Heartbreak Hotel

The other day I had the distinct pleasure of being able to say the following words to my teenager with a straight face:

“You had a healthier emotional upbringing than that.”

The conversation started because her on again off again boyfriend is back, and the girl he dated in the interim is none too happy.  She caused quite the ruckus in school a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I’m not saying my daughter is the picture of mental health.  She is, after all, my offspring.  But the other girl?  Can you say ‘borderline personality disorder’?  Hey, it takes one to know one.

My heart went out to her, really.  Which made me try to elicit some compassion from my daughter, or at least some graciousness in her victory in this love war.  But for some reason, even with all her vast life experience, she just can’t manage it.  Huh.

Anyway, I keep thinking about what I said to my daughter.  Do I really believe her upbringing was healthier than mine?  Sometimes I don’t.  It certainly didn’t start out that way, at least.  And it seems the things I most wanted to protect her from are already in play.

I don’t know how much of a chance I ever had as a parent.  And the only thing that keeps me hopeful is hearing that sometimes, just wanting to do the right thing can get you halfway there.

I have told her, perhaps too many times, that I don’t want her to be like me.  I don’t want her to go through what I did.  And she tells me it’s her greatest desire.  To not be like me.

I tell her that sometimes,  it’s mine too.

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4 Responses to “Heartbreak Hotel”

  1. My greatest desire when I was young was also to not be like my mom. Now I’m more like her than I wanted to be – it’s hard to prevent some things. It sounds like your daughter would do well to be like you – but it’s something one doesn’t usually realize until later in life.

  2. I have been thinking about this since yesterday, deciding what I wanted to say. And here it is: not knowing everything, or even too much, about your upbringing, I do know a big difference in your parenting that is key. It’s AWARENESS. It’s trying to SEE and navigate your own flaws, it’s at least WANTING to be better, even if that doesn’t always happen. Somehow I think you have much more of that than your own parents had (oops, hope your mom isn’t snooping here!)

    You screw up but your heart is full of love for your children, and you do a lot for them and you don’t beat them. They are already miles ahead of many other kids. xo

  3. This really hits home for me Jennifer. (I have a 16 year old too) What I tell myself every day is that humility is the best gift we can give our kids. Screwing up is something I do daily, but with the “awareness” Melissa referenced, we are working hard to get as parents of this generation, we can better say “I’m sorry”. If I had heard that more as a young girl, I think my childhood would have been a hell of a lot better. Boy, are those days of self-righteous “I can do it better” over, but this journey is all about humility isn’t it? And most importantly it’s our humanity that we have to accept and show to our kids.

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