Less than week left of eight grade for Cecilia. Which means less than a week of her returning home and my asking “How was your day?” and she responds, “Good.” “What did you do?” “Nothing.”
I realize that “Nothing” actually means “How am I supposed to answer that? Being fourteen is insane. Middle school is sorta insane. There are so many positive, exciting, hopeful, scary, sad, and disappointing things happening at the exact same time.”
So maybe I’m not asking the right question. Or maybe she’s tired of being asked. Maybe “How are you? or How was your day?” really are hard questions. Maybe I’ll think of better questions in high school.
I’ve learned that being a parent only gives you the slightest illusion of control. We don’t control much of what they do, or what they feel, or their heavy glitter pour, or strange distaste for vegetables.
But we do get to control how we look and react to things.
I’ve mentioned before the constant mental wrestling match with the state of our basement. Does messy mean they are slobs? Or does messy mean they are using the room as intended? How should I react?
I’m now having the same struggle with a teenager’s bedroom, the one I look at every time I climb the stairs. The one littered with clothes and other “important”… junk that can’t be moved. Is it worth fighting over? Or is it part of how they figure things out?
If she sees me make my bed every day, or clean up the kitchen after meals, or pick up a random sock, will that practice eventually sink in? Maybe. Better to model the behavior than rail against it. We choose what we see. That’s what we can control.
They are no longer little kids. I’m not sure why that occurred to me this week. Maybe it the birthday party for a friend. Or seeing some kids we hadn’t seen in a long time. Or revisiting places we hadn’t been in years. Something had me thinking about age, and time, and growing up. Or not growing up.
I came downstairs one morning and Cecilia, who is now taller than Michelle and certainly looks like an eighth grader, was happily watching a Disney show and I realized she looked bigger and older, but might not actually be bigger and more mature. Then I realized I was supposed to be older and confident and know what I was doing. But did I? Of course not.
There are many times I still feel like a insecure, nervous eighth grader. We all do. We all have a little imposter syndrome, no matter how young or old, and are full of doubts and concerns.
Sorry, girls, that feeling is not going away at 15, or 25, 45, or 75. It’s a universal part of the human experience. You gotta do your best to see through the posturing and be there for your friends and family. That’s one thing I’m confident about.
This past week Ce was happy. Not just happy, but unusually bubbly and helpful. So much so that both Michelle and I commented on it to each other almost in disbelief. I realize the moodiness is completely normal and will continue for the next few years. This was an unexpected rainbow in the midst of cloudy skies.
There are so many things that often don’t go right or go as you planned when you’re a parent. So many frustrations, stressors, requests, and obligations that can throw you off track. What are you going to focus on? Unless you make a hobby of gathering these impositions into a lint ball of resentment, the best course I can think of is to just recognize and appreciate these tiny miracles. Continue Reading
I had a business trip this week and someone left a Sports Illustrated in the seat pocket from the previous flight which included this amazing story of Keanon Lowe whose post-playing career appeared to be going nowhere. Turns out he was right where he was supposed to be.
It’s certainly not a direct comparison to Lowe, but I do often find myself lost and befuddled in the thicket of parenting. I thought it might get easier when they could talk or wipe their own butts or take a shower. Nope. Things only get harder, often in more subtle and insidious ways.
I feel stressed, overwhelmed, cranky and lost and that’s just trying to figure out the weekly meal schedule never mind navigating the social norms of fifth grade girls. My kids make me mad and make me melt thirty-six times a days but ultimately that is just being a parent. You gotta embrace both them and the moment no matter how challenging.
The two days of travel and the break from active parenting did offer some perspective. None of us really have any idea what life has in store for us even as it breaks our hearts or keeps kicking us when we are down.We gotta remember that we are not lost, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Not by chance or providence but because by our actions and our choices we make it where we are supposed to be. Parent on, people! Continue Reading
Saturday was the first dominoes night of 2018 and we were hosting, so we spent most of the day just straightening and prepping and making sure there was no undergarments lingering in odd places and that all the dried food scraps were scraped off the couch. It took most of the day. Exciting pictures ahead!
Having people over whether for pizza or dominoes always makes me remember how under-appreciated and overlooked these relationships often are in our lives, especially for someone around my age. Children and family are vital and joyous, but they take a lot of physical and mental energy.
As parents, you are their sole caretakers and the world quickly shrinks down to the boundaries of your offspring. You spend most of your time together: in the car, in the bathroom(!), in the kitchen. It would be weird if that close-knit warmth didn’t sometimes start to border on maddening. The happy turns to harried, the harried to the routine.
That is why it’s worth the effort of folding the two week old laundry pile, sweeping the floor, and shoving all the miscellaneous junk into drawers before your friends visit. It’s a sanity check. It’s opening up your world a little bit beyond the edges of your kid’s lunch box. They will commiserate, they will sympathize, they will console, they will make sure you’re not drinking alone. In short, they will make sure you don’t go crazy. A few household chores seems a small price to pay. Continue Reading
We did not travel this year for Thanksgiving. Well, we did, but it was just one town over. The end result of sharing food and time with family is always worth it, but for us, the drive down that harrowing Northeast corridor is never easy, even with the kids older now and not constantly on edge about blowing out diapers. It was nice to have a year off from road construction and turnpike rest stops.
It also left me plenty of time to bake and make dishes to bring over to our friends’s house on Thursday.
It ended up being an epic amount of food. There are probably still dishes I haven’t tried that were at the opposite end of the table. It was actually so much food, we re-gathered on Friday afternoon to do it again and try to make a dent in the leftovers.
But perhaps the best part of staying close was the lack of tolls on the short commute home and being in my elastic waisted pajamas pants by 8.