Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Phase I’m In

I’m considering writing a book on Parenting.

CHAPTER 1:  It’s hard.
CHAPTER 2:  It’s fun!
CHAPTER 3:  It’s pretty hard.
CHAPTER 4:  It smells weird. 

I’m telling you, you’re going to want to buy multiple copies.  One thing I learned when I got pregnant for the first time is that people enjoyed making jokes about how I wouldn’t sleep for 18 years, as if that was going to be the hardest part.  Newsflash:  It’s not.  Don’t worry though, if you’re a parent of young ones I’m not about to tell you how easy it is to have small kids now that I no longer claim that phase of life.  The only scenario under which I would return to that period of time is if I could do so in 2 hour increments, and if I could choose the increments to be after naps, before bedtime, and during a Disneyland ride followed by ice cream.  And for the record, you will sleep again and it won’t take 18 years.  However, you will still have sleepless nights. 

Right now it’s 5:00 am and I’ve been up for 45 minutes already.  Not because my baby is awake and screaming but because the world is awake and screaming at my babies and it stresses me out.  Here’s a little note I would like to write to anxiety:  In the future I would appreciate it – and I mean “appreciate” in the way I appreciate not bleeding to death –  if you could wait at least (at least!) until 7:00 am on a Saturday before you nudge me alert with visions of doom and woe.  ARE WE CLEAR?

As a parent of teenagers I’m learning that most of the things I have worried about are not the things that are worrying me.  I guess I convinced myself that if I could keep my kids off drugs, immorality and free from kidnappers the only thing left to do was bask in glittery fairy dust.  But so far I’ve done all that and yet here I sit, at 5:00 am, already waiting for the day to be over.  Nobody told me that one of the hardest parts about parenting would be watching your kid meet rejection and disappointment; that one day you would see a host of kids heading off to a party that yours wasn’t invited to.  That you would stand on sidelines watching other people's kids light up the "stage" while yours sat on the outskirts waiting to be noticed.  That you would have to witness your kid leave the room after bad news to assume a position face down on the couch with a pillow over their head so you wouldn’t see them cry.  Nobody told me that seeing your kid hurting would be worse than a thousand needles in the eye.  Oh, and the needles are on fire.  And coated in cayenne pepper.

Another hard part about the phase I’m in is figuring out how to “be there” when you’re not the one they want to talk to.  Oh, I almost forgot about CHAPTER 5:  YOU’RE NOT THE ONE THEY WANT TO TALK TO.  Except I’m sure your kids won’t be like that.  (They will probably be like that.)  I try to appeal to them by getting out the scrapbooks and showing them pictures of when we used to cuddle on the couch but it doesn’t seem to ignite warm feelings.  So then I try buying them their favorite chocolate milk and they love it!  They hug the gallon like it’s their best friend.  You might think this is the right time to go in for a hug yourself. 

It’s not.

You’re supposed to leave the chocolate milk at the door and get out.

I am fortunate, because our good times are good and we have a lot of them.  There’s a big difference in conversation when you can talk using full sentences – we’ve come a long way from Samantha telling me to “push it out, mama” back when she was small enough that we still had to share a public bathroom stall.  But this part - the disappointment - was easier when they were little, when tears could be wiped away with my hand, love could be showered with hugs and kisses, and peace could be restored with Cheez-Its and The Aristocats.

Oh, I know it’s only temporary.  I just didn’t know it would be this hard.  And seriously, it ALWAYS smells weird.

8 comments:

Heidi said...

Thank you for the heads up. My oldest will be a teenager soon.... You're really a good writer.

Kerri said...

I hear you loud and clear and walking the same path. Wish we could coat them in a bubble to protect anything coming their way. But then, I always tell myself, what kind of adults would they be? Not that I feel any better after saying it.

laurie said...

Empathy, that's what I have. I watched my 13 yr old be completely neglected on an 8th grade Disneyland trip by all the other kids. He tried to be with them but they always left him behind. I was pretty much his only friend that day. Heartbreaking!! I was seriously troubled over what his future would hold. Now, a new school, some maturity and two years later...he's nominated for homecoming royalty and star of the XC team. Something I could have never imagined for him. Don't lose hope. And I'm in this strange minority of mom's who's son still likes to hug his Mom. For that I'm amazingly grateful. ♥ Sorry for your heartache. I'd like to say it gets easier, but I have two married daughters now and I still worry about them! I guess the saying "you'll always be my baby" is truly fitting.

Cynthia said...

I remember hearing my sister talk about how hard it was to parent teens while I was exhausted with my toddlers. I thought she was crazy until my kids became teens. Every word of your post resonates with me. It is hard to parent teens, and now I'm finding it's hard to parent young adults. But you are right, the good times are really good. Enjoy the ride!

Jenn said...

As the mom of three girls--12, 14, 16--I so appreciated your post. I remember people telling me to enjoy them when they were young because it would only get harder. Like you, I would not choose to go back to all of their younger years (only certain parts), but it is just as hard now, only in a different way. I am not as physically tired, but am way more emotionally taxed. (The waking up at 5:00 and stressing scene is one I know well!) I know we will get through this stage as we have all the rest...I just hope we all come out happy and well adjusted on the other side. At least I don't have the weird smells to deal with... :)

Emily Foley said...

Everybody says parenting is hard but nobody has ever articulated it quite like the cayenne needle. Thank you for the words I've been searching for.

Stefani said...

Well there's really nothing left to say that you haven't so eloquently said and that the other readers comments have summed up. I agree 100% (and then some) with EVERYTHING!

I am extremely glad I don't have to deal with the stress and worry and sleepless nights that I might have to if my kids were into drugs, immorality or had been kidnapped - but ya... I am about to START drugs to get a decent nights sleep.

I tell myself over and over in the night, "Doubt your doubts first"... you know, like Pres. Uchtdorf says.

Thanks for understanding.

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

Such a great post. You so nailed it.

The phases are all hard and sometimes feels unbearable.