My daughter sent me a text that she wanted to go to Walmart to check out some new bodysuit-type things this afternoon after not talking to me all day. She’s been up in her room, didn’t want to come down and have lunch with me and I got a major attitude when I asked her to fold the laundry. It’s her chore in this house and she’s expected to do it in exchange for her cellphone.
My son came home from work last weekend and was complaining to me because we were out of mustard. He also didn’t feel like going out to dinner with me despite me asking him all week. There’s a new burger place I’ve been wanting to take him to and he’s been too busy to come.
He opted to stay in his room and fume over the fact we were out of yellow mustard (we had spicy which is way better, Hello!) so I went by myself.
My teens just don’t see me
I sat in the car and ate my juicy double and fries while looking out at the waterfront near my house. There were days not too long ago when my car used to be full of salty fried food scents, and kids laughing, fighting, or deciding it was a great time to talk about their bathroom habits.
I’m seen when they need a ride, money, or they are craving my lasagna recipe. Their voices seem more cheerful when they want a friend to come over or they would like a new pair of sweatpants.
They don’t seem to notice when I am over my head
They pay more attention to me when I’m handing out treats versus when I’m handing out advice. And they don’t seem to notice when I’m so tired and overwhelmed I don’t think I can take one more step.
This is the way it works though. Right now, I am the silent partner in their lives. The one they come to when they need something or want something. I am there for support, a lean post when they need to rest. I’m not their go-to person when they want to have a good time on a Saturday night and it’s rare when they ask me if I need any help.
I get it, I get it all. I was a teenager once and it never crossed my mind that my mother was a person who was on the same level as me. She was there to serve me; to do for me; to protect me if I needed it.
It never even occurred to me that my mom might have felt unseen
It never occurred to me that she felt cast aside, invisible, or a huge void when we grew up and no longer got Subway sandwiches on Tuesday nights, looked forward to Saturday night pizza, or wanted to go to the mall with her. My life revolved around school, my friends, and finding out who I was.
I’ve been a parent to teenagers for almost six years now. I have three of them, and for the most part, I go with it because I know this is the way the cookie crumbles.
But there are nights, like last Saturday, when I’m sitting in my car eating alone, and I want nothing more than to be seen; to not be invisible; to be appreciated a little more and criticized a little less.
My kids are good and kind and I know they love me. I know it. And yet, there are times when I’m not sure if they’d realize if I didn’t come home when I said I would. Every morning when I leave for my run, I text them to let them know where I’m going and what time I’m expected to be back. And every morning I get no response.
I ask them a few times a week if they’d like to go get a coffee, or take a walk, or watch a show with me. And ninety-five percent of the time they decline.
Being a mom is lonely and the work invisible
Being a mother isn’t just lonely. There are days you feel downright invisible. There are moments you want to stop giving all you are giving because there’s no motivation or incentive to keep on doing it all.
It’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to say you feel like no one even sees you. As far as I’m concerned it’s not complaining or being ungrateful. To be a mother is to love your children unconditionally, even on the days you know they don’t see you.
However, on those days, it’s absolutely necessary to treat yourself to a burger the size of your head, a great manicure, or go for a drive and come back when you feel like it.
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