Tonight I stood at the counter folding clothes and waiting for my daughter to get home from a one act festival her theater group put on. She had won the lead in “Butterfly;” the story of a WWII Jewish child and survivor. I thought she did an amazing job. My husband and I were both excited to congratulate her with a hug and tell her how proud we are of her. However, upon arriving home, she stormed through the garage door and immediately marched upstairs. I called her back down as she yelled that she just wanted to shower and go to bed. I insisted she come down for a moment. My husband tried the hug. She let him embrace her for like… a millisecond and then started to push away. I didn’t even get a millisecond.

I stood at the foot of the stairs in shock; completely blindsided. I could hear her crying hysterically in her room. I stared at my husband with a lost expression. Then I started upstairs. I went in to her room to talk to her. She barricaded herself in the bathroom, turned on the shower and kept telling me to, “go away” and that she couldn’t hear me. I stood my ground for a few minutes and then admitted defeat.

Later, I texted her. I let her know I was still awake and that I would listen without a word if she was able to calm down. I expressed my congratulations and pride. I got no response.

More than two hours later, I’m still awake. I am sitting at my computer with a glass of wine wondering what happened and how I could have comforted her. I’m also a little angry. I’m angry because I feel that no matter what upset her, she should have thanked us for being at the show and at least allowed us both a hug. I feel she should have let us tell her what we thought of her performance. I’m upset that she doesn’t seem to stop and consider others, but instead is cocooned in her own feelings and needs. I’m even more upset that she shut us out. Literally.

My mother surmises that teenagers have to push family away to ready themselves for college and impending adulthood. She believes the rebellion, anger and angst is a way to separate themselves from parents because they are scared and are insulating themselves from pain. The theory makes sense. Besides, my mother is pretty much always right.

What I don’t understand is how you endure and tolerate as a parent. What do you accept? What respects and considerations do you demand? When is privacy dangerous and when is it respectful? When does, “leave me alone” mean; “Please hold me and let me know that I am okay and I am loved?” I know, “leave me alone” is almost never a truthful declaration when I say it, even if I think I’m being honest. Yet, my children are not me. I can’t impose my needs, values, emotions and dreams upon them. But, how do I know what their needs, values, emotions and dreams are when they will not tell me? As my babies morph into young adults that I sometimes do not recognize and often do not understand, how do I show them love and support without smothering them?

The real crap shoot of the whole parenting thing is that every child is different. So, what works for one, will not work for another. You can never really have things figured out. You will make mistakes that have lasting scars and you pray they will forgive you. But they might not. And that is a jagged pill to swallow.

So here I sit, at 4am, knowing I will be exhausted tomorrow. I sit here wishing she could see into my heart and my mind; wishing she could see herself as I do. That she could feel how much I love her. That she could know that I admire her. That she could understand how lucky I feel to be her mom.

So, I write these words that she will not let me speak. Maybe someday she will read them. Maybe someday she will understand. Maybe someday I will understand. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep trying and loving and hoping.

Post note: I just snuck in to her room to kiss her goodnight. My sneaking skills need sharpening. She woke up. I got my hug. And I was able to let her know how proud I am of her. I feel better. I hope she does too. Trying, hoping and loving. It’s pretty much all we can ask for and all we can do.