Moms with Teens

My name is Erin and I am ... the mother of a 13 year old.
November 15, 2012 at 1:03 PM

I'm jumping right in with a long post. Apologies in advance. Not all of my posts will be this long, I promise.

I feel like a terrible mother. Sky and I have always been so very close up until this last year and a half or more. I left her father and she came with me. Our marriage was horrible and he was not so good to her most of the time. Not so good to either of us and she understood when we separated and she wanted to come with me. I couldn't even imagine it going any other way.  This was back on 2008. She was in the 4th grade and 9 years old.  I was always so involved in school and with her teachers. I was her girl scout troop leader and we did everything together all the time. We had our girl's days once every other week where we would disappear for the whole day and go shopping and have lunch together.

When we moved out and into our own small apartment it was hard. It was just me and we had little to no money. Times were incredibly tough for us. They were terrible between her dad and me and not that good for her and her dad. She never wanted to go spend much time with him and when she did she would text me (once she had a phone) to please come and get her. It was heart wrenching.

I started dating and things were a mess where that was concerned. I was laid off from work and going through a horrible depressive time that lasted 6 months. During those 6 months I was not emotionally available to her the way I should have been. I was sad and volatile and not taking very good care of either one of us. I wasn't involved in her school any longer. I woke up to take her to school and then slept until it was time to go get her in the afternoon.

Now she's 13. I am in a steady and loving relationship with the best thing (aside from her) that has ever happened to me. We all live in a house together. Her father now has a girlfriend who lives with him and he's calmed down and changed a lot. I am no longer depressed and things are very stable financially, but I believe that because of my mistakes over the last 2 years Sky has drifted further from me than I ever expected. Her relationship with her dad is now a very good one and a large part of that is because I wouldn't let him just disappear they way he threatened to all the time.  I pushed for them to develop something - anything at all. And they have. Now she loves him to death and she doesn't like me very much.

So much of it has to do with her being 13 and "at that age" - I know this. But I can't help but think it's been made worse by the decisions I made. Decisions that I consider mistakes because I was depressed and couldn't see how much some things were hurting her.  I was trying so hard to find the self that I had lost during my marriage to someone who was so terrible to me. I let her fall by the way side while I struggled.

We argue now. Argue over rules and respect. She gets along very well with her dad's girlfriend, but doesn't seem to want to accept my boyfriend. Part of that is because (I think) she feels like he's taken me away from her. I am trying so hard to bridge this gap between us and foster communication and to get things back to the way they were.  She is with me primarily and with her father every other weekend so I'm the enforcer. I'm the one who makes her do her chores and her homework and take a shower and go to bed on time. I'm the one who says no electronics after 8pm. I'm the one who puts her on restriction if she can't get out of bed on time in the morning. She admits that we aren't as close and that she feels like if she talks to me about how she's feeling she'll just make me angry or sad. So I've changed things in order to try and make her more comfortable talking to me. She shows signs of being so frustrated here that she might want to live with her father, but her father and I agree that's not the way to go. I don't want to teach her that just because she's frustrated means she gets to jump ship and go elsewhere only to get frustrated there and come back here, which we all know would happen. I think part of the reason why she's so good with her dad right now is because they're not together all the time.

When I was married I spent the all of my time dealing with the effects of him treating us both like crap. Some of it she saw and some of it she didn't, but she knew we were not in a good place and she even asked me when she was 5 why I stayed with her dad. It was her and I against the world when we were all together and her and I against the world on our own when we moved out...until I dated. And the one guy she really liked cheated on me and lied to me. Go figure. She doesn't know every detail, but I am as honest with her about everything as is appropriate and that's pretty honest without crossing any lines.

I love her so much - there are no words to convey it properly. She's everything to me. She's intelligent and funny and so beautiful. She is secure in her own identity and talented at so many things. I see her as this tiny little girl so full of love for me when she was small and then I see her now. And it's different. I'm so scared to lose her. So scared that I've managed to ruin everything. I'm scared that I've ruined this beautiful relationship and broken her trust. Am I her first heartbreak? Did I do that to her? I promised her that I would always be there and during that awful 6-month period I wasn't, but I am now and I don't want it to be too late.

I hate the think that after all we've been through...10 years with her father creating mess after mess that my one (although large) issue which has now been resloved would split us apart. I know she loves me and she does show it when we're together and things are going well. Help?


  • robyann
    by robyann
    November 19, 2012 at 8:15 AM

     First I'd say you need to let up on yourself! You are only human, we all are, we all have issues throughout our lives. We all make mistakes, just because we are moms it doesn't mean we're perfect.

    Talk to your dd about how you feel. Sounds like you already have, but make sure you tell her that you love her very much and are sorry that she was hurt by your issues. Explain that everyone has to deal with issues, including her.

    Tell her your always here for her, that you'll always love her and want the best for her.

    Really it does sound like your doing a great job with her. You can't continue to feel guilty for that 6 months where things were rough for you. You have to let that go, put it behind you, and move on. Your dd is 13, so she is changing alot and is pulling away from you some. All kids do this. The mother/daughter relationship is a tough one through the teenage years. A girl has to pull away from her mother, she has to prove she is her own person and not like her mother. That's all normal. She would be doing this whether that 6 months had happened or not.

    Just continue to be there for her, continue to love her, and continue to encourage her to talk to you. Things will get better between you two.

  • Barabell
    November 19, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    Hello, and welcome to the group!

    I agree with the sentiment of a lot of the replies so far. First, stop beating yourself up so much. Part of this IS the age. My son is 13 too, and I see a change in his attitude too about doing chores and homework. He's fighting it more, and he also has more sighing, moping, rolling eyes. Second, keep the lines of communication open. At this age, you should talk to her about the depression you went through. I was thinking maybe writing a letter to her with a few of the things you outlined above might be helpful for her. Depression can affect all of us, and so I think being more open to her about what you were going through and how important it is to get help when depressed could be a good life lesson for both you and her.

  • vampjezzabell
    November 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Thank you guys all so much. I have definately talked to her about the depressive stuff because it would be a mistake not to, but I probably need to bring it up and let her know that if she has any questions about it she can ask and I will answer. It's an issue I've had all of my life and wen terrible life circumstances like the divorce happen it sends me spiraling into it sometimes. That was one of the worst episodes I've ever had. Just for FYI I have bipolar disorder, but not to the extent of a Charlie Sheen episode. Definately out of character behavoir, though. I've had maybe 3 to 4 episodes during my life and this is the only one she's seen. I went for therapy and medication and did everything I was supposed to do, but when it blows up that way it takes a while to find the right dosage of meds and everything else to calm it down hence from beginning to end it lasting about 6 months. I am stable as stable can be now. No timultous relationship, no off center dating and no eratic behavior. Anyway - I dont' know why I went in to all of that!

  • PurpleHazey
    November 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM


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