Riley is feeling a bit overwhelmed by life. I noticed the other night that her tone was more sarcastic and, well, complainy than normal. Then, when she was at the gym, she got upset with her coach and complained about her to her teammates (not good). Basically, she was struggling with a skill and this particular coach told her to just walk away from the apparatus. I couldn't believe how ugly her attitude was when she was talking to her teammates. It made me so sad and honestly, a little embarrassed. In the car on the way home, I told her that I saw that ugly moment and she immediately began to cry. She said she was overwhelmed and didn't even recognize herself. We walked through everything that is going on with her and tried to figure out what could be changed. We made a list of school responsibilities and outside responsibilities and were able to put them in order that I think (hope) helped her calm down a bit. She also went to bed as soon as she got home so that she could try to at least get 8 hours. But high school is hard and she puts a lot of pressure on herself.
Band is proving to be a bit overwhelming. Besides the actual class, she brings her saxophone home three or four times a week so she can practice. However, this weekend is solo and ensemble, she had a playing test, she has a concert to preview solo and ensemble AND she has to play in the pep band for a basketball game. This is all mandatory. On top of that, she is training for her first (only?) half marathon and it is at the end of the month. She spends the weekends doing her long training runs. AND she's freaked out about the skill issue at gymnastics so she wants to get in some training time for that on Saturday. On top of all of these things, she has her regular coursework which included 3 exams this week plus writing a poem and an essay. Yikes. She hates poetry because it's not black and white. There are no rules or memorization. And the essay is 3 pages on, of all things, late term abortion. Like so many of us, she's been putting off the essay because it's a difficult subject to write about. She needs a day where she can just zone out for a bit.
So back to this poem. She was supposed to come up with three memories that she could put in poetic form. She was laying across my bed while I was getting ready for bed and I was offering suggestions. Many of them she shot down with "I can't write about that!" (in true teenage form) but others she said, "I don't really remember that." I'm all, "Uh, that literally happened less than a year ago." I blew it off as teenage angst but sat up in the middle of the night with a "what if this is from the brain bleed..."?? I mean seriously. There's nothing I can do about it if it is but what if she seriously has a gap there? She laughs a lot and tells me that she struggles in gymnastics because her brain is broken (she's at the point where there's a lot of fear in flipping over stationary objects) and we always laugh it off. But gah! What if there really is a blank spot?
She is also still struggling at school with some social awkwardness. I don't understand the multiple personalities...well, maybe I do. High school is hard. But she has this confidence and personality when she is doing dance marathons that just isn't there when she's at school. So the hospital called earlier in the week (they called her, not me! haha) and asked if she'd be willing to do a check presentation at her school. Now, she goes to a HUGE school and it is divided into 7 smaller learning communities. The presentation is a fundraiser that one of the other communities did and she said she'd be fine to accept the check since it's during their homeroom period. Then they asked her to tell her story...something she could do in her sleep because she's done it literally a thousand times. She got on the laptop, changed some things on a dance marathon speech and was good to go. But this morning, she freaked out. She deleted big chunks of it because she was embarrassed to talk about this in front of peers. She said she'd have friends in the assembly and they might make fun of her. UGH. Telling her that's an issue with them, not with her did not help. She also asked me not to go and listen.
Parenting is definitely not an easy gig and nothing about being an awkward teenager is easy. She knows that being a 25 weeker who plays saxophone, runs, does gymnastics and has a 4.1 gpa is amazing. Heck, being any kind of teenager who does that is amazing. She just doesn't have any confidence. I don't need her to have swagger, I just want her to be herself because she's wonderful. I just wish she could see it.
I'm attaching a picture that I love because I think she looks so confident and fierce in it.
She does look so fierce right here!! I think of myself as a teenager and am a completely different person. I went to a small school in a small town where everyone knew everything about you and you were desperately afraid to to be anything that could be judged. It haunted me until sophmore year of college when I had enough. I'm sure that Riley will have her moment when she is over the judgement, and I hope its sooner than I did. Just keep telling her she is amazing and fierce (insert teenage eye roll) and eventually she will believe you!
Love and Hugs
PS- I think swagger is a good thing :)
I'm so living this right now Julie. It's honestly one of the most difficult things I've faced as parent, outside of the NICU. It's so painful to sit on the sidelines and watch.
Sending you hugs. Hopefully our girls can work through this transition, and be the incredible people we see inside of them.
This entire post breaks my heart. I wish so much that I could let Riley see herself, for just one minute, how the rest of the world sees her. She's so strong, so smart, so beautiful, so resilient. But I was once a teenager (like you!) and we both know that no matter how many people tell us those things, until we see them ourselves, it's just not there. I am so glad she has you in her corner, on her side, helping her navigate these tough years.
And the whole 'blank spot' question? Well, who knows, right? I mean, sure, some of it might come from that brain bleed but you said yourself, what if it did? You can't go back and undo it. All you can do is continue to be there for her, help her figure it out, sometimes even, yikes, let her fall and help her get back up.
You're as amazing as she is. I truly hope you see that.
I love you both forever!
Hugs to Riley! And to you too! This parenting gig ain't for wimps. Maybe once she's through this 1/2 marathon she can take a break from all non-mandatory things and just hang with some friends. Just being a kid... not thinking about speaking engagements, training runs, saxophone practice, and school work. Just listening to music, hanging with her friends maybe playing games, making slow- motion videos and being silly sounds like just what she needs.
Hope she can find some down time.
And yes.... love this picture too!
love and hugs,
I have truly enjoyed watching your fighter grow up through your words. I wish she could see herself the way I see her. To me she is amazing. She is accomplishing so much with school, gymnastics, fundraising. Watching her in her element at the dance marathons makes me smile. I hate that she is feeling overwhelmed. I hate that she is struggling to see just how amazing she is on the inside and outside. I hope that she will find a moment of peace soon and that this slow down a bit for her.
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