My life in pictures, stories and open letters.

My life in pictures, stories and open letters.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Time For Self Reflection

My 15 year old daughter is telling me that she is making plans to move out on her own.

I'm not telling you that to give you chuckle or scare anyone with younger children - Well, okay, maybe a little bit of the latter...

I'm mentioning it because all of her talk of no privacy, no independence and too many rules is making me think of my own teen years.

And because I know that I can trust my blogging community to be supportive.

And lastly because according to my poll, you guys want to hear more about my parenting failures. (lol ... See sidebar.)

There is a huge difference between girl teens and boy teens.

Boys generally don't leave home early. I think this is partly because it's easier at home where mom makes suppers and lunches and does the laundry. Boys are freer to come and go and can stay out later and just generally aren't as harped on as girls are. Lastly I think that they want to enjoy spending their own money because they know at some point some girl will come along and use it all up.

Girls, however, have to tow the line. We are harder on girls, I admit. But they/we don't realize that it is partially to keep us safe. Both from the men out there and from ourselves. Girls do stupid things for attention, and guys take us seriously. We can't go out after dark for fear of random acts of violence. We have to go to the bathroom in pairs. More is expected of us and so we rebel in ways that make us sorry later.

I know, because I was a girl once.

A long, long time ago, I moved out on my own. Well, with my boyfriend/soon-to-be-fiance, actually. I was 17. Just going into grade 12.

I didn't move out for any negative reasons.

I moved out because I was hopelessly in love and wanted us to be together and make a home and start our forever.

You know how young girls are. We dream big. Impossibly big.

So when Asia tells me she wants to move out, I can't help but think back.

I remember how hard it was going to school full time and working seven days a week to pay the bills.

I remember having to clean my apartment, which did not happen regularly.

I remember having to have change handy to do my laundry in a communal laundry room where any Joe-Blow could steal my panties.

I remember the first time I went shopping after I moved out and I bought all those fun things like cleaners and toilet brushes and laundry hampers. I also remember damn near crapping myself when I saw the total on the cash register window and hoping to God the check cleared!

I remember the parties I could have gone to no questions asked and curfews I didn't have to worry about. And I remember being too tired and too beyond my years to find those things important anymore.

I remember being free to come and go. Although, with work and school, I wasn't able to enjoy it.

I remember the looks of envy I got from people at school when they found out that I was living on my own. But those looks didn't last long when they saw how hard I had to work to keep it going.

The thing is, though, I don't regret a minute of it. The fact that I remember it so distinctly is a good thing. It was part of what made me me. It was the one and only act of 100% independence I ever truly experienced.

But I didn't move out because I hated my family. I didn't move out because I felt caged and angry. I didn't move out for any negative reasons at all.

And that is what gets me about Asia wanting to leave. It is for the reasons I just mentioned. It is because she hates being here. She thinks she will be happier in a group home, with troubled kids coming from troubled homes.

The roof and clothes and food and love and dancing and soccer and cheerleading and trips and bingos and other fundraisers and being her biggest fans through it all hasn't registered even one iota.

So even though I can't hold her back once she turns 16 and even though she turns this house upside down with hormones and anger and even though part of me longs for peace, I hope she will stay a little longer.

Just long enough to move out for the right reasons. So she will not look back with any regrets.

I hope she will wait until she has her head on straight and a direction to set her sights on.

I hope she will take some time to enjoy the busy-ness that she has always demanded in her life instead of resenting us for giving her what she has asked for.

Regardless of what she does, though, I hope she always knows that she can come home.


13 comments:

Acting Balanced Mom said...

Hugs to you and to Asia while you are going through this - is there a way for her to visit a place like the group home for a weekend to se just how strict their rules would be? And if I'm being too budinsky just say so, but have you considered seeing a family counselor, because to my mind her anger is not just there it could be the sign of a larger depression ... My dd is 11 and I am dreading the teen years but we've done fam counseling twice in the past few years to help keep the relationship on track and help her get through this really emotional time... and sometimes just having an impartial outsider listening helps all of us... stopping by from SITS and now a follower

Ronda's Rants said...

Love to you both! It's hard being a mom and it's hard being 15...at least it was for me. I didn't raise my boys differently than my daughter although I will admit I worried more when Rachel went off to college. Her father tried to hold her back out of fear but she was not a rebellious child but more of a negotiator...Raising my family was the hardest thing I ever did...but the best of my life. Asia will be strong like you and she will find her way as you have. Always love you!

careysue said...

Rhonda,

I was just talking with a classmate this morning on fb and parenting has to be probably the hardest thing we as Mother's will ever do! I've never been through this so I can't say I know how you feel, but know this, I have so much confidence in you handling this the way it should be handled...you know your daughter and you'll do the right thing...she will get through this! Sometimes kids have to learn the hard way and they come out better on the other end, after they've gone through the lessons they've had to learn...I hope that I haven't completely confused you! I think you know what I'm saying! If there's ANYTHING that I can do please let me know...she can come here if you'd like! I love you and know you have a lot of people pulling for your family. Carey

soniaholden said...

HI Rhonda... okay I am not a parent... but I feel your pain. I was Asia when I was an angry 15/16 year old teen who couldn't stand living in my parent's home. I was determined to move out. I spent as many nights as I could away from home, I got a job as soon as I could to save up to move out. I was a realist though, when I started looking at the cost of rent and groceries and bills, I realized that life would be hard. I applied to a high school in Toronto, thinking only really smart kids get in here, and my parents will be so proud they will have to let me go, which would mean moving to a boarding house... how wrong was I? Sure I was accepted, and yes they were proud, but let me move out? No way in hell. Part of me thanks them for that now that I am older and hopefully a little wiser.
Teen years are the "fun" years of parenting, and I know that you are a strong enough woman to handle all that your daughters can throw at you! Remember you raised Asia to be the same. Sit down with her and help her create a budget, let her know what it will take to do it on her own. (very Cosby I know) but it was the wake up call that stopped me from leaving. Much love xx

Sheila said...

Oh my! My heart is just BREAKING for you! My son is 15 and I can NOT imagine him NOT being at home with me!
I hope everything works out for the best and Asia stays with you for awhile longer!

June Freaking Cleaver said...

Does Asia realize that all the extracurricular activities stop when she moves out? Does she even realize how much cash you spend to allow her a carefree, fun existence?

Kids in group homes don't get those privileges. Kids in group homes have to protect themselves and their belongings from harm on a daily basis.

In this area, they have respite care - I could send The Boy to a group home for two weeks if we felt we needed a break from each other - I'm sure he'd find that he'd rather be home at the end of that fortnight.

Wonder if there's something similar in your neck of the woods?

wy-not said...

Oh sweetheart. Your letter is wonderful. Will Asia read it? I dearly hope so. I think the budget-talk is a good idea. And I'm overjoyed to hear that your leaving us at 17 was not because you hated us. Just so you know, it ripped my heart out. I felt then, and I still do, like my 17-year pajama party was over. I missed you. I still do. I hope Asia reads your letter, and that some sense of budgeting will help her see the light. You deserve her love, and one day she will give it freely and openly. God, these are tough years.

Betty said...

I feel for you! This must be so hard, because I remember it well. I moved out and moved to another country with 17! And it was for all the wrong reasons. I hated being home and always fought with my parents. That´s also the reason I got married so young. So I really do know what you mean, and hope that Asia will read this and come to see that she is loved and wanted.
Even though I have no hard feelings against my parents, it´s still a sore spot in my memories, those years....

Anonymous said...

Oh, Rhonda...my mommy heart feels for you! Kristina

KK said...

Oh this is a tough one. I'm sorry! Of course there is nothing I can say that you don't already know, but we are all most definitely here to support you!

Bree Shaw said...

i don't ever remember feeling like i needed to move out. i am a mother of 3 boys (which God knew i wouldn't be able to handle girls) and i hope that they don't ever want to move out for the "wrong" reasons. i have been really struggling with my kids these past few weeks and i know a lot of it is me too, but i am getting tired of fighting, the sassin', the "we don't know anything". yes, i remember being this same way and wonder how in the world my parents survived! i think in today's age, we as parents are giving too much to our children. we want them to be in everything they want, we run them here and there, get them cell phones and every other thing that they HAVE.TO.HAVE! sometimes i wonder if my kids would be better off having the lifestyle that i had or this lifestyle?? hang in there girl.

Lilly said...

Oh God I feel for you both. Its bloody hard is not being both a teenager and a parent of one. Hang in there Rhonda, you are an amazing parent and as you know in a couple of years it will sort itself out. And I do hope she read it because it says a lot. You are open and understand. She is so lucky she has a Mom like that. sometimes letting go is the best thing we can do. She will always come back. Take Care, Big hugs to you both.

Teri said...

Wow, I'm at a loss for words. My heart is aching for you. My 16-year old voiced this desire within the last couple of years. No more, thank goodness. It seemed like such a cool idea to live with all your underage friends as long as your parents would still pay all the bills. Oh, and the parents could never, ever bother you again...just pay the bills.

She has, thankfully, changed her mind. Get this...she very often expresses a concern that she will NOT be ready to move out any time soon. Hmm.

Hang in there.