Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I just graduated from high school and my mother and I are planning my graduation party. It’s supposed to be fun, but it’s only caused a lot of fighting and heartache. First it started with old school photos she wanted to display at the party. I just wanted the few photos that I like, but my mom wants to put ALL OF THEM–from kindergarten to now. Some of them are embarrassing pictures of me because I was a pretty chubby kid.
The other night, while I was in the middle of watching my favorite show, she pulled out the bag of pictures to show my father, little sister and me. She got offended at my lack of attention and the fact that I said some of the photos were embarrassing. But we said our good nights and it seemed as though nothing was wrong.
I woke up the next day and my mom pulls out a box of graduation goodies she ordered, suddenly commenting that I can just do everything by myself. I AM SO CONFUSED. In a harsh tone, she tells me that if I am so embarrassed about her work than I can do it all by myself. She won’t have anything to do with it. I cried and went to my room.
I called my dad to tell him the situation. He reassured me it will all be fine, but mom is the type where when she gets mad, you better stay out of her sight. My sister approached me and asked if I got in trouble, I nodded my head and told her “mom’s not gonna be at my party,” and she looked shocked.
I don’t know if my mom heard me tell my sister that, but suddenly my mom snapped. She came stomping out of her room and started yelling and throwing things. Then she said that we’re all not going to be able to live together in the house for the summer. She jokes a lot about being sent to a mental institutition, but she said this time that she really needs to go.
Now I’m back in my room, crying a river. I want to get out of here but I can’t leave my sister. I am an honor student, involved in many activities and organizations, and I did not just complete 13 years of schooling for this shit. I don’t know what to do anymore. If I am the problem in this equation, shouldn’t I be removed, permanently?
I guess I just wanted to tell someone – someone that wouldn’t risk repercussions. Thanks for listening.
Hurting and Confused Graduate
Dear Hurting and Confused Graduate,
Oof, my heart. I am so, so sorry that you are going through this during what should be a very exciting, happy time of your life. I feel the need to tell you congratulations on your graduation. Maybe set off some damn fireworks, girl. Despite the chaos that is surrounding you at the moment, this is something of which you should be proud. Take a moment to tell yourself how proud you are if no one else is doing it for you.
I don’t know your mother or your family dynamic, but I don’t need to see those things to understand that your mother is being emotionally manipulative and abusive. You should abso-freakin-lutely be able to tell your mother that you feel embarrassed without it initiating World War III. Your feelings are valid. That was not something your mother needed to take personally. What you endured says more about your mother’s feelings of validation, worthiness, and self-confidence and virtually NOTHING about you. So please also take a moment to tell yourself that: this is not about you. You are not a bad person. You are not a bad daughter. Your feelings are not bad. And while I don’t condone how your mother is treating you, I’m sure she loves you very much.
I feel so powerless trying to help you through a computer screen, so I want to offer you some resources that can be more reliable and immediate. Visit hopeline.com or call 1-800-442-HOPE if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I worry when you say that you need to be “removed, permanently” from this situation that you’re referring to suicide, and believe me when I say that the world is begging you not to. (Because, you aren’t the problem. You are valuable. You are loved. Hell, I love you because I feel your pain and I know you don’t deserve it. Anyone reading this will feel the same.) You can also call domestic violence hotlines because emotional abuse within the family falls into this category. Visit NCADV for local, state-based numbers, websites, and email addresses.
When you’re feeling especially lost, remember that this is temporary. Your life gets better. I swear. You may hear us crazy, old housewives whining all the time, but it’s all very much so worth it.
Take care of yourself,
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Okay so I’ve missed my bus for school a few times and my mom is getting so mad at me. What can I do to make her not mad at me anymore!?
Too Cool For The School Bus
Dear Too Cool,
I fear this is a weighted question, dear child. My reasoning lies within the fact that the solution to your problem should be quite simple–so simple, in fact, that you could figure it out yourself. I think I remember the equation from high school math. You know, that place you go when you catch the bus?
Are you following? Was I supposed to add the Pythagorean Theorem somewhere in there? Divide by Pi? Find the square root?
Maybe I should take a different approach.
I think the problem here is that there is more going on besides the school bus. (God, was this all a metaphor?! Do they mix math and English these days?!) Having a complex or problematic relationship with your mother, in itself, is not a bad thing nor is it surprising. Allow me to run with that assumption for a moment. You’re a teenager and teens traditionally butt heads with parents for very valid reasons around this time. It’s part of establishing your independence. The problems arise when these clashes lead to the deterioration of mutual respect. Are you doing your best to respect your mom’s time, rules, and values? Do you feel that you are doing a good job of communicating your concerns and challenges in return?
This might be a good place to start. Have that conversation with yourself and with your mother.
That, and with setting your alarm about fifteen minutes earlier in the morning.
PS: Maybe our readers have some more tips for you! They probably did better than I in math class, too.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
How can my 13-year-old son live through his raging hormones phase? Everything is so dramatic, extremely negative, and lately it has also been directed at me as part of the broken system. He can be very effective at his disdain for the world, and I find myself losing my patience and raising my voice as well. I do know that this will pass, and I already see some of the wonderful friend he is going to become, but I need some helpful instant-time-out ideas for shutting down the drama, when your baby boy is six inches taller than you.
I can’t believe I thought my girl would be the hardest
Call me crazy, but the first thing that came to mind was Jeff VanVonderen of Intervention. Does your son also happen to have a raging alcohol or substance abuse problem? Because that would make things easier for me. We could chalk his outbursts up to “noise,” give him an ultimatum, and call it a day.
No, you say? Fine.
I think, when it comes to negative behavior, we can follow some basic ground rules from age 1 to 100:
Engaging in an argument with your son will only validate that what he’s going on about is worth a fight. If he’s not willing to talk about it civilly, you tell him that you’re ready to speak calmly when he is. Then you just leave the room. Start vacuuming. Plug your ears and sing LALALALALA! Whatever works. You can also try filling his spare time with more physical activities. This will not only help to relieve some of that anger he’s feeling, but it can also be a great time to get him talking. Boys and men tend to open up a bit more when they’re doing something. Perhaps avoid striking up a conversation while he’s in the bathroom, however.
You can also try to do some detective work if you feel that your son’s social or academic life is giving him trouble. Talk with teachers, friends’ parents, and any local fortune tellers. You never know!
If all else fails, see if you can get him to open up to a male figure in the family. And cut yourself some slack. As you said, you’ll survive this. Wine helps.
Do you have young kids and live in New York City?! The Mouthy Housewives are giving away a free fall class at the super fun New York Kids Club! Wendi tried to enroll herself but apparently you have to be a toddler or something.
You’ll get to choose from Musical Tots, Infant Milestones and Cuentos Musica y Arte. It’s a $725 value. (Everyone who doesn’t live in NYC now can’t believe a fall class costs $725.)
To enter, leave a comment and mention New York Kids Club. You must also like The Mouthy Housewives on Facebook.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Last week a friend of mine told me a story about a fight she had with her sister-in-law. She had asked her niece to watch her two kids(ages 14 and 17) for the weekend. Upon her return home, her niece told her that the 17 year old had been annoying all weekend. When she investigated it further, she found the following things had happened on Saturday:
1. Her niece told the 14 year old to ask the 17 year old if he wanted to go swimming, but the 14 year old neglected to do this as the 17 year old was just rolling out of bed. They left without him.
2. They called the 17 year old later in the day to see if he wanted to go to a graduation party with them. He said no since he didn’t know the person.
3. Around 8 pm, he called them and asked if they were all going to dinner. They said they had already eaten and he should just order a pizza. He tried to call a local pizza place. They did not pick up the phone. So he called them back and asked if they could bring him something and they agreed.
4. Around 10 pm, the niece, the 14 year old and the niece’s parents show up and give him McDonald’s. Most of the fries were eaten. Two bites were taken out of the sandwich. Half of the drink was gone. They said they had gotten hungry on the way to the house.
5. The next morning, the 17 year old asked his aunt and uncle if they could pick him up for church. They told him to drive himself.
When my friend found out this stuff, she was livid and then her sister-in-law told her that her son will have a hard time in college because he can’t do anything for himself. The argument got intense to say the least. My question is, when someone in your family criticizes your child (sometimes in front of him), what is the best way to handle it?
A Concerned Friend
Dear Concerned Friend,
Gosh, I miss the good old days, and by the good old days I mean the mid-80’s when my parents would just leave us for a week when we were 16 and 17 years old. I mean, sure there may have been a few parties and all (and oh, don’t tell my dad that the ‘vodka’ he drank from his liquor cabinet from 1984-1988 was actually 90% water), but during that week we both made it to school every day as well as to any commitments and work. But the most amazing thing we did was not starve because we could drive to the grocery store or even to the golden arches if the fries were calling our name.
I do have to say that if the 17 year old has a form of transportation, as his aunt and uncle declare, then why didn’t he just go get dinner? Or, here’s an idea, make a piece of toast or a bowl of cereal and eat an apple, because I don’t believe anyone else was required to feed a 17 year old. Now I understand that the niece was in charge of watching her cousins – but I’m not sure watching consists of preparing three squares for a functioning 17 year old who chose not to go with them that night. I mean, I don’t even cook a meal for my 9 year old now if I can get away with it. Turns out even she knows how to make a bowl of cereal when I let her.
Now as far as calling someone annoying…well that is super annoying and I certainly would not want anyone criticizing any child in front of him. But then again I don’t consider a 17 year old a child. Unless, of course, he can’t fix his own dinner. Hopefully by now your friend has cooled off and made nice with her family. Life’s too short to quibble over fries.
Tracy, Guest TMH
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I found out that my 15 year old daughter has a girlfriend. I can’t let her know, because to do so would give away that I was reading her tumblr, and that’s sort of like reading a diary.
So I’m pretty cool with it all… I’m not going all psycho “Oh no, is my daughter really gay? My life is over!” melodramatic or anything. (I honestly think she’s just in an experimental stage, and even if she’s not, I’m not freaking out. She is what she is, and I happen to think she’s really awesome.)
The problem is this: her girlfriend also has a tumblr and posted a photo of herself kissing my daughter. She also talked about her beautiful girlfriend using my daughter’s real first name. So there are photos of my daughter kissing “Beth”, along with my daughter’s first name on “Beth’s”tumblr.
A tumblr is totally public. Anyone can see it, and follow their way from one to another like I did. I am worried about someone from their school finding it and potentially making her life difficult, but I can’t really discuss it with her without letting her know I was cyber-stalking her. Help!
Troubled by Tumblr
First things first: I’m thoroughly relieved to see that you are approaching this situation with an open mind, love, and acceptance. Without those ingredients your task would be even more daunting and problematic. (As if dealing with a teenager of any kind isn’t daunting and problematic enough to begin with.)
That said, I think you have answered your own question here. Her tumblr account is public, right? So, why should you feel ashamed that you TUMBLED upon it? (See what I did there?) This can actually be a really great teachable moment for her when it comes to online privacy and safety. For us parents, it’s easier to see the dangers of the online world, but for our kids, who have grown up entrenched in the culture, it can be more challenging to gain that perspective.
But before you proceed with a plan, I think there’s one question you need to ask for yourself: is it really her online safety that you are concerned with? Or do you feel that you need to reconnect with your daughter in light of this new information? Maybe it’s a bit of both? Because I think the answer to that will dictate your next course of action.
My worry is that there is the potential of distancing your daughter if she feels judged or manipulated. In other words, if she is self-conscious about her sexuality, we don’t want her to think that you are using “online safety” as a front for discouraging her homosexual PDA.
You know your daughter better than I do, so you will be the best predictor of how this discussion might go. If you still feel uncomfortable, or simply want some support through the process, don’t hesitate to seek out a family therapist for some further guidance on the issue. They may even have some insight on this generation’s need to ELIMINATE VOWELS FROM WORDS WITH WILD ABANDON.
Keep us posted,