Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Letter to My Daughter


Dear Snotty,

Friday was your 13th birthday party. It should have been an occasion for much happiness, but instead, I spent the evening fighting back tears and then completely losing the battle and giving in to them.

Every year for the past three years or so, you have complained about the ideas I've had for your birthday parties. But, always after much ado, we come to an agreement and in the end, I manage to pull off a smashing affair.

So, this year I braced myself again for the storm and it swept in as usual, battering me and threatening to do me in. You wanted to take six friends to the mall and go shopping, eat dinner and then spend the night terrorizing a hotel room. (Where DO you come up with these ideas?!) I suggested something more low-key, like a party at our house. At the very mention of it, you went into whiny crying mode and sat on the couch with tears and mucus streaming down your face. A bit of overkill on your part, don't you think?

I explained to you that I'm fairly certain that none of your friends were expecting the grand hoopla you were envisioning, due to the fact that their parties which you attended, didn't even so much as include an actual invitation inviting you. Nor did they involve going anywhere, doing anything and only once included an actual cake!

So, we sat and planned together and came to the decision that you could invite five friends to come over after school. We would eat pizza, go see a movie at the theater, come home and decorate birthday cupcakes, and make ice cream sundaes with the works. To top off the evening, they could all sleep over.

Last Sunday evening, I stayed up late filling out detailed invitations for you to give out at school on Monday. Bedazzled invitations. Really cute ones that cost $2 each. Invitations in which I asked parents to please R.S.V.P. so that I could plan accordingly for food, movie tickets and travel. Invitations to which not one single parent bothered responding.

So, unbeknownst to you, I spent the week travelling from store to store hunting down the lime green and dark purple decorations you'd requested. The Duchess and I burned through a tank of gas going to hobby stores, party stores, malls and grocery stores shopping for the things I thought would make your party fun and memorable for you.

By the time you and your friends piled through the door after school on Friday, I'd already spent six hours of the day cleaning, baking, shopping and decorating.

As you stood with your friends in the kitchen, you asked if I could take Monica home before the movie. I was quizzical.

Monica? Why isn't Monica going to the movie with us? Oh...wait. I hadn't filled out an invitation for Monica. Monica was being sprung on me. So, now on top of having five teenagers in my care whose parents didn't bother taking sixty seconds out of their busy schedules to pick up the phone to call me and say, "Yes! My daughter can come and thank you for inviting her", I had a surprise and unplanned for sixth guest. No biggie. I know how to fly by the seat of my pants.

So, I smiled and sweetly asked if Monica had permission to go to the movie because if so, we'd love to have her come along. In response, you turned on your heels and headed up the stairs with your posse.

I stood in the kitchen for a moment. I wondered if you'd noticed the green and purple balloons everywhere, or all of the ribbons I'd curled, or the special cupcake stand I'd purchased especially for the occasion. I wondered if you'd noticed that I'd divided the kitchen into stations. One for cupcake decorating, one for ice cream sundae assembly and one for snacks and drinks. I wondered if you had one inkling of how many hours and dollars you'd just turned your back on.

Pizza arrived and you ate without a word to me. Your friends thanked me as they ate and they seemed to be having fun.

We piled into the car to go to the movie and when we arrived, as you'd requested, Mr. Right, The Duchess and I sat nowhere near you and your friends. Earlier in the week you'd insisted that The Duchess not even be allowed to go because you thought she'd beg to sit with you and your friends and ruin your night.

While I was at the snack stand purchasing drinks for we outcasts, your friends came up short on funds to make their purchases. So, I swooped in and bought them a giant tub of popcorn and drinks for all of you to share. They thanked me profusely and went happily back to their seats.

As I chauffeured you all home, I was never spoken to and grew weary of all of the whispering behind me, so I cranked up the radio a bit and entertained myself with some tunes.

Upon arrival at the house, you decided that it was time to decorate cupcakes. A few minutes in, I asked if anyone was ready for sundaes and a couple of your friends said that they were, so I started dishing out ice-cream. You got out of your chair and walked over to the sink where I was and said, "We're going to do sundaes in a few minutes. You can go."

A week's worth of running around, a bucket load of money spent, a day entirely devoted to making sure that things were just perfect for you...and I was being dismissed.

I'll admit that my middle aged hormones have not been completely behaving for the past couple of days, but I don't know if I can totally hold them accountable for the tears that welled up in my eyes.

When it was time for you to open your gifts and I was allowed back to take pictures, The Duchess excitedly asked you to open her gift. She'd picked it our herself, personally written and drawn on the card she'd picked for you, strong armed me that morning into buying a Sponge Bob Square Pants balloon to attach to it and now she was beside herself with anticipation. She ran over to stand by you so that as you opened your card she could show you how the bottom of it folded open and turned into a 3-D flowerpot and how the top of it looked like flowers. She told you excitedly of how she'd picked it out herself.

As you pulled the necklaces she'd picked for you out of their paper, you made a mumbled comment about them being nice and, "thank you." The Duchess walked around the table, climbed back up on her chair and said, "I thought maybe you would like me if I got them for you."

I actually had to put down my camera and hold on to the counter. My heart was breaking inside my chest. I looked at you and said, "Isn't that sweet? Do you have anything to say to your sister?" You just looked at me and said in your best Snotty voice, "I said thank you!"

And the tears won.

When you and your friends went to your room after you opened your presents, I spent an hour or so in the kitchen putting things away and cleaning. I calculated in my head the hours and money spent on your day. I thought about how terrible a parent I must be to deserve being ignored, unappreciated and dismissed. I thought about how it seems that no matter what I do, it never seems to be good enough for you.

By the time I'd tucked The Duchess into bed and told you and your friends for the last time that it was after midnight, "quiet down," my heart was heavy, my eyes were wet, and my head hurt.

I know that you are a teenager and that there are a million hormones racing through you and that you probably down deep inside somewhere resent me for divorcing your dad when you were five and that you think I'm a complete dork. I know these things, but it doesn't help much.

Sometimes the human being that is me, aches and cries over your rotten behavior. Sometimes the Mom that can be kicked around and abused gets cracks in her exterior and becomes susceptible to pain and heartache. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the insolent teenager in front of me was once the sweet little girl who wanted nothing more to sit on her mother's lap and snuggle up and read a book.

So, happy birthday, Snotty. Behind that clumpy mascara and the name brand shirts you insist on having, I know who is really there. And I wish that little girl, much much happiness.

Love,

Mom


17 comments:

Andrea said...

Oh my, I've been patiently waiting for this post. I'm there for you on this one because I completely understand since I could have written it myself. Just a few thoughts - you are not a terrible parent, your daughter is a hormonal teenager which makes her difficult to live with. And you're right - right now no matter what you do, it just won't be good enough. My dauther is a fair amount older than Snotty and it was just about a month or two ago that she said to me "thanks" for everything I had done for her over the years. She told me that although she didn't act like she appreciated any of it, she remembers every detail (has memories of) everything we ever did together. So keep on doing what you're doing. You'll get slapped around by her a bit (maybe alot) but she'll come back to you, I'm sure.

p.s. - I'll never forget the sleepover my daughter had for her 14th birthday. Seems she and girls finished off the bottle of wine in the fridge. Now, that was one for the books!

Missy said...

Wow! That was very therapeutic for me to read. I've had all those same thoughts and feelings with my teenage son, but never been able to put it on paper like that. It's good to know others go through all this same stuff....misery loves company, right?!

SJT said...

Ugh. My heart breaks a little reading this. My 2 year old is on her way. I know it deep in my heart. *sigh* YOU are a great mom. She will remember this with fondness later in life.

I was your daughter when I was 13. And now I appreciate my parents and what they did every day.

Amy said...

It's not easy is it ladies? I have a twenty year old, so I've experienced those teenage years before. I had her when I was twenty and didn't have a clue what I was doing. I've always held on to the hope that as my children have grown, so have I and that my growth as a parent will be evident in my children. Most days, I look at them and think, "Well damn. I haven't grown at all."

I look at The Duchess now and see her little 4 1/2 year old sweetness and wonder if she too will abandon me when she becomes a teenager. Right now I am best friend, hero and her number one lovey dovey partner in all things.

*Sigh* I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

veach st. glines said...

A new visitor to your site, I noticed that your profile page has a broken 'web page' link in the left column (it tries to send visitors to http://www.[yourinfo].blogger.com.).

I'd like to add, after reading your last 4-5 posts, that I kind-of feel sorry for you (even though I realize you aren't blogging to gain sympathy). Mr Right doesn't seem to be; Snotty really is, but (as you know) it's the age; The Duchess is royal...; you live your life for all of them - and none appreciate anything, ever.

This may not be your life, just the last week of it. But, I feel sorry when I read about how your family treats you.

Oh, yeah, one more thing...you blocked out your birthday, but didn't block the expiration date on the photo of your license. AZ's is valid until your 64th birthday...is my point. You should block your exp. date if you don't want your B-day known.

Jennie................ said...

Ouch. Being a mom is such a thankless job. The reasons you stated so eloquently are exactly why I MUST have time away from home where I am just Jennie - not mom, or Mrs anyone....just Jennie. For me its vital to my mental well being! But I miss them when I am away - but I think thats healthy! I miss the young Alisa...now we have Surly. Most times she is fine - but the surly times come more and more often these days. I try to treasure the good times, because they are not as frequent. I think I have it easier in that I have only one. I remember sweet shy Snotty...those were the days eh?

Amy said...

Veach - Thank you for stopping by and taking a peek at my blog.

1. I have no idea how to repair the broken link. I'm technically inept.

2. How very observant of you to catch the driver's license faux paux. It's my own little joke. After all of the hoopla at the DMV with them insisting that I provide a birth certificate, the idiots still managed to get my birthday wrong on my license. So, the expiration date in fact does not coincide with my actual date of birth.

3. I find it both terrifying and hilarious that what I'm writing can be interpreted in any way other than humorous. I'll tell you what my dear ol' mother used to say to me. "Amy...you're SO dramatic!" The world is my stage, Veach. Sometimes I make you laugh, sometimes I make you cry. But for hell's sake, don't ever feel sorry for me!

veach st. glines said...

Ok, I'll take it in the humorous vein that it is intended from now on.

As for fixing your broken link -
follow the following clicks on your own blog:
'view my profile' then 'dashboard' then 'edit my profile'. Once on the
edit my profile page, 2/3 of the way down is a line that says 'homepage url'. Replace what is currently there with your URL, which is http://amywarner68.blogspot.com/

Save that page and you will fix the link.

It will probably increase traffic to your site, because when people read a comment you wrote on another blog, they track-back to your profile and the first link they see is the broken one...now it won't be.

Amy said...

Veach - I guess I'm not as technically inept as I thought. I'm just a moron. I've tried to go in and repair that link multiple times in the past only to get there and look at the URL and think, "Well, it's right!" It wasn't. It was "blogger.com" not "blogspot.com." So, many thanks to you! It's all cleared up and working like a dream.

And again, thanks for stopping by.

Angela said...

When my oldest daughter turned 13, and she had just told me days before that she`d rather live with some other family than with ME, I decided we`d NOT have a big birthday party again this year, and so she did some gardening work instead and was quite happy. At least her friends wouldn`t have to see her embarrassing mother!
When her first baby was born, she asked me if I could take care of him for a whole half year, when he was 1/2 year old. So I figured that must have been trust! But the years from 13 to 18 were not always easy...cheer up, Amy, and wish her kids of her own one day!

Bee and Rose said...

My heart hurts for you just reading this...

These years are a challenge...I remember going through moments like this with my stepdaughter.

What a moving post!

Reya Mellicker said...

Puberty is not a pretty time for anyone.

Next year maybe you should back away from doing all the decorating and work. Let Miss Snotty be as much a part of it as you are.

Take a load off, darlin'. You don't have to make it perfect. In fact, you CAN'T make it perfect.

xxoo

Amy said...

Angela - You are a good Mommy. All I know about you proves it so. Thank you for your continued love and support.

Bee - Thank you for your empathy. I think the only times I feel at all sorry for myself is when the kids have trampled on me a bit. It feels so personal/!

Reya - This perfection thing is a real issue for me. I know I MUST get over it. I just always want things to be so right. I'm working on it, I swear. Thank you for your concern and for always be so supportive.

Meanma said...

I stumbled upon your blog and now read it regularly. I was laughing and crying with you. I soooo remember my teenagers doing the same things. Now, I'm a Meanma (note the spelling) and I can just sit back and wait until they come to me when their children do the same things to them. What goes around comes around. It may take a few years, but you'll have the last laugh later. Thank you for such a wonderful humorous way of looking at life. I enjoy your talent.

Amy said...

Meanma - Thank you so much for looking in on my blog and for commenting. I always enjoy hearing from people who have been previously, or are currently being tortured by their offspring. I even appreciate those who just stop in so they can point and laugh. Many thanks.

Angie said...

I don't have kids yet, so I've never been on your side of the table before, but I have been on Snotty's side of it - and reading your post makes me want to go apologize to my Mom for all the mean stuff I ever said to her.

Amy said...

Angie - It's odd, but even as I was writing this post I was thinking about what a snot I was as a teenager and about how absolutely horrid I was at times. I'm grateful my own mother didn't subscribe to the sometimes mammalian practice of eating her young. I'm sure I would have been at the top of the menu.