Get me off this crazy pre-teen hormone ride! There are just too many ups and downs and, if possible, more downs.
I knew it was always coming and I knew it would be hard, but knowing and living it daily are two different things.
Plus, I think we all have idealistic dreams about what our children will be like. Sure, there will be tough days and discipline but we would still be able to do things together and enjoy ourselves. In this dream, we probably sit down to a stress-free dinner and everyone talks about their day without arguing.
What you didn't prepare yourself for is that you would become the worst person that ever lived. It's always a little sad when dreams and expectations fall wildly short of reality. You are now the person in which all things bad spawn from in someone else's mind. While they live this truth throwing daggers with their eyes while you ask them how their day was, they still somehow want you to cater to their every whim. Yeah, right.
We keep on loving them though ... somehow.
I mean, we will always love our children but what does loving look like when it feels unwanted.
My oldest cried the other day. She cried because I don't consistently tuck her in like I do the other children. Oh yeah, mom guilt of the day! She's right and I admit it. By the time I get done with the people demanding hugs and kisses and more hugs I have very little energy left to hug someone who may or may not want to be hugged.
The squeakier the wheel, the more grease and what not. The younger children require more physical affection and affirmation, where my oldest takes up more mental energy and I'm trying my best to read her.
So, I tuck the other children in because it's what they need and ask for. My pre-teen is self-sufficient and doesn't always like being touched so I've been quite happy to just say goodnight and tell her 15 more minutes if she's reading. Usually at the end of our day, we are just trying to end on a neutral note. I've spent a day dealing with her emotions and I'm just trying to be as positive as possible. In that way, maybe I'm dropping the ball.
On the other hand, I'm trying to respect her feelings on privacy and being physically touched, so she can assert her feelings outside the house ... not that I'm really worried about that! I thought I was doing the right thing. Apparently not!
I spend a day with this mom guilt before coming to her bedroom door the following day to find a message that reads "Stay out Mom and siblings." It's a typical kid move. I'm sure we've all done it. But for me, on the back of the "tuck in" guilt, it was just a bit too much. I opened her door and ripped the paper off the door and tore it up in front of her declaring, "You want me to tuck you in but you don't want me in your room? Make up your mind! Maybe you should try to be less hurtful if you want people to be more loving!" I closed the door a bit too hard knowing it probably wasn't my shining moment as a parent.
I know my job is to keep showing my love even when I don't feel like it, reassuring even when I'm unsure and caring when I'm shattered. I don't need my children to be my friends and I don't have to enjoy their company to do what needs to be done. I will just keep on telling myself this is a season of life and we will all come out the other side and have that dinner I dreamed of ... someday.
After another rough day, I tuck them in and go to my oldest's room. She's working on something so I tell her it's bed time and ask if she wants a hug and a kiss. She scowls and says, "No, I'm doing homework." I tell her five more minutes and it's lights out. I remind her it's been a long weekend and that she probably needs her sleep. I walk away and come back 10 minutes later. All the lights are out and she's asleep. I have that moment like I did when they were babies and would have that heart-warming moment basking in my love for them and then quickly thank God they were sleeping and sneak out like a ninja. I don't sneak out this time, though. I come in and kiss her and whisper in her ear, "I love you."
I pull the covers up and hug her and as I stand up and walk out I can feel my eyes burn as I fight the tears.
She doesn't understand and probably won't, nor is it her responsibility to. She will not know about half of the things I do or all the time I spend thinking about her and how much I love her ... all while knowing she will wake up tomorrow hating me.
Best to not linger on these thoughts and just brace myself for tomorrow's ups and downs.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.