I realize that being a teenage girl (because you never forget what that feels like) and mothering a teenage girl are two very separate things.
I somehow thought that because my experience with this still felt fresh (I’m beginning to think it always feels fresh because it’s so hellish), I’d be able to handle having a teenage girl with more grace than I currently am.
But that isn’t happening.
Sure, my experiences have come in handy during some tough times and I’ve been able to tell her about some lessons I learned and things I did that helped and the other things that made my teenage life worse, but…
The thing I’m learning here is that every teenager, every person, every young woman, is made up of so many different things you can’t base your parenting solely on your past life lessons.
Just because I did certain things as a teen and blocked select moments out of my mind, and ignored experiences, it doesn’t have much bearing on how my daughter will act.
She is her own person and having her has changed my life for the better, but having a teenager daughter is a mixed bag of happiness, closeness, being ignored and shunned, and crying yourself to sleep because you are rummaging through your brain trying to figure out how you can get through to her and let her know how much she is loved.
You so badly want to tell her things like:
You are going to be okay.
This too shall pass.
You don’t need friends like that in your life.
He wasn’t the one and there will be other loves that will make you realize why this relationship didn’t work out.
Sometimes you stop yourself because you remember when your mother said those words to you, you weren’t able to digest them.
And you’ll be damned if you are going to sound like your mother in a situation like this.
But there are times when you can’t help yourself and the words come out and you mean them with every ounce of you and want her to hear you.
Having a teenage daughter means she can be as sweet as pie when she wants something from you and have venom spew from her mouth the very next moment.
Having a teenager daughter means getting a text requesting chocolate and strawberries and mini pads while you are at the grocery store and being really distraught because you just got your period too and you know it’s going to be a rough week.
Having a teenage daughter means you are going to be searching for your favorite shirt only to find it crumpled on her floor along with a broken blush compact and cotton balls smeared with old nail polish.
Having a teenage daughter means you have to talk with her over and over trying to cement points like: Save yourself for someone special and don’t listen to people who tell you that you aren’t capable and remember just because someone finds you desirable and wants to be intimate doesn’t mean they value you.
Having a teenage daughter means she may change overnight and stop letting you into her world and you will try desperately to connect with her because you think you can help but she doesn’t want it. Not from you anyway.
Having a teenage daughter means she will call you out on your crap and remind you that you were the one who taught her she could grab a hold of things and handle them on her weakest days. And you need to walk the same walk you showed her.
Having a teenage daughter means you will drop anything if she decides to take a break from her social life and ask for some alone time with just you.
Having a teenage daughter means nothing quite prepares you for when she comes to you with a broken heart and all you want to do is endure the suffering for her so she doesn’t have to go through this.
Having a teenage daughter means you will start picturing yourself straightening her veil on her wedding day.
Having a teenage daughter means she walks into a room and you catch a glimpse of her as a toddler mixed with this young woman before you, and you wonder how you could have possibly made such an awesome being.
Having a teenage daughter means your anxiety is spiked and you are always aware and want to protect her from everything at all times.
But having a teenage girl means you don’t shield her from all the bad because you can’t. And you want to raise a young woman who is independent, can speak for herself, mend her broken heart, take responsibility for her wrongs, and cry alone in her room if that’s what she needs.
And it’s both beautiful and excruciating to see her blossom, then struggle, then grow some more.