Relationship With My Daughter Keeps Me Awake At Night.

 In Mamas' Story

As I await the graduation ceremony for my 21 year-old daughter to commence I can’t help but to flash back the relationship with my daughter which once kept me awake at night, I wondered how I had fared as a mum. Like many, my husband and I had started out as a dual-income couple working hard to afford a bigger house, a nicer car and a better lifestyle. While some mums could bring snacks to school at break time and to help in classrooms, I was busy climbing the corporate ladder. Although I committed all my non-working time to her, I did not realize that my poor little innocent daughter had often wondered why her mum had to work. The gifts and the vacations that could be afforded with the greater household income meant nothing to her.

Despite this, I would say we had a wonderful relationship until her teen years paid a visit. Suddenly we seemed poles apart. We argued about almost everything; her clothing, her language, her attitude, her preferences, her faith etc. Had my daughter become so different or was I just too conservative and controlling? I had to get used to the idea that my daughter now had a mind of her own and that she is very different from me. I had to give her space to grow. I was constantly reminded by my husband to choose my battles and not fight over everything! It was so bad that I was as glad as her when time came for her to leave the comforts of home to go to college.

But I missed her terribly when she was in college. I looked forward to her phone calls and was worried whenever I did not hear from her. Thank God for long school breaks that brought us back together again. It was a time to pamper her with all the food that she was deprived of. Yet, I nagged her about her weight gain! Will I ever change? Somehow we managed to always have a good time though, each being conscious that we had limited time together and thus tolerated each other’s flaws.

After 4 years apart from each other, I must say we have a wonderful relationship again. So how did it happen?

A few incidents (I believe) smoothened our relationship. I had time and again reminded her to drive within the speed limit. She called once, remorseful that she got a speeding ticket. The fine was US$600. You would think I would have said, “Did I not tell you?” Instead I consoled her and even offered to pay the fine. But all she needed was understanding and empathy, not reprimand nor compensation. She accepted it as a learning lesson and God knew that money was a painful but yet not harmful way for her to exercise safe driving. She was grateful for not being berated.

Another time she called crying as she had vomited several times. It was the middle of the night in the US and she had taken the anti-vomit pills from the big bag of medical supplies that I had packed for her but it still did not stop. I got her to get into bed and place her laptop next to her where we could see each other. I prayed over her continually until she fell asleep. Thanks to Skype, I could be there to comfort her to sleep until her laptop screen decided to go to sleep too. Guess she knew that in times of sickness, I would always be there for her.

Other encounters that were impactful were perhaps her break off with a boyfriend, a minor car accident caused by her inexperience and damage to her 3-month old Mac Book Air when she jam-braked her car. I realized that for each of these trials, all she wanted was support and empathy.

I have learnt a lot being a mum. As much as I had wanted my daughter to avoid pitfalls in life, she had to experience it herself and even suffer pain to discover and remember. I cannot protect her from the world. There is a time and a season when she will encounter and learn. As she grows and matures, I must just watch from the sidelines cheering her on and to ensure that she does not wander too far out. I have set the boundaries and now I have to let go of control. I simply need to be patient, tolerant and not expect perfection from her in the meantime. I have learnt to keep my mouth shut. And if I have to say it, I pray that I would say it in a gentle and loving manner. This way, we enjoy each other so much more.

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I asked my daughter who majored in psychology why we had so much disagreement in the past and her reply “teenage hormones, mum!” Teenagers go through a difficult time, trying to find an identity for themselves. I should have been supportive and not add to her confusion. Sometimes when she rants and complains, she is not seeking a solution. She just wants a listening ear, empathy and understanding. She is just screaming to be treated as an adult and all she needed was love.

The most surprising thing that happened recently was when my daughter said to me one day, “Mum, I think I am morphing into you. I can’t stand it when the house isn’t clean, I have to make my bed, I won’t get into bed without showering, I feel uncomfortable in clothing that is revealing…….”

Wow……..what can I ask for? My daughter who had once said “don’t make me like you” is now happy to announce that she is becoming like me! Somewhere along the 21 years I must have done some right. It has not been an easy ride. Much time has been spent down on my knees but I have been blessed. I have a Father who knows that I need help. In all my helpless and desperate moments, He was there to love me, guide me, support me and to cheer me on too. It has been an enriching journey and I look forward to a new episode in our relationship.

Selina C., who is a loving wife to a faithful husband and mum to two great children在等待我21歲的女兒大學畢業典禮開始時,我不禁回想起我與我女兒的關係,它總是令我每晚都夜不能寐。我不知道作為一個媽媽,我的表現是如何。跟許多人一樣,我的丈夫和我一開始是「雙薪人士」,很努力賺錢,然後買更大的房子和更新款的車,去爭取世人眼中認為更好的生活。當有些媽媽在學校小息時可以帶零食給她們的小孩和在班上伴讀或義務幫忙一下的時候,我往往都正在忙著上班,為攀上事業高峰的階梯而努力。雖然我下班後將我所有的時間都貢獻給我的女兒,但我沒有察覺到原來她總是不解為何她的媽媽總是在工作。我以為我的收入愈來愈多,我便可以送給她更貴重的禮物和跟她去不同的地方去遊玩,但這些對她來說,都是極無意義的。

儘管如此,直到她10歲之前,我們之間的關係還是很好的。但那之後,我突然發現我們似乎南轅北轍。我們幾乎為所有東西而爭論:她的衣服、說話、態度、喜好、信念等等。究竟是我的女兒變了還是我太保守和對她有太多控制慾?其實,我要明白和接受的是,現在我的女兒已經有她自己的想法,她跟我是很不一樣的。我要給予她空間讓她成長。我的丈夫總是提醒我,要選擇自己的戰場,而不是為所有事情爭鬥。我們之間的崩壞竟然到了一個地步是當她離開上海的家,離開這一個溫室獨自到美國去上大學時,我和她同樣地因為這次的分離而高興萬分!

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可是,當她在美國上大學時,我牽腸掛肚地掛念她。我總是等著她的來電。每當我沒有跟她通話時,我總會十分擔心。感謝主,她在學校長假期時回來了。我應該放縱她,讓她吃大快朶頤盡情去享受家鄉美食,但結果我只顧嘮叨她胖了!我會改變嗎?不過,不知怎的,之後我們設法讓大家都可以享受一段時光,因為我們都知道我們只有很少的時間可以在一起,所以我們決定容忍對方的缺點。分隔4年之後,我們再次回復美好的關係。妳可能會問,這究竟是怎樣做到的?

有好幾件事(我認為)修補了我們的關係。我之前已經一次又一次提醒她要在安全車速內駕駛。但她終於有一次超速了,收到了600美元的罰單,她很後悔。妳可能會覺得我會跟她說:「我早就提醒你了,不是嗎?」相反,我安慰她,甚至幫她繳交罰款。其實她需要的是我的理解和同理心,而不是訓斥。她視這件事為教訓。其實,雖然付出金錢是痛苦的,但用來幫她買一個教訓,讓她學會安全駕駛,是非常值得的。她最後很高興沒有挨罵。

還有一次,她在電話裡頭跟我哭訴她嘔吐了好幾次。那時候美國是半夜,她吃了我在替她收拾行李時準備的個人藥物裡頭的止嘔藥,但還是吐個不停。我叫她上床,並將筆記本電腦放在床邊,這樣我們就可以見到對方。我不斷為她祈禱,直至她睡著了。感謝Skype讓我在筆記本電腦沒電前可以安撫她至入睡。這件事之後她知道,每當她生病時,我總會在她身邊陪伴著她。

其他有影響力的事件包括她與男朋友的分手,另一次因為她新手無經驗而引致的交通意外,以及當她煞車時衝力把買回來只有三個月的Mac Book Air給弄壞了。我意識到每一次,她需要的只是我的支持和同理心。

當上一個媽媽後,我學到很多。曾經我希望我的女兒在生命中不會遇到陷阱、挫折,但她要先自己體驗,甚至要嘗一點苦楚,才能讓她發現和記住過錯。我不能夠所有事情都保護她。她總有一天要面對和學習的。當她長大和變得成熟後,我只能夠在旁邊為她打氣和確保她不會走歪。我為自己設定了界線,我現在必須要放手讓她去闖。在這段時間,我只需要有耐性,忍耐和不要期望她會做到十全十美。我學到不要說太多,而如果我真的要出聲,我希望我可以心平氣和地跟她好好地談。這樣一來,我們就可以欣賞彼此更多。

我的女兒主修心理學的。我問她,為何我們以前有那麼多分歧,經常吵架?她答我:「媽咪!這是因為少年荷爾蒙啊!」青少年經驗一段艱難的時期去尋找他們的自我身份。我應該支持她而不是增加她的困惑。有時候當她咆哮和抱怨時,她不是在尋求解決辦法,而是希望有人可以聆聽、同情和理解她的立場和困擾。她咆哮是因為她想被視為一個成年人去看待,她想要的只是愛。

最令我驚訝的是,最近我女兒跟我說:「媽咪,我覺得我變得愈來愈像你了。我不能忍受房子凌亂不堪,我要整理好我的床鋪,我不會未洗澡就上床睡覺,暴露的的衣著讓我怪不舒服的……」

哇……我還能要求些甚麼?曾經說過「我不要變成你一樣」的女兒現在興高采烈地跟你說回當年的同一番說話耶!在21年間,我一定有做得正確的事。這不是容易得來的。很多時候我都會遇到挫折,但我總是受到祝福的。我知道一位父神,他明白我需要幫助。在我無奈和絕望的時候,他一直都陪伴在我身邊,愛護、指導、支持我和為我加油。這是一個豐富的旅程,我期待著我和我女兒的關係的新一頁。

Selina C ─ 一個擁有忠實的丈夫的可愛妻子和兩個好孩子的媽媽

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