Listen, Limit, Listen

I sat there thinking how Mother’s Day was an hour away, I would be getting up at 7 and driving to South San Francisco with my daughter and right now I am probably the absolute LAST person she wants to be with. Sigh. A Mother’s Day to look forward to.
Photo (C) Cris Watk 2005

My 15-year-old daughter hardly ever cries.  It concerns me, especially now that I know how healing it is.  Well, thanks to some limit setting and listening,she got a good half-hour cry cuddled next to her dad and I got a good cry as I read the loving letter she wrote me for Mother’s Day.  A double whammie!

My daughter is playing spring basketball with a sports club for the first time, practices twice a week and games every Saturday and Sunday.  It is worth it but it makes for a pretty hectic schedule.  It takes up the bulk of our weekend, even Mother’s Day.  Well, the day before Mother’s Day we were in South San Francisco for two games that were 4 hours apart, so we were there for the day.   During the break I bought her a prom dress and shoes (important detail for later).

She went to hear a friend sing in a concert directly after the second game and at about 10pm I got a call.  She was on her way home and wanted to know if she could go over to her boyfriend’s house when she got home.  I said it was too late, especially since we had been gone all day and had to leave the house by 7:30am for a 9 am bball game and she needed to get some sleep.  She began arguing and I calmly stood my ground and said we would finish our conversation when she got home.

She walked in the door 45 minutes later and I got a major ‘stink eye’. She stormed into her room, only to come out again to gruffly beg the issue.  I continued to say ‘no’ and said that it made sense that she would be disappointed but it wasn’t going to happen.  More  ‘stink eye’ with an added ‘dagger eye’.  I was sitting on the sofa calmly looking up at her. It was me and ‘dagger eye’, silently in a stare down.  I was putting out my limbic love in a big way, resisting the old argument (“You committed to this bball, we have paid for it and you need to be serious about it and get sleep…blah,blah.blah…Do NOT talk to me with that tone or look at me like that…blah, blah, blah).  All of those words of ‘wisdom’ that only make things worse, that I have said before, were nowhere to be heard.  Instead I kept as loving and understanding a look on my face and looked into her big, beautiful, blue, angry eyes.  She stormed into her room.

I sat there thinking how Mother’s Day was an hour away, I would be getting up at 7 and driving to South San Francisco with my daughter and right now I am probably the absolute LAST person she wants to be with.  Sigh.  A Mother’s Day to look forward to.

Surprise!  Something else happened.  I went to bed.  At about 3am I got up to go to the bathroom and when I got back in bed I found a piece of notebook paper folded by my pillow.  It said, ‘Mom” with a little heart on the front in my daughter’s handwriting.  I began reading and crying.  It was a full page acknowledging that waking up early was probably not the best way to spend Mother’s Day, thanking me for coming to all of her games and how much it meant to her, apologizing for how she acted the night before, thanking me for buying her a prom dress even though she is so picky, acknowledging that the ball costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time but how much it means to her that we are supporting her in a sport she loves, saying she knows she can be a pain in the ass and she is sorry. “I love you and I appreciate everything you have done for me.  Thank you so much for being my mom.  I love you mom. Happy Mother’s Day.”

WOW.  The gift of a lifetime.  I was blown away.  My heart was bursting.

In the morning I shared it with my husband and he told me what happened after I went to bed.  My daughter’s boyfriend drove over, she went out and talked by the car for a bit, came inside, cuddled up next to dad and cried for half an hour.

No talking.  Crying, sitting close, a daddy kiss on the top of her head and listening. I now understood how my miracle love letter came to be.

– a Parenting by Connection mom in California

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