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Sunday, January 16, 2011

long haul parenting

I am such an idiot.

I remember last year, being in the thick of it crazy-wise with the kids, especially Maya, wanting to pull my hair out and craving something that required use of my brain cells rather than my (very poor) referee skills.  A mom, with teenage and college age kids said to me, "You know it just gets harder. Little kids, little problems.  Big kids, big problems."

I smiled and thought, inwardly:  Clearly you have amnesia. Obviously you don't recall what it is like to have people scream like they are being axed when the zipper is stuck on their coat, to have them take off on you in public venues, to hit and spit and shove their sibling over a plastic pony.  Oh, and you must not remember what whining sounds like.

This past week I have spoken with a few moms who have older kids.  They are dealing with issues such as drug use, blatant disrespect, looking back across 18 years of parenting and wondering how their best intentions resulted in a nearly grown child who shows no signs of the individual they thought they were cultivating.

My 8-year-old niece is dealing with catty girls from her Girl Scout Troop who taunt her, tell her she is not wanted in the group and one who told her she was going to come into her room at night while she is sleeping and hurt her.

Don't even get me started on the puberty, sex, alcohol thing.

A few weeks ago Ella wore one of those fun jester winter hats to school and one of the kids said she looked like a clown and now she refuses to wear it.  Forget that I explained that the kid likely wasn't being mean, that it is a jester hat and jesters were clowns...she won't wear it.

So this is why I'm an idiot-  I didn't BELIEVE the mom who told me.  I just tried to humor her as she said it. Actually, it wasn't really an option to believe her.  I don't think in that moment I could have handled the thought that what I was doing was the EASY part.

Now, along with my other mantras (You will miss this and Surrender to the moment)  I think I have to add this one:  small potatoes.   It has to be no big deal when Maya draws all over her humidifier and our newly painted wall, when she poops in the tub and pees the bed for the third time this week.  It has to be no big deal when Ella changes her clothes 3 times a day, lies right to my face about something insignificant and screams bloody murder in a boy-who-cried-wolf manner in the absence of any real emergency.

I held Maya's hand tonight while we snuggled in her bed.  I tried to memorize the slightness of her fingers and the tuck of her head into my neck.  Small potatoes. Yes, I do believe that mom was correct.  I will take these little problems in the safety of our house, rather than the big problems waiting outside our door.


Emilie said...

amen, sister.

Elizabeth said...


Don't despair!!It is not inevitable that you will have to deal with drug problems, blatant disrespect and other "big problems" when your girls are teenagers. Though not always perfect angels, my teenagers were actually pretty easy--it was fun watching them turn into the wonderful adults they have become.

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