My 16-year-old daughter tells me everything, and when I say everything, I mean everything. At least she used to.
This past week I could tell something was up. She’s been really quiet and definitely distant. She’s been in her room more than usual (if that’s really possible), sequestered away with her Pretty Little Liars episodes, surfacing on rare occasion to scavenge forfood, usually late at night when her dad and I are asleep.
When she’s not in her room, she’s out with her boyfriend or some new friends. We’re glad she’s going out; we wanted her to stretch herself and be more social. But the bottom line is that I felt like she was definitely avoiding me.
The other day I checked in with her to make sure she’s not depressed and that things are OK in her life. And I guess I started asking too many in-your-face questions, because she informed me that I’ve been “mom-zoned.” She actually said that to me, and then she said, “Hey, you should be thankful you had my friendship for as long as you did.”
Just like that, like we’re no longer “friends.”
And I think I get it, because I’ve often wondered myself if she and I are too close. I’ve wondered if I’ve failed her by being too “friend-y” and not being enough “mommy.” I worry a lot about this, actually. But it might be her fault too, because when she needed a friend, I was there. And when she needed a mom, I was there too. The lines have definitely been blurred in our relationship, and I never know which way to behave when it comes to raising our daughter.
So I’m giving her permission for privacy, permission to “mom-zone” me. And I’m not going to be offended or hurt or mad about it, even though she more or less told me to go to my room and cry over it after she made me a mom and no longer a friend. Which is what I’m supposed to be to her in the first place.
I’m going to back off for a while and not ask her what movie she and her boyfriend saw, not ask her what she and her new friend ate at dinner the other night, not ask her what she bought at H&M when she went shopping, not ask her what kind of doughnuts she and… oh God, maybe I am that awful, annoying mother whose daughter comes to hate with a burning passion.
I know I can’t be her best friend. She has one already, and so do I. I don’t want to be hers. It’s not healthy. It’s also not right. And it’s kind of weird how close we are. But it’s also kind of wonderful too. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and it’s a bit sad in a way. In a strange, weird way, I feel like I’m truly losing a great friend.
But she’ll always be my daughter. She’ll always need her mom. And there’s comfort in that. —Ellen Coy