Moms are Emotional Punching Bags
Is it wrong to be excited about that empty nest opening up in August?
Don’t get me wrong: I love Singer Girl. She and I are getting along better every day — instead of me asking her to sit down and watch TV, she’s the one who asks “do we have anything taped?” No matter what I am doing, I stop it to sit next to her and roll our eyes at the drama queens on America’s Next Top Model or to critique the designs on Project Runway. But life always must happen on her terms.
I am not allowed to ask her questions about high school, music or college. It’s not that she is hiding anything: my “prying” revs her stress meter into over drive. Case in point: I happened to be reading about what to wear at auditions on College Confidential (great site — have you seen it?). This week we fly to Syracuse, where she will sing for her collegiate supper. Next week we do the same in Miami. I texted her:
“Have you thought about what you are wearing for your audition?”
I said we should chat, that it should be more conservative than stage wear, cute but covered.
“I’ll deal with it later.”
I suggested we work on it over the weekend, so as not to be stressed last minute. I got 4 abrupt texts in succession.
“I’m not gonna focus on that…I’ll do it when I pack…I have to write and record 3 songs before we leave. I’m not gonna focus on my clothes.”
I asked if I could maybe glance in her closet for options. I was rebuffed. I could tell she was stressing about all she had to do, so I encouraged her to ask me for any help — and said I assumed she wasn’t doing anything over the weekend so she could focus on audition prep. Being the stupid mom that I am, I was unaware that she had committed herself to several things over the weekend. “Just calm down I know what I’m doing.”
And I lost it, angrily pointing out that I am just trying to help and perhaps she should be a bit more grateful.
And I have felt guilty ever since.
Why can’t I be the grown up? Why can’t I just remember that she is under a level of stress the likes of which she’s never had before? Why can’t I remember that I am her safe place and not take it so damn personally when she snaps at me?
I know she shouldn’t treat us like this. Saturday we arrived home from car shopping (I bought one finally!), and were surprised to see her at home. She had a gig Saturday night and we thought she would’ve been gone already. She basically ripped our heads off, snarling “don’t start! Just don’t speak!” The next day, I received a text from HWSNBN, and I could feel the steam rising from the phone. Evidently she had been furious with him for deigning to ask where she was gong — with his car. Mind you: both of these fights would’ve been moot if she had just bothered to put gas in HER car, but no. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
When we calm down, and find a quiet moment, she and I both agree we are just too quick to insult and anger. That we know I am just trying to help, and that she is just trying to survive. I remind HWSNBN that we need to remember that she probably DOES have this — we’ve never once had to tell her to do her homework. It’s a fine line though, between pride and sorrow, relief and frustration, when your kid really is trying to not need your help.
Oddly enough, when she does ask for help, we roll our eyes and grumble about her not being able to do things for herself. Friday HSWNBN and I went out to dinner with friends. Soon started receiving a flurry of texts. Could she and Drummer Boy eat the steaks I bought for dinner the night before (on a night I assumed she would be home but, of course, she wasn’t)? Yes. Where are they? In the freezer. How long will take them to defrost. I don’t know, depends on how you do it. So how should I do it? How should I cook it? How should I chew and swallow? I finally told her to google it and let me eat my own dinner in peace.
Sometimes I hear this voice in my head chiding me, asking how I could let her speak to me the way she does. And I do get angry about it. Am I doing the right thing letting her use me to absorb her emotional stress? HWSNBN thinks she is in for a rude awakening when she has a roommate — or a boss. When I mention this to Singer Girl, she snarls back that all of her friends think she is super nice to me and that I am the one with the attitude problem. My guess is that all of those kids are treating their parents similarly, and don’t want to admit they could be wrong. And I am guessing that all the parents are feeling like I am.
In two days we board a plane. I always hope that these trips can have some fun — and she sullenly reminds me that this is not supposed to be fun. I hold out that it can be. I also cling to the idea that in a few weeks, when it is all out of her hands, she will have a little less to yell about, and we can find some more couch time.