Southern Voice: Amy Cannon
Choose your battles. Cliché as it may seem these days, I feel that doing so can create a little headway when parenting teenagers.
Headway to me could mean anything from biting my tongue when he left his wet towel and underwear on the floor, to not having a conniption when I saw her curling iron lying in the bathroom sink while still plugged into the wall.
Headway to the kid: “That time mom didn’t nag, nag, nag about this or that.”
Some of you may chuckle to think things like this would even be a battle to choose, while many of you are most likely right there with me, totally getting it. I think we get so worked up because these tiny little “easy for them to do” things get layered throughout the day until we erupt into a fit of crazy. My fit of crazy would go viral if one of the kids secretly videotaped me in action. Jaws would drop, lots of tsk-tsks, heads shaking. Friends would be like, “But on social media you appeared to be such a good mom! Where did that vicious voice come from? How did you get your head to spin around like that?”
There are battles that are obviously much larger than others, and in turn, more difficult to let go. We all know how hard the teen years are on kids. For our daughter Harper, the toughest years were at ages 12-14. We had gone from private school to public school. She was resentful about leaving her friends, and hesitant to make new friends. This age is challenging enough as it is, being tough to navigate from being our little girl requesting at nighttime to “tell me a story about when you were little that I haven’t heard,” to growing into a young lady and all the body changes that come along with that growth.
This was one of the scarier times for my husband and me as parents. We were trying to engage her and build her up, while still disciplining the best we knew. Yet, at the same time we were worrying about whether or not her low self esteem and lack of self worth created from new, but broken friendships and bullying would tear her down to something so awful we didn’t want our minds to venture to.
“This was one of the scarier times for my husband and me as parents.”
We prayed harder, worried more, cried a lot and spent a lot of time trying to make things easier, while again, still exercising discipline when needed, which was daily it seemed. After she turned 15, she found true friends, those who built her up, laughed with her, vented with her, and friends who she could treat the same in return. My husband and I seemed to worry a little less, breath a little better and actually be able to have conversations with her without her stomping upstairs and slamming the door.
It was finally okay, until one day, while putting laundry away, I opened the door to her room and froze, immediately going into a moment of “mom” rage. Black Sharpie was written on her freshly painted wall. It was one wall and only a few words. But black Sharpie. The paint color had been chosen, with bedding to match in her newly arranged room. Black Sharpie wasn’t an appealing accent to all of that.
At that moment, as frustrated and angry thoughts ran amok in my mind, these words softly entered:
“It’s just a wall.”
There was freedom in letting that battle go. Boy, I am glad I did. While it’s not pretty, somehow it has evolved into something beautiful, this wall. Over these few years as she’s had friends over getting ready for football games, sleepovers or drama fests, her friends have written affirmations on this wall. Harper has expressed many of her feelings on this wall. I recently stood in her bedroom reading each one with tears in my eyes. Harper is 17 now, and I am so thankful she wakes up to this wall each morning, and sees it before she goes to bed each night. The battles are still here, but they are different with every new chapter, and even if she’s chosen not to share something with me, I can read her wall to know what she’s feeling. One day I even took a Green Sharpie (there are more colors of Sharpies, you know!) and wrote on this wall. “You are the bright light in your momma’s life.”
A few of the writings from friends are:
- You are enough and I love you
- You’re beautiful and I love you
- Don’t cling to a mistake because you spent a lot of time making it
- Sunshines are worth billions, but you are worth sunshines
- You are my favorite person in the history of time
- Happiness looks good on you
Some of Harper’s writings:
- Scream I am Worthy until the stars collapse
- Everything is in Gods plan
- Treat boys and girls the same
- Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
- Equality is the goal
I do try to be as transparent as possible, because the challenges and the crazies of real life are relatable to people. When we see others dealing with the same things we are, it gives us a moment to exhale and realize those struggles are not unique to us.
Facebook is my preferred social media outlet, so I shared this story on my wall, and it generated inspiration among many friends. Aspiring to be still and listen sometimes before jumping into the battlefield could positively affect the way your teen communicates with you. God speaks to us, not when we’re looking for it specifically, but in His time, and always at the right time.
I hope you will join me in being more real with others so we cannot feel so alone during the darker days. Go find someone’s wall to write on.
I’m Amy Cannon, Mom to Harper & Davis, Wife to Preston, Believer in Christ, Owner of Cannontown Real Estate in Brentwood, TN & an Animal Loving Fiend. My humor is dry & unpredictable. Catch my Facebook posts about life’s mishaps & too many pics of our dogs & kids.
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