Recently, my husband and I had a heart to heart with my fifteen year old daughter. She was upset with me and laid it all out on the table.
She spelled out what I was doing wrong as a parent and as a person and how it bothered her. Why couldn’t I be like other moms? I read between the lines. I could feel my heart begin to crumble. As her disappointments and my shortcomings were laid out in front of me, my soul cowered under the weight. Like a World War II plane that’s been hit and is going down, “mayday, mayday!”
Every parent must come to terms with the fact that they are not a perfect parent.
On the surface there was truth in what she said. I was complaining too much, and being too judgmental. I needed to work on my attitude toward others and the world. I needed to have more love, more compassion, and more acceptance. However, there was a lot she didn’t know. She didn’t see the weight I carried or the emotional battles I fought every day.
My daughters saw what I allowed them to see. They only saw the tip of the iceberg. They didn’t know what my life was like before them. They didn’t know about the missing pieces in my soul from my past. They saw only what came out, unaware of what was kept in.
And then she asked this question, “Why can’t we be a normal family?” And there it was. The final blow. I was between a rock and a hard place.
In the words of Joyce from Stranger Things, “this is not a normal family.” I can relate.
I suffer from depression. I have sheltered my kids from this for most of their lives as most people with depression probably do. What choice does one have?
It is important to let kids, as they become young adults, see the humanness of their parents.
However, the last couple years as my kids have begun to mature into young adulthood, I have started letting them see behind the curtain a little bit. I thought it might prepare them for life. Especially if they are prone to depression. However, what I have shown them is still a small portion of what I carry.
How does a parent with depression raise a teenager and survive? How does a person who is already emotionally fragile take the arrows of a hormonal adolescent?
Our woundedness is laid bare when our kids become teenagers.
They don’t see my brokenness. They don’t see the child that felt lonely and rejected. They don’t understand depression. Not many people do.
My daughter doesn’t know the details of my story. She doesn’t know my pain. And she can’t. She won’t. I won’t put that on her. However, what comes out of me is partially a product of my pain, loss, and childhood issues. It isn’t an excuse. It is an explanation.
She doesn’t know how hard I have to fight, or how high I have to climb everyday just to get to where everyone else starts out.
The tension is letting my teenager get more of a glimpse of the real person behind the mom—the real, flawed person. The tension is knowing that she can only have half of the story. And knowing that she will judge based on her limited understanding.
Let’s face it, being judged hurts. Especially if its coming from your children, your kids in whom you have poured your soul. Those for whom you have sacrificed everything. They know none of this. That is the sacrifice of parenting.
I have to be the grown up. I have no choice but to deal with the pain of my past and deal with the pain of the judgement of my kids at the same time. And do it all without blaming or explaining. Only through God’s strength is this possible. Without Him I would crumble.