Monday, March 3, 2014

Transition


And just like that, I’m no longer a parent of little kids.

How did that happen?  It was amazingly fast. 

Our kids are big ones now.  And getting bigger, if our orthodontist is to be believed.  He took an x-ray of my son’s hand the other day and said that he has 70% of his growing yet to do.

This is ducking-through-doorways big.

The size I can take.  I can even take the growing senses of humor, intelligence, and the fact that we are all finally enjoying the same types of movies.  I’m slowly getting used to the kids staying up until MY bedtime.

But being a parent of big kids is harder than I thought it would be.

And not because of the behavior issues.  Sure, there are the new attitudes and words and whabang your offspring just zinged you with a truth that you didn’t even see coming.  The you don’t know mes that simultaneously wound me and cause the corners of my mouth to turn up a little. 

I don’t know you?  What DON’T I know?

Turns out it’s kind of a lot.  I don't know what they are thinking right now, how they feel about war, or death, or that their best friend has the mouth of a truck driver.  If they have that mouth.  How many times they say “My mom is clueless” or “She’ll never find out” or “I’m not telling her.”  If I’m finally, finally, dumber than everyone else.  It’s hard to give up the knowing.

It’s hard to put the old habits away, to say no to things they ask of me not because they can't do it themselves, but because they’re feeling lazy, uninspired, or rebellious.  Cleaning rooms used to be a formality; after they cleaned I’d swoop in discreetly and re-order things.  I’d discard stained clothing and outgrown shoes.  Now I peer into rooms and close the door against the mess, reminding them to sort through their piles of crap.  They roll their eyes at me.  We know, mom.

Making meals, social plans, decisions to stay at home or join me on errands – these are, for the most part, their choices now.  I no longer need to micromanage their work.  I try to.  They rebuke me.  We’ve got it, mom.

The girl – still a tween, still in elementary school – still needs me to do things.  To tell me things.  To have my hands at her arms’ length.  But sometimes I sense that I’m her crutch.  This is how it starts.  I pull away at these times, not wanting to create a dependency that is spawned by doubt in her own abilities.  The perfect storm of femaleness and adolescence is knocking.  We dance together, pushing and pulling.  It’s uncertain which one of us will lead today.

I reminisce about the olden days, a lifetime ago when feeding schedules and the fear of a ringing phone waking napping kids after a sleepless night ruled my consciousness.  When I’d collapse at eight o’clock after a day of taking care of small bodies and needs had ended.  I don’t want those days back, but I do wonder exactly when it happened that 8 pm isn’t the end of the day anymore.  Sometimes the day ends after I go to bed.

It’s hard for me to change, to not see myself as caretaker, hero, and boo-boo kisser.  I can say eat your vegetables and no more cookies but a week ago there was a whole pack of Hershey bars in our pantry and now it’s gone.

I didn’t even get any.

Where is my place in this system?  My role is shifting – I didn’t authorize that.  What is happening?  I’m not ready for these changes.  I haven’t organized everything yet.  I never got comfortable, never had the opportunity to say I got this.  I’m expected to be even more flexible, more on my toes, more go with the flow.  At least I know why my ability to plan things has all but vanished.

These kids.  They are aging.  Changing.  They are forcing me into it, too. 

Our interweavement is unraveling. I’ve got to keep my eye on their escaping threads, while at the same time keeping a handle on my own.  I don’t want to watch them go on without knowing my own ends.

This transition is hard.  The worst thing about it is although I saw it coming, I never really knew what it would look like.


*******

52 comments:

  1. Oh, my gosh...reading your words has sent me into tears for the second time today over this very topic. "Our interweavement is unraveling." Oh, yes...perfectly worded. And sometimes it just undoes me to watch the unraveling. Today is one of those days. I echo every sentiment you've shared her. My consolation is...I guess since reading your words like they are my own must mean there's some 'normal' to all of this....right??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely. It's my only consolation - knowing that everyone else feels this way. It makes me feel less like a sentimental, blubbering old outlier and more within the normal range of how humans are supposed to behave. Sorry about the tears. xoxo

      Delete
  2. I want to cry. my big one is so close to being a tween. It horrifies me. Should I have more children and be like the Duggars? I am considering it. Totally irrational.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Duggar-ing it would bring about a whole other level of issues - that is, more childhoods to mourn. But that's just me. ;)

      Delete
  3. Eeeek. I'm not ready for this. My son (who's 8) asked me the other day if he was a tween. I said NO! but then realized that's really not far off anymore. It's ALWAYS the transitions, though isn't it? Since they're newborns, the absolute hardest parenting times are the in-betweens, when you have to figure everything out all over again. EEEEEK.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - figuring everything out again, over and over, is killing me. This one is a doozy.

      Delete
  4. I have thought about this many times. I'm not sure I'll ever be ready.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the whole thing of it, isn't it? We are never ready. I console myself with knowing that I am not alone.

      Delete
  5. I've been thinking these very same things, Andrea. Glad we have each other as we navigate this!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mine is two and a half and I can't get her to bed before 11. she is a night owl and i just let her putter til she collapses. I have never had an end of the day at 8 pm since she'S BEEN BORN! So impressed by organized mothers...sigh...and even though i am still in the semi baby stage your post is very relatable for me as well. At two, the sudden passionate need to push me away is as powerful as her need to keep me close. i guess after about one year, it is a life time of push pull, huh? Still worth it, despite the nostalgia and confusion, right? thanks, as always, for the great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! Each stage is a push and pull, and I mourned every one of them when they passed. Funny, while I don't see myself as resistant to change, it's exactly what I am when it comes to my kids.

      Delete
  7. On one hand, I envy where you are right now.
    On the other, I so very dread it. As much as I sigh dramatically when one or the other wants something that only Mama can do/ provide, I love it.
    I know I'll miss it. I know I'll feel lost as I navigate all the coming transitions.
    You said it so well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so much better off for having trepidation about these stages. I said "Bring It!" to each new phase. And it's in the middle of the new phase that I start looking back with nostalgia.

      Delete
  8. I feel like Alison - I envy the independence. Mine are four and one.
    I also am dreading it. I know it will be here faster than I will be able to believe.
    I guess there are pros and cons to it all.
    And now I get why people have third (or fourth or fifth) children!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least you realize that the growing up is coming. It bopped me right on the head. Having the third, fourth or fifth sounds reasonable to prolong the agony, but then I think about them growing up too, and I don't think I could handle this any more times.

      Delete
  9. It's such a strange place, isn't it? This is how we end up with new babies when we turn 46. I'm convinced of it. OMG I cannot believe I just wrote that. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely know you're right. But I also know that if I become pregnant anytime soon, I'm in serious trouble in more than one way. :)

      Delete
  10. Oh boy. I'm at every stage of parenting right now- with step kids in high school and a little guy in preschool, and I feel like I'm simultaneously loving and hating going through the young kid phase again. It's so surreal, all of it. By the way I'm in love with that photo of your daughter in the mirror. P.S. Why did your ortho take an x-ray of your son's hand? Did he slip with the x-ray machine?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surreal is a great way to define it, and you certainly are going through a lot of different stages with that age range. How did we get here? I didn't know time was supposed to go this fast. And yet here is my daughter applying lipstick in the foyer.

      And ha ha ha - the ortho was doing a growth plate x-ray to find out how much more he has to grow before he recommends correction - i.e., are these teeth gong to move any more?

      Delete
  11. Our oldest is now 30. Just wait 'til you learn their politics don't align with yours, either ... Fabulous writing, Andrea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joe! Oh, the politics - never thought of that one. One step at a time, and deep breaths all around. :)

      Delete
  12. I'm so feeling this right now. I knew it would be harder as they got older, but not so exhausting! It is so weird to know what my role is, I miss having more control like when they were little, BUT it is pretty intersesting & exciting to see who they are becoming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is exciting! Unlike you, I thought it would get easier. How wrong I was in every single way. Now I just wish I stumbled a little less through it all.

      Delete
  13. Oh how I love this post and the accompanying last picture. How is it possible to have caught such a cute picture? Those faces! And I am headed in exactly that direction.

    Hold me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha Thanks Jennie! I likely took this picture probably because it was the first time they had eaten a snack in their playroom without being supervised. Look at the mess! How many times I cleaned it all up.

      You are not far behind, it's true. If we hold each other maybe we'll get through unscathed?

      Delete
  14. I felt this exact way about a year ago when I realized the "baby" years were done for me. I can see it just keeps on going, doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. After every phase comes a new one to get used to and wave goodbye to.

      Delete
  15. I really enjoyed reading this and will likely reference it many times between now and then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Corie! Yes. Keep this for reference, if only to remind you not to be such a sap about your kids as I am. Or possibly to keep from talking about how unsentimental you are about your kids. Which is exactly what I did when my kids were small. Boy am I eating my words.

      Delete
  16. Throat meet lump.

    My kids will be 15 and 17 this summer.
    I can hardly believe I just typed those numbers.

    So yes. I understand every word of this.
    And then some.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, boy. So I'm in for it, yes?

      At least I can see that you're still functioning. This gives me hope for my own (near) future - that I will be able to get through this whole thing.

      Whose idea was it to have these kids, anyway?

      Delete
  17. Andrea, i love reading your well-organized thoughts, and this hits particularly close to home. Remember those sleepless nights of infancy, when you want to cry too? They seem so long ago, as today we celebrate college acceptance letters, and i am admonished with,"Really Mom, you are making too big deal out of this." His favorite meal is a big deal? I guess we should know he would rather be celebrating with friends at Applebee's. Hrrumph.

    The "unraveling" continues...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Meggin. I know you're feeling this especially these days. I can so hear mine try to tamp down my excitement about every little thing, too.

      Sigh.

      Delete
  18. Not ready not ready not ready. Makes me teary just to think about it. This is beautifully written!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I don't think any of us will be ready. ::sniff::

      Delete
  19. I hope you know that you are sort of blazing this trail for me. I am a little bit behind you with kids somewhat younger but I love this look ahead and you paint the picture with beauty and honesty in your words. This is really amazing writing about motherhood, Andrea. Thank you for sharing this part of it with us. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Elaine. It's so reassuring that so many can relate - or at least see this stage in their near future. It's comforting, because this has been hard for me!

      Delete
  20. This is why I mourn the growing up. They are only ours for such a little while and then they are theirs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - they will be theirs, soon. These years - they go by too fast, just like everybody has always said. I don't know why I wasn't more prepared.

      Delete
  21. You've got me bawling here. And it is because I DO see it coming. Almost from the moment they were babies I knew this was coming. That may be overly dramatic, but that's just me. I am constantly trying to enjoy the exact moment we are in RIGHT NOW because I know it is fleeting. And that constantly trying to be present put so much PRESSURE on me. And I feel guilty when I'm not enjoying every second.
    I have a feeling I will have a hard time with this next phase that is coming up. Yes, my kids are still relatively young. They still all need me. But I see it coming. And too quickly.

    What a beautiful post. So glad Elaine linked to it on FB.
    Thank you for this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Kat! I appreciate you taking the time to comment! You are smart to have your eyes wide open. I don't begrudge my kids their growing up and learning new things. I just did not expect to take it like this. I wasn't supposed to be this sentimental.

      Delete
  22. Me too, Kat. I was bawling when my eldest was about 2 weeks old to my husband: "He's going to leave us one day!" He said "That's so far away!" and I said, "Not really! Just wait and see how fast it's going to go!"

    One of the few times I wish I hadn't been so correct. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember those bawling days. When my son was an infant I did the same thing, wailing to my husband that I loved our son so much and I didn't know how to do everything for him. These days, there are no emotional outbursts, but I still feel kind of the same way. :)

      Delete
  23. Oh, Andrea... this got me. I am not there yet - but I see it on the horizon. My oldest is 9 and becoming more his own person every day. My youngest wants to do everything his older brother does, so I know that his independence is going to grow quickly too. I am bewildered by it all sometimes. I feel like it's too fast - but at the same time I marvel at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I marvel at it too, Kim! The whole watching them become who they are is so intriguing. But yes - also bewildering.

      Delete
  24. Wow, Andrea. This was incredible. I am glad I will be able to talk to you when I am going through this :-) You know, once you figure out how to do it PERFECTLY.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kiran! Yes - doing it perfectly. I aspire to it, and fail it every.single.day. I will let you know how to avoid my huge missteps. :)

      Delete
  25. I can't even think about this. Still trying to figure out how to handle the independence Zilla has at five. I am going to be a disaster. This was all beautifully said and I hope I am half as pulled together about all this when I get there as you seem to be with yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lisa. You will be a great mother, because you are a great mother. You will figure it out. It might take some stops and starts, but if I (queen of the slow learners) can do it, so can you. xoxo

      Delete
  26. This is not a period of time that I am looking forward to! I know my little boy will grow up, but I want it to come slowly, ever so slowly. Already, I look at him, now 4, and I can't believe how big - and small - he is. Beautifully done, Andrea. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Kristin. The hours seem to drag when they are little, but the years fly by. I am just starting to come to terms with what everyone always says - life is so short. I didn't believe it before, and now I do.

      Delete