College Saved my Relationship with my Mom

When I was 12 years old, I told myself that I’d never be the teenager who yelled, “Nobody understands me!” with a door slam to follow. I always saw teenage girls in TV shows and movies do this and thought they were being dramatic and ridiculous. I sided with the parents who sat on the other side of the door slam and felt bad for them. 

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Then, I turned 15 just like the characters and I finally understood that teenage angst was my rite of passage. While I never spoke aloud the famous cliche liner, I definitely thought it a lot throughout my teen years and it might have masked as something else (I think “Ugh, okay mom!” was my equivalent). This is not to say that I eye-rolled at just anything my mom would say but it sure seemed that way in high school.

Before college, I attended a high school where a full course-load of APs and a couple of extracurricular were just enough to stay competitive. I woke up at five am for my seven am zero period, got home at nine pm from extracurricular, and went to bed at three am after finishing my homework just to wake up in two hours to do it all over again. I mean, I’d like to think that’s a rough schedule for a teenager to be on but for my high school, it was the norm and for my mom, it wasn’t doing enough. In her eyes, I was lazy. Lazy because my room was a mess. Lazy because my assignment was anything but an A. Lazy because I wasn’t trying hard enough to be a natural at math.  

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When I came home from school early, I’d take a guilt-ridden nap and wake up before 3:30 pm. That’s when my mom came home and that was the time I rushed to the shower to avoid being yelled at. Sometimes it would be the place where I cried my eyes out because it was the only place I was truly alone. Yeah, that was my life.

So, you could see how the “nobody understands me” sentiment was potentially justified on my part. I truly felt like nobody did and by nobody, I meant especially my mom.

Things between us were so horrible that by the time senior year came around, I wanted to move out and stay with my dad who I hadn’t seen and spoken to in six years at the time. I thought that at least he wouldn’t be on my case all the time and print out my grades every week to highlight anything unsatisfactory. I ended up waiting for college to make my great escape where I’d never go home and lose all contact with her.

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Fortunately, that plan never happened the way I envisioned it. When I left for college, I had the opportunity to become my own person and be an adult with a great amount of independence. I got to say when I did my homework, what my money gets to be spent on (with a few harangues every now and then, on how I live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget), and a “B” didn’t seem to bother her as much anymore. Going to UCSB was like letting out the biggest sigh of my life and a step in letting go of my past. It’s the distance that helped heal most of our wounds. 

I went from never wanting to speak to her again to talking to her almost every day and it was me who called more. She jokes that I call her like I’m a bill collector and admittedly, I probably do call her that much. The talking was just the beginning of our new relationship and it allowed me to confide in her more.

I shared just about everything: boys, drama, and my first experience with alcohol. My other friends couldn’t fathom ever sharing anything like that but for me, it seemed so normal. It was like talking to a friend and updating on everything going on in your life.

Ever since then, I referred to my mom and I as Lorelai and Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls because we have such a best friend type of familial relationship and we're close in age like they are. We have our secret shopping trips, we have our jokes, and we still have our downs. No relationship is perfect but I’m glad that we still do have one and that it’s great.

Distance helped set boundaries and gave me the independence that I needed to help me grow as a person and in turn, helped our relationship take a step in a healthier direction. Long story short: college saved my relationship with my mom. 

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