Sunday, May 15, 2016

How nice I feel it would be, to just sit back and enjoy the ride as a passenger in this life.
Which, essentially, we are.  All of us.  Just passengers.
At times it FEELS as if we have some sort of control over the trajectory of our days.
And maybe we do a little bit.
But for the most part, I think we just might be hurtling through time and space in these skin suits at the mercy of something greater.
Feels a bit more freeing to go with that and say, "Well?  I just don't know about anything so am going to carry on, doing my thing, being kind, giving back and hope for the best." 

BUT.  We are human while we're here.  With human thoughts, human feelings, human emotions, human reactions, fragile ego's we believe are us and feel we have to protect at all times.  And it's REALLY hard as a human parent to sit by and watch your children, these little beings entrusted to you,  
fail, fall, make mistakes, do stupid things, be idiots, miss the hurtfulness in their words and actions, not think before they speak. . .all of that. 
Totally oblivious to the fact they are not the only ones on the planet (although they have been the apple of our eye since they first arrived here.)

So I know, at times, it is our duty as parents to grab the wheel for sec.
Slam on the brakes, rather and say, "HOLD up.  Whoa.  THAT is NOT okay."

There comes a point in parenting. . .seems to me to be the 9, 10, 11 age, where they are still your beautiful little gifts from God, the babies you held and rocked to sleep just yesterday
but their "cuteness" has worn off.  They are as tall as you now, with attitudes to match.
They are no longer soft, pudgy, rolls of goodness, but sharp-angled edges that require deodorant, man-sized shoes, all accessorized by adult-sized opinions and EMOTIONS strong and unpredictable like storm surges.  
(Grace's general attitude about things.)
And I'm learning to take these new parts of them in stride each day.  But man oh man, it is NOT easy.
Here's why.  
The part of me (my ego) that wants to control them and the outcomes of their lives and make sure they are living up to their fullest potential as humans and friends and siblings and representing us as parents and their family well, is in FULL FORCE and I'm not sure how to reel it in.  
We don't want to be "THOSE" parents with "THOSE" jerk-store kids who don't say please and thank you, aren't respectful, walk around like they own the place.  Am I right?
(You can just FEEL the pure joy emanating from the little hairs on their little heads, see it in Jack's fake smile, about having to pick up garbage downtown Stillwater with our local church on a Saturday.  You'd have thought I was asking them to grout tile in the sewer amongst the rats.)
And I wonder if I need to?  Intervene all the time?  Assert my authority as the mother figure?
Or is this truly where the rubber meets the road in parenting?
Where we start to get in to the thick of things and have to undo all the bad habits we created in them as toddlers and get it right before they turn 16 and they're lost to a sea of hormones and other teens and boyfriends and girlfriends and fast cars and alcohol and AGHHHHH!

The hours I have alone with the kids that allow me to impart all of my hard-earned motherly wisdom on them is plentiful at this point in their lives and so I take advantage and it comes out in one of two ways. . .lovingly and calmly in a soothing, nurturing voice,  
OR (most likely,) 

And it all becomes one long word they can't quite make out, that usually involves some cursing.  So they know the pot's about to boil over and they best hightail it out of my space or sit quietly without moving and wait until I'm done.

I know mothers who have raised ACTUAL teenagers and college-age kids look at me, the mere mother of an 11, 9 and 7 year old and say, "Oh Honey.  This is the easy stuff.  THIS time is what dreams are made of.  You have no idea what's to come, my dear."
Pat on the head, a push/shove on my back, back into this simple life I think is "hard."

Nevertheless, I continue on and roll up my sleeves and sit across from my oldest son, who, for some time, seems to think he knows more than me and is never wrong and EVERY time is questioned about something he may or may not have done, is on the defense.  He is so smart and I learn a lot from HIM daily.  BUT I'm still his mother and will not hesitate to call him out on this business.

I sit on the edge of his brother's bed directly across from him, where he's been sulking and pouting because I've taken away his DS for the last time for treating his sister like crap and being rude to his little brother who just adores him.  (It's the taking away of the privileges i.e.  any form of electronics that is required nowadays.)  And I mean business.
The electronic goodness he loves so much is gone indefinitely until he can put more effort into being the kind, loving soul we know he is at his core and is capable of summoning forth.
I look him in the eyes and begin.  Calmly, in this case.

"Here's how this is going to go, sir.  
You're old enough and mature enough to understand what I'm saying.  
So the best you can, hear the words coming out of my mouth, so we can work together, try again and get this right so we don't have to keep taking things away from you that you love and bring you joy, in order for you to do the work we need you to do,
separated from all those distractions." 
"Listen," I say. 
"Yes."  He glares at me through tears, and I know I have his attention.

"I don't know why you were put here.
Why God gave YOU to US.  What His plan is for you.
What your PURPOSE is here.
But until then?
Until you figure that out?
You have one thing to do.
Just one thing.
Every day you wake up?
All you have to do, is be kind.
Just be kind.  
Even when you don't feel like it, even if you don't like someone, even if you yourself are having a bad day.  
Even if you're mad at someone.
Even if you are SUPREMELY annoyed with your siblings/friends/parents/whoever (which we all are at times,)

That's the only thing you have to do right now in your 11-year-old life.
You are ABSOLUTELY allowed to get angry, to feel annoyed, to be frustrated, to cry.  To need to take a break, go for a walk, hide out for a bit, whatever.
I'll even let you throw stuff in your room or stomp your feet if you feel the need.. . .all of that.
Feel those things, let them be there, BUT only for a moment.  And then?   
Move on and be grateful.
Remind yourself how blessed you are to have all you have.
Remind yourself although irritating as hell sometimes, 
those two little people (brother and sister,) love you and adore you and surprisingly, like to be around you.
And after we're gone They're all you've got.


He doesn't say a word.  

"Did you hear all the things I just said?"

"Yes," he nods, holding back tears. 

"Ok.  Meet me downstairs when you're ready and apologize to your brother for shoving him into the wall."

My presidential speech is on repeat, these days.  How much effort if requires on our part, big-time consistency, to drill these little nuggets of wisdom and truth it in to their heads.
But that is what we do.
Because we KNOW they're capable of so much more.
We don't expect perfection.  God noI know full well now "perfection" is a nice idea, but doesn't actually exist and if it were to, would be a request too large for a human being to live up to.  
BUT.  We expect you to be kind.  Put yourself in others' shoes.  If you're going to say something nasty, mean, judgmental, stop for a second and ask yourself if it's worth it. 

I am ALL for allowing them to make mistakes.
Gosh, that is where our greatest growing takes place.
And I'm all for giving them the freedom to explore, create, ask a bajillion questions, push back, buck the system, find their own way in this crazy world.  
I LOVE to step out of the way (most of the time,) and let THEM see where something goes.  But I also can't let actions and behavior that aren't "right" go unchecked.

I LOVE being able to nurture these large personalities and assuage their fears, teach them about bravery and courage, kindness and compassion.  What humility means and the importance of doing your best yet trusting you are enough as you are and are loved NO MATTER WHAT.
Complaining and whining about things that they shouldn't be, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut on.  Because they are older now and need to understand a little more about gratitude and appreciation and know their needs will not be catered too all the time and they will have to do some work.  I do NOT like me a "victim" attitude or self-pity.  So how do I relay that calmly and so they GET it?
I suppose a lot of it is not only the "talking" about it, but being an example of those things.

And then some days, we let THEM figure it out.  Keep quiet.  Just keep quiet.
 (I made the mistake of letting Grace buy a teen magazine in a mad rush to get out of the grocery store.  "Sure.  Whatever."  And within an hour her wall was plastered with teen heart throbs.  "Mom!  Look what I did!"  I think I fell to my knees and pounded the floor with my fists and yelled, "NNNNNOOOOOO!"  No I didn't, out loud.  But in my head I did.  Instead, "Oh.  That's. . .nice. . .honey."  And my heart sank and I cried a bit and thought, "Well.  Here we are."

"Isn't he so cute?  Look at his flawless skin, mom.  And his super white teeth.  I wonder how he gets his teeth so white?  Isn't he gorgeous?"  She said with the innocence of Sally Brown oodling over Linus.  "Isn't he aaaadddddooorable?" 

The next morning I woke up and all the posters were down and cramed into the small bathroom garbage, spilling out the sides.  I met her in the hallway in the morning outside her room.  "What happened to all your posters?"  

Oh.  Yeah.  That.  Yeah, I couldn't fall asleep with Harry Style's staring at me all night.  It was creeping me out.  So, they're in the garbage."

YES!  Thank you, Jesus!  We still have more time with her innocence!  Of course, I played it cool.  "Oh.  Yeah.  I suppose that would be weird.  Good thinkin'."

So, we carry on.  Sometimes keep our mouths shut.  Step out of their way and ours.  But also learn when to step in, help guide the path of their life in a humble, more gracious and compassionate direction.  And PRAY if they won't listen to us, hopefully they'll listen to a trusted coach, teacher, friend, grandparent.
 ("Dad?  Anything you have to show me or tell me that will make my life easier?  I'm not hearing.  I don't care about what you have to say.  BBUUUTTT. . .if you could get Justin Bieber to tell me that exact same thing?  I'll be sure to listen and take it all in and heed his words of advice.")  -Daughter




Unknown said...

Love it! reread and Loved it again! Thanks for your thoughts and path and preview and allowing all of us to not be perfect and love our kids! Love your writing, thanks for this post, I am saving it. I know I will need it more than once.

Glafcke Family of Eight said...

I just had this exact conversation with my 7 and 9 year olds this afternoon. What a relief to know that my kids aren't the only ones. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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