I had a conversation in the car today with my 15-year-old daughter that made me want to throw up. It was not unlike one of those carnival rides at the fair that go up, down and then shake you back and forth like James Bond’s famous martini.
This mama was shaken, stirred and ultimately hung over afterwards. But, since I have been physically sober for almost 4 years now, I am strong enough to handle a little emotional hangover also – especially when instead of running from my feelings I allow myself to sit in them instead.
I could go on and on about what my emotions were on the subject, how we sorted it out afterwards, and where we ultimately landed, but I’ll keep it short and simple:
- My daughter set a healthy boundary with me.
- Because I initially perceived it as a threat, not a boundary (because I couldn’t possibly be wrong, right?) my back went up.
- I felt the conversation getting more heated than a hot flash and told her I wanted to shelve the discussion. (Bonus points for me for doing what I should be doing! #notescalatingthecrazy)
- When she left the car, I called a friend. And by friend, I mean sponsor, who doesn’t beat around the bush. Lilly: “So you’re upset with your daughter for telling you the truth about something you are uncomfortable with dealing with?” Me: “Um…” What else could I say? She was right.
- When Pip got back in the car she immediately apologized. “Mom, I’m sorry. That was a lot of tension. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
- To this I said, “No, you should have. Just because I’m not good at telling people directly how I feel all the time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be. It’s okay. I’m glad you’re safe enough to let me know.”
Lest I come off like a saint, let me tell you that this was a 15 year process of screwing up, wronging my kids, manipulating the conversation to make me look like the victim or, equally attractive, just plain old co-dependently saying what I thought my kids wanted me to hear so I could come off like a “good mom” only to explode moments before a big event because I was resentful, exhausted and very likely half a bottle into Two Buck Chuck at their highly anticipated Halloween excursion. (Going as Hottest Drunk Mom on the Block? It wasn’t as exciting as it sounds.)
Getting sober taught me to be rigorously honest with myself. Drinking, turns out, wasn’t my problem. It was the thinking that got to me. It was my brain telling me things like, “You just need a fxxxin break” or “You deserve so much more than this drudgery mom nonsense” and, worse of all, “You are RIGHT Andrea.”
When I’m right, it leaves very little room for my kids to have an opinion with their defensive, cranky, I must have it my way mom.
Tonight my daughter set a boundary with me. And it didn’t feel good, because in this case, she was right. I had to change my thought process on something. Ouch. Puke. Why can’t you be 5 and just think I’m amazing… even when I’ve eaten half your Halloween candy and wrapped used stuffed animals for Christmas to save an extra 5 bucks?
But in the end, I’d rather lose my butt than save my face. And seeing my daughter’s face flooded with relief that I was not going to shut her down was worth every second of my ego deflation.
I’m now off to take my son to a group activity he doesn’t want to go to but… Rex and I set a boundary with him and so off he goes.
Subbing, surrender to the God of my understanding and more driving than a New York taxi driver – such is this season of motherhood for me. But it beats drinking and crashing into all my relationships because I’m just not present with my honest, hairy and often uncomfortable truth.
Cheers to you this Friday. Mamas, you are not alone! We’re in this together.
(Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook.