Sometimes being a parent means giving up things… This morning it means giving up my gym time because my tenth grader is (most likely) faking sick, to stay home from school and sleep in. Sure, from what could be your (the reader’s) perspective, this could seem like she may rule the roost around here. She may sound spoiled. I may sound like a horrible parent, allowing such undisciplined behavior…
I mean, what kind of mother allows their 15-year-old to wake up and say “I don’t feel good, can I stay home?” and follows it with a “sure, whatever you want, go back to bed.” It’s not like I wasn’t already awake at 5:12 in the morning and wouldn’t have loved to go back to bed myself. (unfortunately, I’m not wired that way.)
Sometimes being a parent means making the tough calls… In this house we believe in mental health days.
I’ve written a bit about it before, but my beautiful, amazing and very bright daughter has a lot of heavy burdens. She really carries some huge struggles and some seasons are a lot more difficult than others. Now that she’s getting older her struggles tend to come out in the form of defiance, rage, self-destruction and deception. There is always a storm raging beneath her surface, and being the human being who loves her maybe more than anyone else on the planet- this brings me great pain. In the seasons that are especially difficult for her though, (which are from Halloween to New Years and then again in the month of March.) these are typically the hardest and darkest times for our family. She is always the barometer at which our family functions because she is unpredictable and, well, we’ve just learned to cope the best we can. Those harder times though, those harder times are worse. They are worse because there is also this need to make them lovely. These are holiday times, and birthday times, which is psychologically why she sets out to ruin them (unintentionally.) The old instinctual reaction of hurt them, before they hurt you; or ruin it first so you are disappointed when someone else ruins it for you. Heartbreaking really…
Sometimes I reflect on the last decade plus, of this journey, and I think about how much better things have gotten. The truth is though, in the majority of ways they haven’t gotten better, Chw and I have just grown more honest with ourselves. We live our lives, and spend our holidays differently than you or I might. And it’s certainly not all bad. In fact, in this week’s episode of the podcast we touch on one of the sweeter, (and crucial) parts of the holiday season, for us. Adoption is a beautiful, but tricky thing.
So, if my fifteen year old is feeling overwhelmed and needs to take a break from everything- I’m ok with that. In fact, we taught her that it was ok to do that. It’s her third time in the semester and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. She has great grades, isn’t going to miss any major tests or important deadlines today.
Today, for me, being a parent means admitting that I’m so grateful she can acknowledge this need within herself, even if she isn’t fully able to be honest about just needing some time, and rest.