Hie! This is the second part of the short story, Je suis Jackiee, that I’m writing for the #Humor genre of my Writer’s Self Challenge. If you haven’t read Part I, you can find it here.
I woke up the next morning with a renewed sense of purpose. Sure things hadn’t gone too well with Vy last night but I was determined to turn it all around. I mean if The Flash can open a portal to Earth Two just by running around at, hmmm possibly a speed faster than a “lightining flash” (haha, don’t excuse the pun, it’s AMAZING!!), then I can certainly mend fences with my daughter.
I got out of bed and started on my daily chores. Carl had already left for work, despite it being a Saturday, no rest for the good doctor. Vy usually slept in on Saturdays and woke up late in the afternoon hungry as a bear and grouchy like crazy. I lectured English Literature occasionally at the local university but mostly during the week. I always had weekends free.
I finished my chores and grabbed a bowl of cereal sauntering over to the computer. I plonked down onto the chair and switched it on then logged onto my blog just as I took an especially heaped teaspoonful of rice crispies. Two seconds later I regretted taking that especially heaped teaspoonful of cereal as it landed on the computer monitor when I spit it out in shock at what I saw on my blog. I complained inwardly as I grabbed a nearby cloth and wiped off the food. I stared at the computer screen hardly believing what I was seeing. There were over a hundred comments on my blog from last night. I set my cup down and read the first one.
“Hie Jackiee. Welcome to the world of blogging. I loved your first post, especially the part about befriending all of your daughter’s facebook friends. That just killed me haha. I’m sorry about what you are going through with Vy but I’m sure with a little time, patience and effort, you’ll get to a good place with your daughter. Keep on fighting and blogging! I look forward to your next funfilled post.”
I was in awe. Someone actually liked my blog. Several someone’s in fact. A quick scan of the comments showed that most of them were similar to that first comment. One very long comment caught my attention and I skipped to it.
“Welcome Jackiee, my name is Miranda.I was touched when I saw your blog post. I am a proud mother of four, two boys-twins aged 21 now and two girls aged 18 and 10 and man they can be a hand full! Especially at a teenage age when they feel like they are all grown up and don’t need you fussing around them all the time.
I actually went though the exact same thing that you are going through with my twins when they were 16. I used to be so close to my boys. We would go everywhere together, they would actually insist on it. When my husband and I dropped them off at school, they would insist that I walk them to the school gate and hug and kiss them goodbye because they believed that life was short and family should show each other how much they love each other as much as they could whilst they still could. It warmed my heart. But then they turned 16 and all of a sudden things changed.
The first time I noticed it was when we were dropping them off at school on the first day after summer holidays and they ran out of the car and into the school gate without so much as a goodbye. I just chalked it up to excitement to be back at school with their friends but then it happened again the next day and the day after that and the week after . I would ask them each time about it and they’d spin some story about having a lot of work to do or not wanting to be late (even though we always dropped them off twenty minutes before the bell rang). After a month I gave up asking. It was just the same at home, the only time I would actually see my sons was at dinner time and only because I put in a rule that no-one eats any meal in their room. They spent so much of their time in their rooms or out with friends or something.
One day i got fed up and I demanded that they explain their behavior and when they told me I wished I hadn’t asked. They told me that they’re boys and hanging around your mum when you’re a guy is apparently ‘lame’ , ‘uncool’ and makes them look like ‘mummy’s boys’ and I always said stuff to their friends that was embarrassing- their words exactly. So in short, it just wasn’t ‘cool’ to even be seen anywhere near me and I embarrassed them. I was crushed and at first I thought I could fix it by changing myself so I could be less of an embarrassment to my sons and they would love me again and spend time with me. I tried using slang that I picked up occasionally on the telly but I always ended up saying the wrong things and embarrassing my sons even more (for example, one time I met them in town with a group of their friends and I walked up to them with all the confidence in the world and said “Hey dudes, what’s popping?” They all cringed and gave an inaudible response and later my sons told me that in some countries dude is actually a camel’s balls so people avoided using that particular word and I had just called their friends that to their faces. I was mortified to say the least). So much for ‘if you can’t get them to let you in, then make yourself cool enough to join them.’
So when that didn’t work, I started getting irritated and annoyed and I would yell at them and make impossible rules to force them to do things with me and I full on became a horrible person and an even more horrible mother.
My husband, like yours, also sat me down and told me I was trying way too hard and becoming something I’m not and essentially pushing them further away. He told me to just be their mother, a pillar of strength in their time of need, a friend who is always there to listen in good times and in bad and most of all a living reminder of who they are and where they come from because that’s one very important job for a mother.
So I thought to myself, how do I do all that? I made a list of all the things I was doing wrong as a mother and another list of the things I was supposed to do as a mother and then a last list of how I was going to achieve the things I had to do as a mother. These were the lists I wrote:
1. Not acting like a mother, trying to act like ‘one of the boys.’
2. Not putting much effort into being a good mother.
3. Not taking time to understand my children.
4. Using my authority as their mother to force them into things they don’t want.
5. Shouting at the children for silly little things that don’t even matter.
6. Taking my frustrations out on the children.
1.Always listening to my children.
2. Always being there for my children.
3. Taking time to study my children, get to know them better and understand them, not expecting them to conform to what or who I want them to be.
4. Giving them a choice in matters and discussing issues with them and refrain from using an ‘iron fist’ to force them into stuff.
5. Find some other ways to deal with my frustrations and not take them out on the children.
6. Never yell at them. When I need to reprimand them, I sit them down and talk to them properly and calmly until we come to an understanding.
From bad mothering to good mothering
1. Write a note to each of my children telling them that I wish them a good day and that I love them.
2. Go to each of their rooms and say goodnight to them before they sleep.
3. Tell them everyday that when they need me I’ll always be there.
4. Involve them in decisions concerning our home, even if it’s deciding what’s for supper or what flowers to plant in the garden.
5. Ask them about their day when they get back home from school.
6. Avoid yelling at them for every single thing and instead talk things through with them.
7. Stop trying to learn or speak slang with them or their friends.
8. Respect their space especially when it come to their friends.
9. Be willing to compromise with them.
This was basically all the stuff i wrote down and I used the third list to help me become a better mother. After a while, my sons started warming up to me and now we are the best of friends. Of course I don’t get to walk them to the gate and kiss them goodbye like before because we all agreed that maybe that was babying them a bit, so now they kiss me goodbye on my cheek as they step out of the car and everyone is happy.
So I just shared this to encourage you and tell you that it can be done. With a little determination and a lot of effort, your daughter can love you again the way she did before. That love doesn’t just disappear into thin air, it’s there deep down inside, waiting for you to help Vy dig it out and set it free. Good luck Jackiee, go get your daughter back.”
I was touched when I read Miranda’s comment, and also so deeply inspired and right then I knew what I had to do. I grabbed a paper and a pen and started writing;
“Step 1: Make a list….”