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Aug 17

I’m looking at adolescence like infancy

You know how there are parents who really aren’t great at infants?  Not that they don’t love their children all the time, but there are ages and stages that are harder than others.  One stage that always seems to be considered harder is the early early infancy.  But, honestly, that’s kind of my favorite.  I’m not saying it isn’t challenging, because of course it is.  No sleep, 24 hour nursing sessions.  Spit up and dirty diaper – there are a lot of down sides.

But adolescence is worse.  Because there’s none of those problems, and when Jessie wants to hang with me (which she still does a lot, thank God), she’s freaking fun.  She’s smart, has a great sense of irony, and she’s really, really funny.  She’s insightful and generous, and I love it when she’s not defensive and irritable and angry with me.   We like the same music still, and we have enough overlap in television and even book choices (YAY for books!) that we can always still connect over that.

But then there’s the vomit and poop side of adolescence.  The anger and frustration, and complete inability to communicate when things are bothering her.  The bitter sarcasm and rolling eyes are the no sleep side – because it just makes everything so much harder.  And instead of being constantly needed with nursing, there’s the “Just leave me alone!” and “Get out of my room!”  I can’t fix it all anymore by just being there.

I don’t like this.  I miss my little girl – because she just loved me all the time.   She didn’t get furious with me, and demand that I give her time and space to calm down.  She found solace and comfort by crawling into my lap – and being able to soothe her, to listen to her and make it better – I didn’t know, not really, how awesome and wonderful that was until it stopped working.  I’m still her mom, I can still make it better, but now, frequently, we have to go thru a half hour screaming match until her defenses come down and I’m able to actually connect with her.  She can make me angrier than anyone I’ve ever met, and that freaks me out.   She’s scary smart and knows exactly what buttons to push to make me nuts, and I can’t help responding to her like she’s an adult sometimes.

This is hard – and I’m not good at it at all.  With Jessie, I’m constantly a new mom, and every stage introduces new challenges and new rewards.  And with Jessie, especially Jessie, the relationship is so intense, so intimate.  She’s my oldest, and I think because my relationship, as the oldest child, with my mother is so different from that of my siblings, I was geared to think of mine with Jessie’s as different.  Not that I love her more than the others, because I don’t.  But there’s something about my relationship with her… it’s raw.  It’s emotional and connected and vulnerable.  With Sam and with Julie – I love them just as much.  I feel just as connected – but I’m a better mother to them because I learn so much from mothering Jessie.

I’m hoping, that like early infancy, I’ll look back on this stage and just remember the good things.  Like the smiles and first words – I’ll remember the shopping trips, singing along to the radio.  Baking together and long walks.  Because there is so much beauty to this stage with her.  She’s growing up so fast, learning things and questioning everything, when it’s not terrible, it’s wonderful.  Adolescence is like infancy all over again.  I just wish I felt more like I knew what I was doing.

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