Band-Aids don’t work anymore on my kids. They can put on their own now. What I am trying to fix now is unfixable, and it is hard.
As a mamma for almost twenty blessed years, I always want to make things better. It is what I have been doing since they were little itties. And it is what every mom wants to do, take away the pain. All of it.
But as my girls get older, every year it gets harder to do this. No longer can I simply wipe away tears or slide down the slide at the park with one of my girlies on my lap and throw our heads back and laugh. No longer is the worst part of the day when the ice cream dripped on a new shirt, or we by accident stepped on an ant and cried because it died.
Now things are harder. The slide is now a vicious spiral and ice cream “gives me pimples,” and they don’t even have time to notice a small ant.
And teenagers are mean. And social media causes more pain than pleasure. And my daughters are contemplating big life decisions, trying to get into dream colleges, having their heart broken or not making the team that they dreamed of being on, or are being bullied, excluded, picked on. Not to mention the hours of homework and pressure to perform. And did I mention teenagers are mean?
And I can’t fix it. Any of it. But damn I try. And every time I try, every single time, I think I make it worse. Not better. Because I do not have the patents, experience, materials that Band-Aid brand has. I just have a heart. And oh, my heart is big. It is so full of love for these girls that I over-parent. I over-talk. I over-fix. And this just ends up in me not fixing anything.
And afterwards, after my daughter has left the room, or told me I made something even worse, I cry. Big crocodile tears, because all I wanted to do was help. And I failed.
But I am learning. I am learning that every time I “made things worse,” do you know what I did? I opened my mouth. I tried to offer a solution, advice, an answer, EVERY SINGLE TIME.
“Why don’t you do this?”
“What if you did that?”
or, even worse,
“It’s ok honey.” Because sometimes, it’s just not ok.
And that’s not what they needed. All they needed every time was my ears, my hug, my “I’m so sorry honey.” It sounds so simple, so easy. But when I see my daughter hurt, bullied, sad, out comes Mamma Bear, up comes my protective armor and BAM- in comes Mrs. Fix-it with her huge hammer and an unwanted suggestion. Or unsolicited advice. Or criticism of the friend/boyfriend/coach/whomever that hurt them.
“What a jerk!”
“You don’t need people like THAT in your life!”
Ugh. Shut up Kristy. Zip it. BE QUIET! NOT HELPFUL. AT ALL.
I tell myself this over and over and over.
SHHHH. Silence is more powerful than words. Hugs heal. Just listen. For goodness sake don’t criticize their best friend. And oh Lord, NEVER the boyfriend!
I know what I need to do now. Does that mean I will do it? Can I put Mamma Bear into hibernation, like, forever? I don’t know. But I am going to try harder.
Oh my Angel daughters, forgive me. Forgive my fixing when you don’t need repairs. Forgive my mouth when you need my ears. Forgive me for trying to find a Band-Aid when you might not be bleeding. I am trying. I understand what I need to do. Please be patient with me while I learn this lesson, but please, please, please, don’t stop coming to me because I am always here, always. And even if I don’t say the right thing, I love you more than life itself and I will hug you harder than anyone will every hug you.
And to my fellow moms of teens, I am sending love to you and if any of you have advice for me, please send it. Or stories of commiseration! I always love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if anyone just simply needs an actual BAND-AID, I have a lot of them in my pantry. C’mon over! Easy-peasy, that fix.