You know folks have always told me that it is a sad day when your little one reaches the age when they don’t want to be around you anymore. When they think you are just so uncool and anything you say or do is followed by a roll of the eyes or a nasty “WHATEVER MOM!!”. This tends to happen around those awesome tween/teen years (which I am currently in the midst of). Those folks were right …it is sad. I want to turn back time and watch my oldest run around care free during dance class, or beg me to play Barbie with her while she is dressed up in some sort of Disney princess outfit. It’s easy to become consumed with daily routines, school events, summer trips, and athletic activities and before you know it time has passed and your kid has grown into a young woman (who is a smaller, more hormonal, social media crazed version of yourself) and you are left asking where the heck did the time go?
So as I entered this unknown territory of missing those awesome years of being the cool mom, I found myself doing what many of us moms tend to do… harassing and begging my daughter to hang out with me. Sometimes being a bit of a helicopter mom and not giving her space. In my mind I was going to find a way (whether she liked it or not) for her to spend time with me, do things with me, hang out with me…etc. Who was I kidding? I should have known better and somehow should have consulted with the middle school version of myself because this completely backfired. Instead of bonding and building a relationship with my middle schooler, I was pushing her away. This contributed to arguments, a lack of communication, and just a total lack of understanding between the two of us, which created some very tense times in our household.
What I have learned is that having a healthy mother/ child relationship (especially during these tween/teen years) does not mean that your child needs to be attached to your hip 24-7 or that your child is going to want to be around you all the time. I mean think back to when you were in that weird awkward middle school stage. The last thing you wanted to do was be anywhere near your parents. Its not that you didn’t love them, you were just trying to figure it all out… friends, school, boys…. You were also gaining more independence, making more decisions on your own, and taking on more responsibilities. All age appropriate behaviors. At the end of the day you have to remind yourself that this is a developmental stage that all children go through, not to take it personal (sometimes easier said than done) and be present when it counts. It might not happen everyday but these can be some of the toughest years and there will also be lots of disappointments, rejection, and falls. As a parent this is when you need to be the most present with hugs, encouragement, advice, and a shoulder to lean on. Kids take notice of this and just the feeling of knowing that you are there and are available (even if not in the same room) is enough for them.