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Mothering from Afar

by Janis Beke 12 days ago in parents

mothering in the face of separatoin

Mothering from Afar

I'm sitting here alone, eating some peanut butter toast with puffy eyes and a heart full of confusing emotions.

Those of us who know, know: parenting teens is basically "WTF are they doing? Who TF are they? Who TF am I? Does anyone even know WTF they're doing or who they are anymore??". But then, parenting teens from afar half the time (DURING A PANDEMIC!) because you share custody is next level WTFuuuuuuuckkkk!!

They change from moment to moment at a certain age. Keeping up with them when they live with you full time is enough to make you question everything you ever knew. When they have 2 homes it's that much more difficult to keep track of them and their emotional and physical wellbeing. As much as you can co-parent as productively as possible, there are still 2 sets of standards and 2 different dynamics at play.

One home has 2 adults, 3 teens/pre-teens, 2 cats and is fairly low-key, vibes are pretty calm and everyone has their own space. The other home has 2 adults, 5 teens/pre-teens, 3 dogs and a cat. It's high energy and there are loads of shared spaces. It's fun and lighthearted, but not generally a place of tranquility.

I used to completely disagree that boys were easier than girls. When my boy was younger we butted heads and had some difficult times between 5 and 10 years old. The girls had each other, they played and were easier for me to figure out at those ages.

Fast forward to today: the almost 15-year-old boy is a delight! His interests are clear, he's talkative and pleasant in attitude AND he seems to like us still. I've often thought to myself "what a lovely time this teenagehood is!"

But then there are 13-year-old girls. And I've been one, so I should have known. I should have remembered that Mother-Daughter relationships are...let's say...complicated.

One second I had a sweet young lady who texted me from her Dad's house "Night, Mommy! I love you soooooo much!" and expressed how much she missed me, etc, etc. She shared stories with me and let me hug and kiss her all the time. We baked and sang and laughed.

Then, suddenly, the number on the calendar rolls over and she wants to chop her hair off, develops a disturbing anime obsession and is quietly questioning her whole identity and belief system and doesn't like a single thing she used to.

I'm over the top proud of her. She's all over social justice issues and is not afraid to explore who she is, which is really how I hoped and dreamed this would go for her. She's safe from religious expectations and shame and isn't so much a people pleaser. Like, YESSSSS!

These are things I wanted for her, but I didn't really expect to feel this way as the Mother. I certainly never expected that I would have to do all of this processing from over here, while she's over there. Trying to find creative ways to communicate and stay connected when there's this chasm of space between us every other week. Wishing I could annoy her with my hugs and questions and knock on her bedroom door to see why she hasn't shown her face yet today.

3 more days until I can do those things again. And I will. And hopefully, she'll indulge me a little and let me soak up every second until the next week comes.

Janis Beke
Janis Beke
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