I had a dream last night that I became so enraged with my 13-year-old daughter, I woke up out of it in a startled sweat and wept.
I wish I knew exactly which real-life event traumatized me so much that I had to process it while I slept. But since I find most of my interactions with my daughter these days traumatizing, trying to pinpoint the exact one seemed like a moot point.
Raising a teenager is not for the faint of heart.
I know my daughter has no idea how hurtful her angst-fueled, tears-filled accusations of me not loving her, understanding her or caring about her actually are. And I remember spewing the same cruel assertions at my own mother when I was her age. I also remember there was NOTHING my mother could have said or done to make things better. Being a teenager sucked, I was suffering, and damn it, I was taking her down with me.
Karma is a bitch.
I used to be one of those smug parents who actually thought I had things under control. I prided myself for studying up—reading the advice of experts, sorting through the different behavioral theories and knowing exactly how to handle a 3-year-old’s tantrum in the middle of aisle seven at Target. But that was back in the days when there was nothing that couldn’t be solved with a cuddle and a kiss. Three-year-olds have very short memories. Teenagers hold a grudge like it’s their job—six weeks later, I’m still paying the price for accidentally throwing away a permission slip my daughter needed for an upcoming field trip. No matter that it was a crumpled up piece of paper left on the kitchen counter like trash.