs said...
A daughter would have been nice. I'm not sure I'd have got on with the boyfriends though.
Monday, March 27, 2006 8:34:00 PM
Neutron said...
Hi Doris,

Thanks for the blogbirthday greetings!

As many have suggested: hang on in there...they go into puberty and...they come out again! My oldest daughter (22!) was at my gig last night with her boyfriend singing along and having a great time.
Monday, March 27, 2006 10:38:00 PM
Pookie65 said...
If you only knew what kind of a sixteen year old I was. My mother and I were at odds constantly from the time I was 14 until I FINALLY changed for the better at around age nineteen. I wasn't the sole cause of our troubles by any means but always wont to have the last word I was not a pleasant child to be around. Now my mom and I are the closest of friends and have been for many, many years. I honestly believe that gay sons and daughters share a similar relationship with their mothers. For the "turning years" we live at odds. Neither the parent or the child wanting to back down. Ever. It's a natural progression in the relationship for a teen. A rather nasty one but none the less a natural one.

If it's any consilation I belive this difficult time really does bring you closer in the long run. My mom and I can laugh together over some of the things from those years that were just horrid.

Many hugs, Doris. You are a great inspiration for your daughter to grow into. She is just having a hard time finding herself right now. She's not gone from you -- just stepping into her own emotional cacoon of growth.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 1:09:00 PM
Astryngia said...
Being a mother to girls...such a different experience to boys - the daughter in us, the mother in them. It was such a (unexpected!) relief to discover I was to be mother to a boy. Fascinating description of your experience - thanks for sharing it!!
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:00:00 PM
jane said...
It's a scary thing to watch our kids turn into young adults, knowing they'll soon be on their own. I also had such a close & special bond with my 1st child. I bet once your daughter moves out, you & she will be closer.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 8:35:00 PM
Writer Mom said...
Excellent honesty. Fantastic for me to read.
My children are still young, but I get glimpses here and there that someday I will HAVE to start detaching. I will HAVE to deal with them thinking for themselves.
I tell myself the arguments are nature's way of making letting go easier.
We'll see.
Saturday, April 01, 2006 9:07:00 PM
Shirley Buxton said...
Somewhere years ago, I read that children go slightly (or more!) crazy for a few years. Around 17 years of age, they regain their sanity and come back.

Hang in there. Be sweet, but remember you are the parent; she is not.

I am 67 years old now, have reared 4 children, who have all turned out very well, although there were times when I could have killed them all!

Blessings to you and your family.
Saturday, April 01, 2006 9:13:00 PM

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