I’m not even sure where to begin. On many occasions I’ve written about my family, and how this journey has played a positive role in our family life on the whole. The effects have been numerous and wonderful. But, not always easy, smooth, and painless. Not without mistakes and issues to work through, both individually and as a family unit.
Being a mother is maybe the most rewarding and difficult thing I have done and will ever do. I constantly evaluate my actions, decisions, approaches, and plans. I endlessly look at myself to try to offer my girls the best me I have to offer. But, I make tons of mistakes. And while I try not to let regret cloud my actions and decisions, it does take me a while to process through it internally. I need to understand the mistake, find out why it was made and how to avoid it in the future. M and I both do. We want to guide and support the best we can.
For some time, M and I have been on a journey. I honestly believe it was a path we were organically traversing, and it paved the way for this dynamic to flourish. We are in a very good place, and for that I am ever grateful. Facing parenting challenges is so much more fruitful when we act as a cohesive team and have a deep communication between us and with the girls as well. But, again, we’ve made mistakes. Many.
Our oldest daughter has had a rough couple of years. In the beginning of my blogging days around two years ago, I wrote about how I was worried about her, about how she is an anxious perfectionist who is also stubborn as hell and doesn’t express her feelings well, which is reminiscent of how I used to behave. My heart hurts for her, and I worried I’d made so many mistakes as a mom that I’d contributed to all of that in her. All I knew was that I needed to be there for her, with my whole heart open and vulnerable, listening and being a support for her. M and I have continued to share with her, to be open and communicative with her and encourage the same. We just want her to feel safe and happy and loved beyond measure.
Many months ago I alluded to something on my blog which tore apart my heart, and it really did. In our quest to help her with her anxiety, school and social issues, and issues expressing herself, we were trying everything we felt would give her the love and support she needed. Yet, we found out she’d engaged in self harm. It was the most deeply wounding thing I’ve ever experienced. I hurt for her, for that place she must have been and I couldn’t help. It seemed that even as we built bridges, some were being torn down. No matter how hard we tried, sometimes we missed the mark, or our efforts didn’t reach far enough. We just kept trying.
That was many months ago, and our communication and relationship has continued to grow and improve. If a bridge begins to fail, we rebuild or find a new route. We are so happy she has continued to mature in her ability to express herself as well.
In the meantime, just as she was feeling ready to tackle her freshman year, struggling to find her rhythm in the beginning (very difficult for her, especially since she’s a perfectionist), she found out her boyfriend slept with two of her friends. It was devastating, yet, on the outside, she behaved as if it wasn’t a big deal. Not only did she want to continue seeing the boy, but she wanted to handle the situation on her own. She wanted to work through the issue with them all on her own. Of course we want her to be independent and able to learn from life, but we don’t want her to be taken advantage of, or be treated poorly and sacrifice herself for other’s feelings when she’s clearly hurt as well. We worried she’d fall back to poor coping mechanisms, and finding the balance of communicating understanding, while also being firm in our expectations and being supportive, encouraging open communication, was very difficult. It still is.
It’s been an ongoing challenge to navigate the communication, finding what works and how to best model and support and meet her needs, but it’s one we give our all, as a team.