I was reading a post I wrote less than a year ago, about how difficult my relationship with my older daughter was.

I entered into an apparent regression of cooperation, of organizational skills, of following several steps without the work of persuasion or reminding him.

A persistent state of dissatisfaction triggers all kinds of frustration reactions for me. I went from encouragement, to letting the emotions take their course, to trying to understand what is hidden behind them, to drawing a line and saying done. I don’t want to hear dissatisfaction and pessimism anymore.

And teenagers and pre-adolescents find their circle of safety by returning to those who care and protect them, whom they love, to receive validation, that they are still seen, appreciated, loved. It’s just that they ask for validation in increasingly unpleasant ways. Like a cactus that begs to be hugged. The circle of safety reminded me of his motto: let us parents remember that we are bigger, stronger, wiser and better.

I deeply know how to nurture positive feelings towards my child who pushes all my buttons, and who seems to regress because the things I used to control I have to let go of so that she can learn to manage them. And it hurts. And it’s frustrating, and she asks for her freedom with one hand and asks for help with the other.

Wiser and better. It makes all the difference to the fact that we really are bigger and stronger. Our authority builds and strengthens them to the extent that we remember that we are called to be wise and good (kind).

It surprises me, to remember how it was and how much we’ve come along since. I knew life is cyclical and we are never stuck in one place for too long, especially as I make an efort, I adapt, I reset, I let go of my own expectations and I believed I can do anything. Well, this relationship with my eldest tested my resolve, my faith. It was wearing me down and I stated to loose hope that there is a way out. I mean, you need two people who want to be in a relationship to have a relationship. What I didn’t apply too well is the knowledge that I do set the tone. That my child will always long for connection, no matter the age, but they may have lost their way or they may have lost hope as well. So I need to be the one with more wisdom, more experience, more kindness and a stronger faith that we can find our way to each other again. I softened. A lot. The concept of willing myself to like my kid again, remembering how it was, remembering the ties we enjoyed each other so much, that was a new idea but worth exploring. I would find old videos of us having fun, her being sweet and funny and confident and kind. I would show them to her as she heard her young voice in the videos, and I think that triggered something in both of us. Then I would use more lavishly words of affirmation. I think in our parenting crusade we forget to err on the grace side, on the “too much” kindness side. I think she started to doubt that we like her. Frankly, I started to doubt I like her …attitude. But my love for her never wavered. 

At the end of summer, we had some one on one time, and some success with her scoliosis progress, and I made an efort to speak the truth in kindness, to remind her of my love and that I do like her company. But she also quickly changed her tune. She started hugging me daily. (She hadn’t done it like that in years). I would hold her and kiss her head and whisper hope in her ears. She became more responsive. Like she enjoyed and pursued our company more. 

Two days ago I was waiting for her sports teacher to get her out of school an hour early. The kids were restless all around, doing the social thing, showing off, talking in groups, watching me. I just cut my hair short in a cool way. Hands in my pockets. My mind elsewhere, but as I made eye contact with J. She looked so serious. I smiled and winked at her and we shared a moment. She relaxed and smiled at me. 

I feel like it’s a season of being a team. Of her still thinking I’m cool. And our company is still valuable. She has had her freedom of socializing, riding the bus with friends, making friends at Sunday school, in camps, at music school… she has options and she is social, but she still likes to come home to our safe haven, to enjoy our conversations our meals our games, our movie nights. She listens well. Both of them do. I so appreciate this because the defiance in not listening well was very triggering to me. It irritated me as it felt purposeful even though I realize a lot of it was selective listening because too much was going on in her mind and around. 

Grateful beyond words for a season of connection and peace. May we fully charge our batteries at this time. May we endure with more grace the inevitable future seasons of testing. May we remember.