Save me, I’m drowning! There is water filling up my boat and I’m sinking fast.
The waves of parenting are threatening to sink me along with my diaper bag, breast pump, neglected husband and the dog who just ate the kids chicken nuggets off the colored plastic plates.
This is how I often felt when my kids were little.Those days had me screaming into my pillow as I wondered would I make it even to the shower that day and get this once upon a time Bobbi Brown’ed head above water again?
I had to remind myself to hold on tight, keep on paddling and that no matter how high the waves become, keep the boat afloat.
Although exhausted from all that paddling trying to stay above water, it was all worth it.There at night lay my beautiful sleeping baby tucked up in bed in her fluffy, warm pajamas. The ones with the big heart in the middle and the writing that says it all. At the end of the day, “I love you.”
Fast forward to the teen years and increasingly I find myself thinking that it all seemed so simple then. Don’t get me wrong, I love teens, I’ve loved every stage of parenting, but the teen years can be damn hard work.
I have earned these grey hairs and honestly, some days I think seriously about having a drink way before breakfast. Once more I feel the waves crashing against my boat, threatening to drown me and cause some serious water damage to my relationship with my child. Once again, I find myself drowning.
Some days see wave after wave crashing in as I reach to put my life jacket on. My teen gives me death stares from across the room for not allowing her to wear that too low cut top she bought while out shopping with her friends.
Here comes a tsunami as she spits at me that I couldn’t possibly understand what life is like for her as a teenager after I tell her that she cannot go to the party and ask her for the umpteenth time to get off her phone, stop taking selfies and tidy up her room. More so now than ever I have to keep on paddling. I can do this, keep the boat afloat.
It’s at times like these I can totally understand those animals that eat their young. I find myself feeling guilty after she storms out of the house late at night, slamming the door behind her knowing that I have to go after her and throw out that life ring. I wonder for just a little too long though, what might happen, if I didn’t?
But, I do.
I keep on paddling. I crash against the rocks and go after her and find some way to make her grab onto the life ring. I pull her back in. Save her. Save us, and once again try and work things out.
Once again I work to cross that sea and calm the waters. I can do this I tell myself, keep paddling, keep the boat afloat. After all, at the end of the day, “I love you.”
She tests my boundaries. She makes me feel doubtful of my ability to get this parenting game right, in any shape or form. Some days I feel so weighted down by the amount of water I’ve taken on I can’t seem to get to dry land, no matter how hard I try.
She tests my limits. If there’s a way to get away with something I’ve said no to, she’ll find it. After a two day standoff following a big argument with her yelling at me about how much I’m ruining her life and how she just knows that I hate her, I will reach out. I fumble to find those oars again that only yesterday seemed just so out of reach. I keep paddling, and keep the boat afloat.
Throughout all the years I will listen, worry, lose sleep and drown my sorrows in red wine and triple chocolate ganache ice cream. I encourage, cheer up, support and most of all, just be there.
I pack one more note in her lunch box and text one more heart emoji to her on her way to school. Somehow hoping it’ll brighten her day. Hoping that it’ll help her stay strong as the waves come crashing against her shore now, and make her life as a teen just a little easier.
I keep paddling, I keep the boat afloat and repair the water damage. With a little luck today might be the day the sun comes out. The day the boat dries out and everything looks beautiful again. On the really good day, why, not only can I keep the boat afloat, I make it all the way over to her side.
Then in the evening, my teenage daughter comes to me with arms outstretched. After all, at the end of the day,
“I love you.”