"Molly is not my parent!"
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
It didn't sting as much as I thought it would when my daughter said this for the first - and so far the only time. I had been telling myself for a while that this life would be full of, "I hate yous," and "You're not my mom." It just came sooner than I expected. Looking back now, it was very typical of her to throw painful zingers during conflict and other tough moments. Can you blame her?
Laurie and I had talked about how it can be tough on the kids when everyone is in town and under one roof. It was Christmas Eve and our home was a busy place. Grandparents, aunts, uncles cousins and a couple dogs. Oh, and we had just gotten engaged two weeks earlier! (You handled all this when you were just 8 years old too, right? Right.) When Ray got into a tiff and chucked a book at her cousin, it was time for a chat. Plus, Matt's sibling came to me and told me about the incident. So, there I was, not yet confident in my parenting, feeling the responsibility and expectation to fix things.
Well! When Matt and I went back to visit Rachel in her room, still flushing with anger, she was very clear that she did not want me present. "What is Molly doing in here? She is NOT my parent!" Matt explained calmly, "I didn't ask for her to be your parent. Rachel shouted emotionally, "Yes, you did!" I interrupted and walked out of the room sharing that sometimes daddy-daughter chats are the first step. Matt was feeling all the things. Sadness, frustration, anger, embarrassment maybe, but doubtful knowing my husband. He ended up leaving the room too saying she could stay there all night. Yikes!
Over the next hour or so different relatives kept going back to Rachel's room to try and turn things around no matter how hard Matt and I begged them to stay out it. Everyone wants to help - but Ray really needed some time to calm down. After I'd noticed it had been some time since anyone had tried to get through to her, I snuck away from Rob Your Neighbor and knocked on my daughter's door. Her voice sounded much better. I told her, "It's Molly, can I come in?" She agreed.
I put my arms around her and said, "Ray, you can be as mad at me as your want and I will still love you." She squeezed me tight and burst into tears saying, no, she wasn't mad at me, but that it's so hard when everyone is in town. (Laurie called it. Thank goodness I was prepared and could understand the root of her emotions in this moment.) I kissed her head and told her I can't imagine what she's feeling. I asked her to please just walk back into the living room and sit with me. "Can you do that? Will you sit with me on Christmas Eve?" She shook her head yes and we walked out of her room hand in hand. Minutes later Ray seemed to turn her attitude around and our family Christmas continued.
It's been almost a year a half since this event. Ray has told me she hated me, once since, over a summer poolside game of Categories. It was in front of my mom's side of the family and I was embarrassed. I tried to tickle her out of it, tell her I love her and push her in the pool. She din't bounce back right away but we got there.
Somewhere between, "Molly is my dad's friend, I think" and "I love you, mom" Rachel stopped throwing zingers. Her once record breaking stubbornness is nearly extinct ... and she and I are now allies. I'm her advocate and she is a dream-come-true kind of daughter. (Which I told her the night she shared with me that Matt might propose. See ... allies, I'm telling you.)