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March 02, 2010

Wake Me Up When Adolescence is Over

Adolescence "She's such a good baby," my friends and colleagues ooh-ed when my daughter was an infant.

She seemed to know when my maternity leave was about to end, because at just that point she began sleeping through the night.She didn't cry much, and when she did, it was kind of cute. And as soon as she learned to smile, it was apparent that this little girl was born with a good sense of humor.

She was so... easy. And this scared me to tears, because "easy" is not a word most people use to describe raising a child.

I braced myself for the terrible twos -- which weren't so terrible. My daughter was a delight as a toddler and through elementary school and even during the first years of middle school.

When other parents complained of problems getting their kids to study, I tried to keep to myself the fact that my daughter does her schoolwork with nary a prompt from me. When my friends lamented that their kids were caught in a lie, or broke the house rules, I tsk tsked and silently thanked God for giving me a child who seemed to have an inborn moral compass. And when I heard my friends' children sass their moms and dads (sometimes with words that were shocking, coming from people so young), I was pleased with myself for knowing that my daughter would never use that kind of language.

I let down my guard. I may even have become smug.

And then... she turned thirteen. And everything changed.

She's still a good kid. She's helpful, studious and kind. She has the same goofy sense of humor she's always had.

But she's not as easygoing as she used to be. She challenges our authority now, and I realize that's normal (I would be worried if she wasn't testing our boundaries). But it's ALL THE TIME. And it's tiring.

Especially since her father isn't handling it well.

Remembering my adolescent fights with my mother (and noting the fact that she would be going through puberty while I'm menopausal), I had been bracing myself for tough times ahead. But it never occurred to me that the parent she'd be butting heads with the most would be my husband.

In hindsight, it makes sense. Her personality is more like his than mine. And as much as I try to stay out of the fray, I often get caught in the middle.

It's a no-win position. When I think she's out of line, I'm told I never stand up for her. And If I think he's in the wrong, I am guilty of not backing him up.

I have a fantasy of winning an around the world cruise. For one. Which will take me out of town for the next six years.

In the meantime, does anyone know of a deal on a used flak jacket?

Original post for Los Angeles Moms Blog and 50-Something Moms Blog by Donna Schwartz Mills - who tells more horrifying tales of raising a teen at her personal blog, SoCal Mom