This morning my fourteen-year-old-daughter was being her usual moody self. She grumbled and complained while searching for her gym shoes and she huffed and tutted while cramming her lunch into her backpack. As my groggy girl made her way to the door, I passed her a granola bar and an apple. “Have a good day,” I said. And with an eye roll and a sigh, she was gone.
My kid looked exhausted, more so than usual. And I knew she’d been having a hard time sleeping. In fact, she has been having a hard time in a few ways lately. Sometimes it’s like she’s barely staying afloat. This grade nine year has brought a lot of change as well as many new friends. Obviously friendship is good and I am happy she has pals, but these new friends seem to be a bit of a party crew which means I need to keep a good eye on what I say “yes” to. This obviously also means more conflict between my daughter and me. On top of our clashing over her social outings, her classes at school haven’t been going well. Marks aren’t what they used be and she almost failed a class first term. Plus, there isn’t one sports team that she has made it onto, and I can tell her confidence is down because of this.
To help our daughter, we take away her phone for three hours each school night, so she can focus and get her work done. She also isn’t allowed to have her phone or laptop in her room after 10:30. We take her to a therapist once a month so she can talk about whatever she wants to talk about. We support her social life on the weekends (not in the week) by driving her where she wants to go (within reason). We recognize that she needs some freedom and time with friends but she also needs support and limitations right now, whether she thinks so or not. This certainly isn’t a sweet spot as a parent, it’s more of a quicksand filled spot with some fire ants thrown in the mix.
But this morning, when I looked at my teen’s tired eyes— before they rolled back into her head, I saw my girl. I saw past the behaviour and I saw my girl struggling to cope with her teenage life.
I decided I needed to do something to help her out. I wanted to let her know that behind the bravado and the attitude, I see the sweet girl I love. I see my girl, frustrated and angry.
So, after she left this morning, I went upstairs and cleaned her bedroom for her. It was in total disarray, as it often is.
Of course, “clean your room” is on her list of things to do, but so are other jobs and my poor kid just isn’t ticking off the items on her to-do list, willingly. Some days it feels like she is barely getting her school work done let alone any extras.
So, I tidied and I folded. I dusted and I straightened. I washed her sheets and sprayed them with lavender and I placed a roller filled with sleep inducing essential oils in it, next to her bed.
And when she opened up her bedroom door, she called down the stairs: “Thanks, Mom.”
I cleaned the heck out of my teenager’s bedroom today, to let her know I am here. No matter what. Through the moods and eye rolls, the anger and the conflict, the highs and the lows, I am here for her. Always.