I know the day I teetered on the edge of change. My emotions tumbled inside, and I thought for a few seconds of morphing into my mother.
Not that my mother is a bad person. Quite the opposite. She’s the best person I know, but a more emotional person you will not find. I’m analytical. Logical. The first to say, “Let’s figure this out.” One of my favorite Beatles songs was “We Can Work It Out.”
As a teenager, arguments with my mother grew more frequent and intense. To my dismay, she could engage me every time. I had a bedroom in the finished basement of our ranch house, and I would stand at the bottom of the steps with Mom at the top, both of us screaming, our words echoing through the stairwell.
When I had my own daughter, I vowed we would never have the same kind of relationship my mother and I had. It helped that my child and I seemed evenly matched in temperament. That is, until she hit puberty. Overnight, my even-tempered sweetheart turned into a volatile volcano. Anything I said or did caused eruptions, and left me trembling.
One day I came home, said something inane to my daughter, and we were off and running - our voices raised, our tempers rising. I needed to let the dog out through our back patio door, and even while trying to argue my point, I slid the glass door to the side. Before I realized what happened, my daughter had pushed me out onto the deck, and closed the door behind me.
So there I stood. Now what? I stared through the glass into my daughter’s face – her eyes huge, her face registering disbelief, probably mirroring my expression.
Memories of the endless arguments I had as a teenager flooded my mind. The very thing I feared was happening.
If ever there was a time when respect for me as her parent needed to develop, it was at this moment. Stepping into the endless whirl of arguing and intimidation would only make my role as her parent more difficult. Besides, judging from the ease with which she had pushed me out the door, I’d say my daughter could whip me!
Then the absurdity of the situation hit me. I started laughing, and laughed until tears flowed.
When my daughter saw me doubled over, she opened the door, and I opened my arms. As we held each other, I spoke to her about how, even though I understood how her hormones had her in an uproar physically and emotionally, I still expected her to treat me with respect. I shared the vow I had made when she was born. I would not be repeating history. She tearfully apologized for her behavior.
We had many more tense moments, but I did not play into her attempts to engage me. I kept my wits about me, kept my voice low, and kept her respect, too.
As I matured, I realized it wouldn’t kill me to show more emotion at times. Aging sometimes brings new dynamics to old relationships. My mom has become more reflective over the years, and we get along swimmingly now. My daughter is now a young adult, and we have a wonderful relationship. Thank God! Being thrown out of the house by my own child is an experience I never want to repeat.