Some shifts are planned. You KNOW your life will change drastically when the shift occurs. AND you know, roughly, when that shift will occur: The birth of a baby. The date of a cross-country move. The end of a job.
But many shifts come out of the blue. You think you got this parenting thing all figured out and then BAM! The ground shakes, the earth moves and nothing is ever the same again. Without warning or notice. The. Worst.
We are currently experiencing a change so drastic and different that was expected, but also came on so rapidly and with completely no notice.
My daughter turned 13.
And I KNOW you are thinking:
- Oh but you KNEW this was coming, didn’t you?
- Haven’t you listened to anything ever written about parenting teens?
- Weren’t you a teenager once yourself?
And the answer to all that is YES, I did. But I guess I didn’t expect the teenage-ness to happen so suddenly, dramatically, and consistently.
On her 13th birthday, I SWEAR my daughter made the ground shake with such a vengeance that the widest and deepest canyon formed between her and the rest of the family. She was suddenly on the other side of the world from us — she had gone from the enthusiastic, happy-go-lucky, talkative child to the cynical, somber, sullen teen. Literally overnight.
And I tried to get her back across to us in all the ways: Calm conversation. Controlled anger. Ignored behaviors. None of these pulled her back.
But still, that chasm remained.
So what to do when the obstacle to your teen is deep and wide? Well, my friends, you put on your best traveling gear, strap the rest of the family on your back, and try to meet the child half (or almost all) the way. You attempt to move the rocks that just won’t budge. You push your way through the darkness and you keep going and going and going — even when it seems like you are never going to get there. You do all that you can to get to them, despite all odds and everything working against you.
Because, eventually, you will. If you don’t give up. If you don’t stop trying.
You will see your sweet child again. It may be for a quick moment before the earth shakes again. Or it may be for an extended period, while you enjoy a glorious season believing that life has returned to all sunshine and rainbows. And then another shake, and she is gone again.
I have heard and must believe, that eventually, the world DOES return to normal. The ground no longer moves and causes rifts. And you can walk side-by-side through life again.
But until that day finally comes, my promise to her (and to her little sister who will inevitably cause the same tremors), is that I will continue to attempt to reach her. Even when it seems impossible. I will never, ever give up. And once together, I will savor the views — always!