Emily and I were rushing around the house, trying to leave for Taylor’s softball game. I was heading toward the door, hands full of water bottles and bug spray, when Emily walked into the kitchen. She hasn’t even changed yet.
“Em, we need to get going – hurry and change your clothes.”
She shook her head. “No Mom, I’m wearing this. I’m ready to go.”
I took another look. Why would she wear that? It was hot outside. She was wearing black sweats – and a shirt way too dressy to wear with sweats.
So I explained why I didn’t think her outfit was the best choice.
And she explained why she thought it was.
So I pushed my opinion a little further.
And then she pushed hers back.
And on it went until finally she ran upstairs and changed her clothes. She didn’t stomp up the steps. She didn’t slam her door. She just changed her clothes.
But the expression on her face when she returned told me I’d taken it too far. Suddenly, the whole argument seemed ridiculous and blown way out of proportion. My thoughts nagged at me as we drove to the game.
She’s not a little girl anymore. What would it hurt if she wore sweats? She’s old enough to dress herself for heavens sake!
Then I remembered something Emily had told me a few days earlier. At the time, I didn’t think much about it. Several girls at school had to change into their PE clothes because their shorts were too short. Then it hit me.
Emily is a good kid. This argument wasn’t about what she was wearing. This was about me.
My mom always says, “When it comes to teenagers, you need to pick your battles.” Now that I’m a mom, I see the wisdom in that. I took a deep breath and swallowed my pride.
“Emily, I’m sorry. There was nothing wrong with what you were wearing. I’m not sure why I freaked out.”
She stared out the window in silence. I continued.
“But I might have a clue,” I said, fighting the lump in my throat. “After 14 years of telling you what to do, I think I’m just having a hard time breaking the habit.”
She turned from the window and looked at me. “Okay Mom.”
Hopefully someday she’ll be the mom of a teenager. Maybe then she’ll understand what it feels like when your job changes.
In the meantime, I'll keep working on my on-the-job training. I’ll admit, it isn't easy adjusting to this new role. Instead of being the “boss,” I’m working toward becoming more of an “advisor.” I know I’ve got a lot to learn. But I’ve already started on lesson #1 – Learning how to pick my battles.
*photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / By Jeroen van Oostrom