Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I have no idea what I'm doing.

This post was originally started a few weeks ago and saved as a draft. I have a few of those. I start typing about something and just can't get it out quite right. Originally this post started because I was wondering how much I've screwed up my kids already. Now I'm coming back to it because they're driving me crazy. Either way - it's the same idea. I have no idea what I'm doing.

I hope my kids make it to adulthood without too much emotional damage.

I was a young mother. I have few regrets about being a mom so young, only that there were so many things I didn't know. So many things I thought I knew, but didn't hold strong to. I made many mistakes. I still make many mistakes. I'll always make mistakes. I just hope none of them will have my sons future girlfriends musing about how much I ruined them. Unless of course, it's how I left them unable to buy something pre-packaged without checking the label, or how they compare my cooking to their girlfriends/wives. I'm ok with that. Sue me. :)

It's funny, sort of. Everyone warned me how hard being a mother would be. But it wasn't, really. It was easy, most of the time. You changed them and fed them and loved them and held them. Sometimes you screwed up, sometimes you cried with them out of tiredness or frustration or sympathy. But for the most part it was just sort of easy. It was just life and there wasn't a whole lot of time to think about how to do things or if they were the right things. I mean maybe you would, for a moment here, a night there - but with an infant and toddler you're in the thick of it. You live by the moment, mostly. Or at least I did.

When I did worry about things, it was always stuff for later. How would I handle this situation or that, when we got to it. Some of them we've already gone through. Some where not nearly as scary as I thought they'd be. Some we muddled through. But we made it out ok, with only a few scars to show for it.

I feel like now that they're older, I worry more. I worry about how much I may have messed them up already, how much I'm messing them up now, and how much I'll mess them up in the future.

I know that sounds stupid. I know we'll get through everything, same as we have. And I'll probably only mess them up a little bit, and eventually they'll forgive me and still love me anyway.

But here's the thing. I have a soon to be 12 year old. A coming of age, smart mouthed, stubborn, sulky, cranky, acting older than he is but still puts his head on my shoulder, little man.

It scares the crap out of me. Because I over think things. And worry too much. I know.

There are two things going on. One is I'm terrified of letting go. I know what I was like as a teenager, and I was a good kid compared to many kids I knew. The thought of him doing half the stuff I did worries me sick. I know I have a few years before it all really hits, but kids start earlier and earlier it seems. We've had all the big talks, but I don't think they are enough. The idea of letting go and hoping your words are enough is scary as hell.

The other thing is his attitude. He was always a spirited child. Never easy to raise, but a joy in his own ways. More and more he's - well, like a teen. He's so freaking negative and sulky and sometimes mean.

And I have no idea what I'm doing. So that's great. It's one of the most pivotal times in his life and I'm just kind of winging it.

His dad (who does not live with us) insists it's just him becoming a teen, and to just deal with it. That seems to be the (laughingly stated) consensus among all sorts of people.

And well, I sort of think that's bullshit. I understand there will be some tough and trying times, but it's no excuse for poor behavior and poor manners. Why should it be? And why the hell is it so hard to raise a decent, good mannered child?! I mean, people do it, right? There are polite kids and teens out there, yes? Tell me your secrets, please!!!

You know, we've had conversations before, where I've flat out told him that we don't have all the answers. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we don't make the best choices either. But that everything we do, even when he thinks it's unfair (and maybe sometimes it is) is what we think is best for him then. Even if he doesn't understand it, we're only doing the best that we can as parents and the best we can for him. 

This is a hard age too, because he's not quite a child, and not quite a teen. You can't give him the independence of an older child, but he needs more freedom than a younger child. He has the attitude of a hormonal teen, but I still see the need for him to let go, relax and be a kid.

I guess all those people had it almost right years ago. Raising a baby is the easy part, it's the rest of their lives that's so hard!

1 comment:

Sara said...

I'm so sorry but this sentence had me laughing!

And I have no idea what I'm doing. So that's great. It's one of the most pivotal times in his life and I'm just kind of winging it.

Honey, you will be fine. He will be fine. My dad tells me that no matter how bad I screw up, my son will always love me. He gave me no assurances about my daughter... :S

You know my story. Looking back, I think the one thing I am going to change with my kids is the oversharing, overexplaining. Pretty much, they believe they know everything, so within the boundaries of "no harm comes to them" let him explore. Don't allow the smart talk. Set your boundaries pretty tight when it comes to info about you and things you did, but make it very clear you will always be there for him no matter what he does. I know you have this in you, this ability to be open and approachable (not many people do) and it will hold you in good stead. Stay calm. Let him spend lots of time in his room, he probably prefers it anyway and draw him into the family when he comes out without reservation.

BIG HUGS!!! Parenting is all about failure. Don't fret the small stuff.