I’m a single parent. I have been the only provider and parent for the entirety of my child’s life. I have no family, but I have a great support system of friends whom I consider family.
I struggle-bussed through the first few years of being a single parent. I managed to scrape up and get two college degrees, a great paying job, and relatively quickly buy my own home. I am lucky to provide very easily, and my child is “humbly spoiled.” She doesn’t ask for a lot, and she’s very conscientious when she does ask for things (she’ll wait for it to be on sale, she’ll wait and see if it’s something she really wants/needs before asking… etc.).
She has always been the life of the party, so to speak. She’s never shy and has (had) a bubbling, sparkling personality. She literally is one of those people whose presence literally lights up the room. She has the biggest heart I have ever seen in any human being (for example, she asked me to pack two lunches because a kid was taking her lunch at school, and she wanted to make sure she had enough for herself and them). She would invite kids over that were having tough times at home that weren’t necessarily her friends, but she wanted to help them have some peace or a buddy for a day.
Our relationship was phenomenal. She came to me and talked to me about everything. She was very open and willing to hear alternative points of view and/or make suggestions on things she could do to navigate growing up and dealing with the typical conflicts that kids face. Usually, she would come to me right away when something was wrong, but there were times where she would stew on something for a bit before talking to me. I noticed right away, but she would ask for some space to think it over first, and after a day or so, she would talk to me about it.
She’s always had a bit of a temper, but it would take a lot for her to get angry. When she would reach her boiling point, she wouldn’t do anything that I think was drastic- maybe slam a door once, or tell her friend that aggravated her that she was done for today and needed some space- nothing alarming.
Cue the pandemic. I was lucky that I was able to work from home. As such, I decided to keep her home and have her do online school for the time being. I didn’t expect it to be almost a year, but it is what it is. She thrived online for the 2019–2020 school year. We had the occasional bumps where an assignment was missed here or there, but overall her grades improved significantly.
This year (2020–2021 school year), not so much. The first marking period was bumpy and frustrating as the school worked out the kinks of online learning. Everyone did their best to adjust, and I thought everything was fine.
Towards the end of November beginning of December, she started getting frustrated and annoyed quicker. She started demanding more “space” and really started rebelling about stuff like bedtimes, chores, and civil conversation. She refused to go to bed at a decent time and stayed up to 2 or 3 am. I tried to talk to her to see if something was bothering her, and she would become annoyed. I begged her to go to bed earlier because waking her up for school became a nightmare. Her grades tanked, which led to more frustrations. I’ve never been one to harp about a bad grade (for goodness sake, we’re all humans, it happens!), but with such a sharp decrease, I admit I did talk about school a lot more than we normally did. I asked if she needed help. If she couldn’t understand, she needed help remembering to turn stuff in on time. She answered that she didn’t feel like doing it.
Things just started spiraling. Every conversation would turn into her saying something hateful. She was always angry. She would rage that I didn’t make her breakfast right, or scream at me that it was my fault she missed an assignment,- and so on. I mean, I knew something was up; I didn’t know what. She refused to talk to me about anything other than hurtful comments about things that I did wrong. I felt (feel) like such a failure as a parent.
Yesterday (Thursday), she picked a fight with me out of the blue. At this point, I’m defeated. I’m exhausted from months of her constantly putting me down and constantly belittling me. Instead of engaging in the argument, I just asked her to hand over her devices (typically, when she’s punished, she hands over her tablet/phone / and computer) and that we would talk about her behavior when I was done cooking dinner. She refused and started calling me names. I reached over to grab the tablet myself, and she grabbed my arm and scratched the hell out of me. I didn’t even initially react because I was so shocked that she was actually physically hurting me. She screamed hysterically that I’m a terrible mother and a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m just too exhausted to type out. Rather than talk to her when she’s unreasonable, I told her we would talk about it the next day (Friday). She definitely needed some time to cool off. Needless to say, I was a mess all night. I hardly slept and was upset.
I got her up in the morning for school and was generally surprised that she didn’t grumble that much. We didn’t talk much during the day other than me popping in to check if she needed help with anything for school or offer snacks, food… etc. And she was pleasant. My lunch break rolls around, and I decided I would rest a little- I have a headache from hell, I’m exhausted because I slept maybe 2 hours if I’m lucky, my eyes are puffy from crying all damn night. She asked if we could talk right now,- and I asked if we could wait until after work/school hours so I could take some time to relax and get myself together. She said she wanted her stuff back (tablet, phone… etc.) and that we were going to talk now. I probably should have stood my ground and had the conversation on my terms in the afternoon as I originally wanted, but I relented and started to talk.
I laid down some new ground rules. I suggested the therapy in the hopes that she may be able to sort out her feelings with someone else if she didn’t want to talk to me. She listened to everything I was saying and offered some suggestions/negotiations, and I thought I was getting through to her. Out of nowhere- literally, nowhere, she tells me that I’m a “terrible f*cking mom.” And that I should kill myself.
I lost my shit. I have never in my life been hysterical or irrational with her. Sure, I’ve raised my voice, but I have never screamed at her- I’ve always tried to maintain a calm conversation and was respectful. I have never hit her. But that was my breaking point. I’m ashamed to say that I attempted to slap her. I didn’t actually slap her, but I tried to. She lunged at me and punched and scratched my face. And she kept punching and clawing.
I don’t know where to go from here. I’ve already scheduled therapy as I planned from the initial incident. I was able to get a rushed “emergency” appointment since there were two physical altercations. I’ve also already decided that if she does it again, I don’t think I have any other choice but to call the police because it’s escalating drastically and quickly. I’m so humiliated and saddened by all of this. My heart is breaking because she’s hurting, and I can’t help her.
I feel so alone. I honestly don’t know what else I can do.
Has anyone gone through something similar? What the hell am I doing wrong? For those who did go through something similar, was your relationship with your child permanently damaged? What worked/didn’t work?