Like Mother, Like Daughter
Like Mother, Like Daughter
I'm all about silver linings these days. I may have been fired from my job and kicked out my old life, but I've realized that doesn't have to be all bad. Not only am I getting to spend more time with my brother and best friend, I'm getting to spend more time with my daughter, Gretchen.
I got pregnant with Gretchen right after high school and I was determined to be a cool mom. Gave her a lot of space, let her do her own thing the way I'd wished my mom had done. And it totally worked. Gretchen was a complete angel. I mean, I'm pretty sure she was. Truth be told, our housekeeper Lupe probably spent more time with her than I did, but that's changed now that I'm home a lot more. Now it's all me, and I finally have the chance to be the parent I always wanted to be. Which is turning out to be way harder than I thought it'd be.
I was not snooping — I repeat, not snooping — when I just happened to find a note in Gretchen's pocket saying she was in trouble for fighting at school. That's when things started to go downhill and this whole parenting thing started to feel like a lot of work.
Despite my new "hands-on" parenting policy, I found myself sitting in the vice-principal's office. The same office I'd sat in all those times in high school. It was total déjà vu, minus my Doc Martens and "Rachel" haircut. Unfortunately for Gretchen, the vice-principal not only remembered me, but he also held a grudge. Apparently, he was still ticked off about the time Dina and I allegedly filled his desk with fish, and he was not in the mood to cut us any slack.
So Gretchen was suspended and I got paranoid and wondered what else was my former little angel was up to. I'm not the only one this has happened to, right? Some of you out there must've promised yourselves you wouldn't become like your mother, who spied on you and drove you crazy, only to find yourself rooting through the pockets of your 16-year-old's dirty laundry looking for, well, her dirty laundry. It was not a proud moment, but I was desperate and needed some help. So, I turned to Amy from Chicken Soup for the Soul and she gave me some great advice: "There truly is magic between mothers and daughters and over time, we mothers find ourselves emulating our daughters." Then I decided to try a few new "hands on" parenting techniques to see if I'd have any better luck:
Have realistic expectations — I expect her to get straight 'A's, love hanging out with me, and appreciate everything I do for her. Is that too much to ask?
Communicate - I was definitely worried that this whole me getting fired, losing our house, moving away from all her friends and sleeping in my childhood bedroom thing might be kind of tough on her, so I kept asking Gretchen if she was okay and she said she was, but I didn't believe her. So I asked again and again until she slammed the door in my face. That's communicating, right?
Set boundaries — I tried. I really did! When she got in trouble at school, I laid down the law. I made sure she knew I meant business.
Then I found her in a...compromising position.
Yup, that's the kind of mother/daughter moment you dream about — catching your daughter with a boy for the first time.
So, yelling didn't work, spying didn't work, and trying to be her best friend didn't work. But I figured maybe, if Gretchen and I were so much alike, I actually did know how to reach her. In the end, I simply confirmed her biggest fear — that if she didn't change her ways, she'd end up just like me.
Change yourself — To be honest, I skipped this one.
I turned out to be pretty amazing and Gretchen could do worse.
~ Jennifer Doyle
Jennifer Falls, Wednesdays 10:30/9:30c on TV Land