Monday, September 26, 2016

Just A Phase

Both calendars are loaded. The expectations whisper:

If I don’t keep the calendar current, if I miss updating even one event, the only thing that makes sense is to trash them and start over. There is no room for error. Showing up somewhere for something that was canceled weeks before and missing commitments – all of which are mandatory, on which certain success is precariously perched – are to be avoided.

It’s the old story, repeated a thousand times a day by anyone who does anything: we are busy busy busy and we’re going crazy crazy crazy keeping up.

I’m not so special. Everyone has tons of stuff going on. It’s the nature of our society, anyway. I’m tired of hearing about it, feeling it, saying it.

As phases go, I’m in the mom/taxi one. I go somewhere every afternoon, every night, sometimes out until ten or eleven o’clock with our kids. The pick-up and drop-off times conflict most days. On days I am organized, I coordinate carpooling. On days I am not, I text “Find a ride” to one of my children and cross my fingers.

My son is in the not-yet-driving high school phase. He has stuff going on all the time – sports, social life, school work, various other downtime activities – and he is independent except for transportation and certain life management and problem-solving skills. He could probably handle most of it if pressed, but not well. Sort of like me in college. And last week.

My daughter is younger and needs more looking after, but not much. I still do more for her because of her age and her femaleness and my inability to treat my children equally, to their dismay. It’s too hard and time moves too fast to figure out how to divide responsibility evenly, and I no longer apologize or make excuses for my inconsistency. It’s just how it is. If my children learn one thing about me, it’s that I am unfair.

The encompassing truth is that once you get used to the current phase, another one begins. Keeping up is hard, and not just with the stuff on the calendar. Fluidity is the nature of everything – just go with it. Move on and adapt or get left behind. Among the worst things that can happen if you fail to be fluid as a parent is that you treat your kids like they’re six when they’re sixteen and you miss out on what they’re experiencing now.

If you fail to go with the flow, you miss more than a practice or previous commitment. You miss the next phase, and you lose touch.

Raising kids is the job of putting yourself out of a job. Their growth requires constant reshuffling of priorities and if you ever finish, these people you’ve raised will fly on their own without much regular input from you. Making our best work stick with our children is the goal, so that we will always be relevant no matter what phase they’re in. When we’re long gone we hope they will pass this relevance onto their own kids.

This is concerning because when we’ve spent so much time keeping up with their phases, we may have ignored our own.

Might as well accept that we’ll always be trying to keep up.

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