Giving Each Other A Break


Copyright: Igor Zakowski /

I jinxed myself. Friday night we were entertaining another family at our house. My daughter and I were affectionately snuggling and hugging. One of our guests (the mom, also a mother to a daughter) made a comment about how she hopes to one day be as close as we are; and in response my daughter or I said that although we may fight, I make it a point not to yell or raise my voice at her. JINX!

The very next day–Saturday morning–barely twelve hours later, she was getting ready for a party. A bat mitzvah for a friend so there’s a service followed by a reception with dancing and general adolescent revelry. She was panicking. She hated her dress, her shoes…everything was bad. If I had stopped to recall my twelve-year-old-self in those moments, I would have remember nothing, no rational argument–let alone an irrational and frustrated one–could have talked me out of this fashion-crisis. It’s a combination of peer-anxiety, hormone-filled-angst and a flavor of self-consciousness only a middle-school girl could know. But today I have a different kind of angst: Mom-angst. I want to fix it, whatever “it” happens to be. I want her to be confident, happy and poised before she has to leave…in twenty minutes.

So I started rifling through my closet…and my shoe rack. Not the answer. Let me fast forward fifteen excruciating minutes later: we are both sweaty, frustrated and annoyed and I have reached the end of my rope.

So, what does a tween do when she is sweaty, frustrated and annoyed? She says something snarky under her breath, just quiet enough so that her mother can’t hear it.

What does her sweaty, frustrated and annoyed (and now jinxed) mother do when she hears something snarky muttered in her general direction? She asks her daughter to repeat herself, and when her daughter doesn’t…she yells.

Yes, I yelled. And as soon as I did it, I wanted to take it back–swallow those seven seconds into my throat and fill the pit that occupied my stomach. Anyone who says yelling is a release needs to qualify the circumstance. That was no release, that was pure remorse.

Before she left, and about two minutes after it happened, I went to her and apologized. I took full responsibility for my behavior–I did NOT say it was because she frustrated me, my yelling was MY fault–and told her it was unacceptable. I told her how sorry I was and that I would do everything in my power to make sure I never did that again. But it might. I’m not jinxing myself again.

Here’s what I learned:
– Don’t pour gasoline on the fire: When faced with a panic-stricken offspring, diving in and adding to the fervor is the absolute WRONG thing to do.
– Resist the urge to “fix-it”: I know, I know, I should know this already… And I do, sort of. Ok, not really. The best thing I can do for my children right now is support them in their journey to find solutions to smaller, more manageable challenges so that they are ready later in life for the bigger ones.
– Absolute statements can be dangerous.

Mother & daughter exhausted, but made-up…at last.

Later in the afternoon, I picked her up from the party. In the taxi she looked over at me and said “Mom, I’m really sorry I lost my cool with you before too. I love you” and she gave me her fist to bump. We made a pact sitting in that backseat that we would do our best not to argue but when we do, we would give each other space when we are frustrated (or sweaty and annoyed). And when we mess-up–and we will–we’ll give each other a break. Because we love each other. And then we hugged. I liked that a lot more than the fist bump.

Related Links:
Dear Me: A Gift To My Younger Self
Giving An Apology
Gifts From Mistakes
Celebration Ideas For Entering Womanhood
Photo Fun Birthday Party


8 thoughts on “Giving Each Other A Break

  1. Julie says:

    Wow! Loved this! Sounds a lot like me and my daughter’s relationship. The times we fight are rare but no less dramatic. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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