Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Clash

I love variety.  Always, my mantra has been "variety is the spice of life."  Truly.  I mean I love to find new ways to get somewhere.  It gets boring driving the same way all the time.  I love discovering new ways to use things in my home (I love the word "repurposing").  And I love new things.  New scents of shower gel.  New hairstyles.  I love making new friends and finding new restaurants and places to hangout.  But, I especially love finding new ways to arrange a room.  I used to love re-arranging my bedroom when I was a kid.  Something my daughters have inherited.

So, today we re-arranged each of their bedrooms.  And as we did, I did not enjoy the process nearly as much as I normally do.  I struggled.  Because the eight-year-old, (i.e. the instigator of this morning's activity) has a very specific non sense of style.  And it does not match mine.  It doesn't agree with my hgtv taste and all of the things I've learned from that beloved channel.  She wants things her way.  No opinions please.  This is how I want my room to look.  Thank you very much.  My opinion on the new arrangement was politely dismissed.  She stayed her course.  And it bugged me to no end! 

As she described her vision of placing her day bed so it sticks out into the middle of the room instead of conforming to the nature for which it was created (i.e. being pushed up against a wall), my insides screamed "No!!!!"  That's why my husband so annoyingly wisely reminded me last night that I need to let her have her own space.  It's not my room.  It's hers.  Because he knew I would not catch her vision.  He knew we would not see things the same way.  He is such an amazing dad.  Therefore, against my every inclination to take her downstairs and brainwash train her with my Pottery Barn books and hours of hgtv, I calmly asked if I could offer my opinion.  She kindly agreed to listen.  And then decidedly denied the help.

You know what?  I already knew she wouldn't like it.  Because it wasn't her idea.  Sometimes, I feel like she doesn't like things just because it's my idea.  Like she was born to prove to me that she needs no training of any sort.  About anything.  Especially when it comes to something that is hers.  In this case, her bedroom.  Her space.

I hate that we have such different ways of seeing things.  We have always had this clash.  And, realizing that many moms and daughters have a certain mother/daughter clash thing, I am just not okay with it.  I don't want her to grow up to just accept that we will always clash because "that's just what moms and daughters do".  I want to have a healthy relationship with her.  With both of my daughters.  I want to work through it.  I don't want to struggle with my pride everytime we disagree on something.  Because I think that's what's at the bottom of it.  Pride.  Hers.  And mine.  She wants to prove she knows enough.  I want to prove I'm in control.  P.R.I.D.E.

That's why I began praying for a healthy relationship with her back when she was about two-years-old and the clash began to raise its ugly face.  Because I want to be the mom that Jesus made me to be.  The mom that He knew she needs.  The kind of mom that teaches her who Jesus is.  What His ways are.  Why they're the only way to really live.      

And sometimes, I feel like we're improving.  Like the ten minutes every night that she and I started spending together reading through a devotion book for girls her age.  And yesterday when we played Gamecube together while she was sick at home and her sister was at preschool.  But, we always seem to return to the clash.  I know we'll always have differences.  That's relationships.  I know we will never have the perfect one.  We are human.  But I also have to believe that it can be better.  Strong-willed child, strong-willed mama and all.  I only wish I knew how.

Any thoughts?  Anyone else been there?  I'd love some advice...


laura said...

*I apologize in advance for the length of this comment!*

LOL. So funny because G and I have had a clash from about 9 months on! What helped more than anything was the time she dislocated her elbow and she and I spent LONG hours in the ER together alone. She was hurting and needed me like she'd never needed me before. I felt compassion for her and nurtured her like I'd never nurtured her before. We bonded. I praise God for that experience.

Then I also have the history of a lifelong mom-daughter clash with my own mom. For us, it wasn't as much a control issue as a personality issue. She's a peacekeeper (at all costs), and I’m a pot-stirrer (contrary to the core!). She has told me so often that she NEVER "understood" me. Put that together with the fact that she's a committed unbeliever and I'm a committed believer. CLASH! We actually have been able to make some strides in our relationship, especially since I've become a mom and crucified a little more of my self, but I don't know what could have been done better back then. It’s possible that I needed to be at odds with her so that I could be strong enough to reject her beliefs and choose Christ…

It's one thing if the issues we had were JUST about sin. But personality is God-given. There are certain people that I can learn to love and respect, but would probably never become best friends with. And we aren't promised that any of our kids will be our best friends! In the Bible I see instruction about what parents and kids are responsible for doing, but I don't remember seeing anything about how "close" we are to be with them.

I think there are many ways to encourage bonding between mothers and daughters (you could plan a homespun weekend retreat that includes trust-building activities like blindfold walks, etc?), but I also think it's important that we don't expect our relationship with our kids to be something it's just NOT. Even if my mom became a Christian and we both worked through our conflict issues, she may never "relate" to me the way she does to my sister who is more like her. But that doesn't mean we can't make the absolute MOST of our relationship, to the glory of God! I am thankful for my friends who are very different than me because they challenge my character and my beliefs. Sometimes I am FRUSTRATED, and just plain DISAGREE, but the benefits of those conflicts are unmistakable. The fact is, the conflict you are having with your child is causing an awareness of needed growth! Maybe one day you WILL be best friends! But until then, it sounds like you are in the process of working with God to make the conflict a blessing to you both! PTL!

Linda's Log said...

I know this is SO late, but that is my best quality !!! :) I know all about your clash with your strong willed child!! I think all of us Moms have at least one, I think it is God's way to teach US, first humility, how to handle our pride, how to "pick our battles" and to see how we ourselves are strong willed and stubborn wanting our own way, our own ideas of how we should do things. I mean being that strong willed child and creating the same clash with our Heavenly Father, God.

If we can look at our selves in that same way, we can be learning some great lessons that will not only help change our hearts but at the same time our child will see that we are approachable, that we DO listen to them, that we DO respect the idea that they have a mind and can make decisions.

The best part of this is, as they learn these secrets about themselves with the little things in life (like how they want their bedroom to look) they are learning how to make decisions, and they are still under YOUR control.

This is SO important as you release them into the world, to make decisions without you being there beside them. IF they have failed and made a bad decision and have seen that YOUR way was better, then you have some hope that when it comes to making BIG important decisions they will not only seek your opinion but may even listen to it and take your advise.

So, be encouraged, it is a GOOD thing to have these clashes, you will some day like each other, maybe not always think the same, but if she can learn now that you are willing to listen to her ideas and take them into consideration, then as she getss older she will know she can run those ideas by you with confidence that you will again listen!

That is what is important, even more important than where her bed is placed, after all it IS her room!!

One more thing, all of this needs to be covered in prayer, stay on your knees for those two beautiful girls, even when they are all grown up!!!

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