Parents Teach Forgiveness, But Sometimes It’s Hard to Practice What You Preach

ForgivenessIt’s Ash Wednesday, a time to repent and get your spiritual game on track for Lenten season. It’s kind of hard for me to focus this year because things have been pretty tense in my household for the past couple of weeks, the longest an issue has ever had a chokehold on our little family since Girl Child was born. It started when I did a random search of her cell phone and found out, among other things, that she had called a boy at 4 in the morning — on the cell phone I bought and pay monthly for — and was exacerbated by the fact that I had peeled myself out of bed at 3 to trudge to the laundromat and wash her funky, filthy clothes while she was doing it.

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It’s part of my scroll of responsibilities as a mother, so I don’t mind. I do mind, however, that she’s trying to make secret love connections when 1) she’s been warned not to call him period, 2) she had no business being up calling anybody at that hour, 3) I think this particular boy is a whole lot of trouble, and 4) she had a real cavalier, unapologetic attitude about her little stunt. To top it all off, I found a picture of them kissing. The fallout has since spiraled out of control and I would need a book, not a blog post, to tell the whole story with all of its twists and turns. But the bottom line is this: she thinks she’s mad at me, but I am also mad at her. And I’m having a hard time getting over it.

I can almost hear the chorus of gasps from self-righteous mothers now. Judge away.

For the past two weeks, I’ve had time to simmer and stew, which is unlike me. I get upset, I get in my feelings, I get over something in a few hours, sometimes less than that. This time, I'm in a precarious position of forgiving my daughter — for things she’s said about me to her father (and a heap of other people, I’m sure), for things she said to me not in the heat of the moment, but in the calm of her vehement dislike for me. There were times that girl has looked at me like she flat out hated me and others when I overheard her ranting on the phone with a family member about how much she hates it here. Every word, every snarl, every eye roll has cut me to my core.

If this was a guy who hurt me like this, I would dump him. If it was a friend, I would cut them off. But it's not. It's my child. This whole experience has uncovered a well of untapped emotion, feelings I apparently keep neatly tucked away without even realizing it. I consider myself to be pretty self aware, conscious of my shortcomings, in touch with my flaws, but this anger is new and fresh. I feel betrayed, partly because I feel blindsided by her sudden change in attitude, partly because she was in essence leading a double life while she boldfaced lied to me every day we were playing, joking, and laughing. In other words, she was being a typical teenager.

Parents are held to a high standard, as we should be. But I can't pretend like I don’t have feelings, too. I know, in my head, that it’s not about me and my emotions. It’s about her. So I’m deep in prayer, asking not to be hardened or angry or aloof, because when pushed I tend to shut down emotionally. I've always thought about it the other way around — kids forgive their parents — but now I'm kind of stuck in a place where I'm trying to rise above recent events and forgive my kid. I’m supposed to be teaching her how to handle these kinds of situations, both by example and by instruction. I’m trying and I believe I will, but it’s hard.

Have you ever found it hard to get over something that your kid did?

 

Image via ^@^ina (Irina Patrascu)/Flickr

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