This morning while stopped at a traffic light I watched a mom on a rant. It was my neighbor actually, who is a great mom to a great kid, most of the time. She was clearly annoyed with her daughter, whose gaze went everywhere except to her mother’s face. I could feel the push and pull between the two of them; the mother talking and talking without pause for her daughter to speak, and the girl, waiting for a chance to defend herself but relenting to one long sigh that went nicely with her rolling eyes. It was a clear case of the mother needing to be heard verses the girl wishing mother would just shut up. Of course it’s possible, even likely that the girl was thinking about lunch with her friends, or about a boy. I’m pretty sure she burst from the car as soon as they pulled up in front of the school and she didn’t look back, except to glare. But more importantly she won’t remember a single thing that was said in the car. Of this I am certain.
The first thing I did when the mom/daughter duo passed by me at the traffic light was smile, happy it wasn’t me. It could have been, but it wasn’t, at least not this morning. I only had a 15 second glimpse of the scene in the minivan, the mom’s hand waving in the air, her unpainted face stuck in a grimace, a mom who’d had her fill of back talk and excuses, of lousy attitudes and empty promises from her teen. And the teenager, whose body was in the car and whose mind was a million miles away. I get it.
The fight is exhausting.
We give them unsolicited advice. We ask what they’re up to when we already know. We make punishments ten times larger than the offense calls for, and then when we’re too weary to follow through with the consequences, we grant them amnesty “this one time.” Is it possible that we make them as crazy as they make us?
If there were a job posted that listed the qualifications, expectations, consequences, and pay of a mom, nobody would interview. You’d have to be crazy to take that position! But maybe that’s just it. Crazy. Yes, it is crazy to expect that their agenda, at 16 years old, could even remotely match ours. It is crazy to think that she could understand how badly I want her to mature into a decent, loving and lovable human, one who makes good choices and contributes well to society. And, it is crazy to think that I can remember high school the way she sees it today. It’s all a little nutty.
So if we are crazy, that explains the scene in the van right? Maybe. But here’s what I also know. The same arm that I saw waving like mad as their minivan passed my car this morning is the same arm that will hold the girl from harms way at any cost, and that same grimacing face spewing ultimatums in the car is the same face that will say “I love you, even when you make me crazy, I love you.”
So if you lose your cool once in a while, if you know a mom who goes a little bonkers from time to time, or if you look in a minivan at the school drop off and see a mom on a rant, rest assured that this is because crazy is part of the job description.
Let’s face it; you wouldn’t get the job any other way.