"Can You Fix Her?": How to be the asshole mother of the year

Yesterday was a snow day. Where I live snow is a rarity. At its coldest, the temperature in the winter is in the high thirties and low forties. It snows maybe once a year, enough for outdoor snow play every two or three years.

Yesterday was a gift from the gods, an outdoor winter wonderland. In our neighborhood, a super hilly enclave bordering a lake, it was as if we’d been transported to a sledding village in the Alps. Everyone in the neighborhood came out in their colorful snow gear. People were sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing. Dogs were bounding down the hills and into the mounds of snow.

I’m a planner and a worrier, so even in exciting times when there’s something to look forward to, like sledding, I start overplanning which leads me to overthinking, and eventually worrying. As I thought out the day I started to worry about how my sixteen-year-old daughter could enjoy this. When she came upstairs and saw the snow she was happy and excited, but as the prospects of sledding with her parents clarified as her only option, she became increasingly sullen.

There were a few things going on. First, she wasn’t actually that into the idea of sledding. Second, as an only child times like this are hard. There’s no built-in playmate and hanging with your parents is just not that fun. Third, I was projecting all of my expectations onto her and completely missed every single one of her cues.

I managed to organize some of our family friends to drive over to our house to sled. They have a teenage daughter as well. I checked that off my box. Only child problem- CHECK. Then there was the issue of Lucia not really being into sledding. I nagged and cajoled and manipulated Lucia until she actually came outside to meet the family friends. Getting her to sled — CHECK.

We walked up to the top of our hill to sled down another side street where we met a friend of ours. She had been sledding by herself all morning. She’s a family friend as well and has no kids. Sometimes she’s good at relating to teens. Lucia was sitting on the sidewalk, her silence and facial expression clearly telling me that she was unhappy. My friend asked me what was wrong with her and I said, “I don’t know. Can you fix her?” And then I jumped in the sled and went down the hill.

I meant my comment about fixing Lucia to be tongue and cheek but the truth is I was really desperate (projecting) for Lucia to be enjoying the snow the way I thought she should. When I got up the hill I saw my friend sitting next to Lucia. I walked over and Lucia looked at me, glared really, and said, “Fix me. Really Mom?” And then she walked down the hill to our house.