On Parenting a 5-Year-Old Teenager

On the eve of Mother’s Day, Facebook has filled with pictures of people’s moms, blogs been loaded down with odes to mom. But it isn’t the love professed for a mother that seems to stand out. It’s the admission from kids who now have kids of their own that, yes, Mom, we get it. We GET what we put you through. As my parents tell me — often — grandchildren are a grandparent’s best revenge.

And so today, I have a confession to make. I am parenting a 5-year-old teenager. And I love her MORE than a fat kid loves cake.

But boy is it hard.

There it is. Mom, I get it.

I get that kids are hard. But more so, I get that it isn’t so much their petulance that digs into your heart and claws at the vessels. It’s the love you put into them, only to have them slam the door and march away from you that makes your inside feel like they’re about to burst.

Today I stood outside the house working in the yard. I was turning the compost pile (oh yes, the life of a country girl is fab-u-LOUS!), when she waltzed outside in nothing but a pair of blue undies. Well, that and a smear of chocolate Oreo crumbs on her lips.

She wanted a kiss. How sweet, huh? How adorable? Delectable?

A mother’s dream?

Mmm. Until you consider I had one foot nearly ankle deep in moldy pumpkins from last Halloween, and she wasn’t merely asking for a kiss. She was demanding it, sucking out all the sweetness with a cranky puss.

And when I finally shook the earth from my sneakers and turned to offered a quick smacker, she was done with me, headed for the house and the pile of Littlest Pet Shop critters that have taken over the coffee table.

“Come back!” I yelled. “Lend a hand! Grab that wagon, pick up those toys, I’m prepping the lawn for Daddy to mow!”

To which she stamped her little foot, and announced — loud enough for the neighborhood to hear — “But if people see me, they’ll think I look like a freak!” and turned on her tail, headed, again, for those toys in the living room while I continued the unenviable job of scooping dog poop from the grass lest my husband step in it.

Sure, the experts will tell you I should have been concerned about my daughter’s self-esteem, worried that she truly thinks herself a freak, rushing to take her into my arms and whisper girl power mantras into her ears.
I just wanted to know why she walked outside in nothing but blue undies, and was now blaming me for keeping her out here. That. That’s what went right to the gut.

They say kids lash out at their parents because they’re testing boundaries, because they feel that these are the people who they can trust will never desert them, no matter how badly they act. It’s a fact that offers little solace in the face of a stamping pre-pre-teenager casting blame in your direction.

That this is not an every day occurrence in our household, that I shut down the tantrum with an immediate disciplinary action (she moved the wagon and toys under threat of losing our movie date) does not make it hurt any less either.

And so, there it is. I get it. I get what makes motherhood grand, and what makes motherhood grate. Because love is taking what they dish out and not cuddling but correcting. How’s that for a Happy Mother’s Day?

When did you feel like you “got it”?

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  1. This sounds just like Ms. Thang to me! Haha, you'll tell her this in ten years and she'll march upstairs and slam the door at you in embarrassment, jussttttt wait :]xoxo

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