The growing independence of your daughter has left you shocked and heartbroken.
You ask yourself, is it finally time to apologize for not having her at home? Or is there more work to be done? What should you do to make up for your first flawed decision as a mother?
These are all great questions, and I want to start by saying: You need to stop beating yourself up and make things right for your daughter.
When you come from the generation of expectation that a mother must cook, clean, and raise children, there is no shame in being housebound, but that doesn’t mean you should make your daughter feel bad when she questions the authority of her mother or you make her feel marginalized.
There is a fine line between being too nurturing and spoiling and being too controlling.
As you’re going to meet her for the first time, you could first take a tour of her current school. Is the school a good fit for her?
Is she getting the support she needs? In which areas can you be more supportive?
When you ask yourself questions like these, you can gauge whether you want her to attend the school.
She needs to feel comfortable in her new environment
As for you, make sure you focus on your daughter and not on your disappointment. For example, you’re probably very stressed about the tension you feel and how worried you are about how your new classmates and teachers may react to your new presence.
“Parenting, at least for me, is a very precarious position,” says Michel Durkheim, a renowned French sociologist who was a childless father and a devoted mother.
Durkheim used to say, “The importance of me does not precede the importance of you.” Your kids don’t need you to lay down the law and tell them how to behave.
You need to be their guide, who won’t appear to have all the answers, but who can share them.
Trust your gut. If you decide to meet your daughter, here’s how to do it: Set up a safe space for her to meet you without a crowd of her peers around.
This is going to be a safe space, so be sure she’s not sleeping and making sure there is no cell phone use.
After you’ve met her at school, you should then send her a warm text message like, “Let’s get together soon,” and ask if you can have her over for dinner at your home.
She needs to see you and to feel you’re present and enthusiastic.
Be honest and sincere in your apology
Here’s where it gets tricky. You have to be sincere about your apology and make it sincere.
I remember telling my then-seven-year-old son after he pulled down his pants at school that he could go home for the day if he felt like it.
The last thing he needed was to be sent to his room with a lecture. This is when I felt the tears well up.
The poor kid didn’t need the lecture, but I was losing my temper over something so minor.
You’ve also got to be ready to listen to the voice in your head that’s saying, “What’s going on? She’s asking for too much.
She’s in middle school and asking me to be in her life every day?”
Perhaps your daughter can see you more often if you do a different kind of listening.
Perhaps she can only see you when she has a free period during the day and will call when she’s alone to tell you about her day. As long as it’s happening, it doesn’t matter.
There are many ways you can meet her:
By getting her to come over for a visit, inviting her to spend the weekend with you and your family at a nearby resort, or invite her over for a sleepover so she can see what you and your family do at night.
As for you, I know you’re upset about losing your job.
But you have to focus on being a better mother and learning to love your daughter with everything you have.
Do you want her to be proud of you when she’s older? Then be the best mother you can.
Our disabled son-in-law avoids the ramp My friend, a mother of two sons, says: “Nothing about the job changed me as a person.
I knew my limits and put my foot down, but my work was never an issue in our house, and my sons are very proud of me.
I wish my girls could have been there to see the back of me, but I’ll probably see them in the lunch queue once a week when I drop off my son.
Your job is to be the best mother you can and give your daughter the unconditional love and acceptance she needs right now.