Friday, May 11, 2012

Horse Sense: Proverbs For theThin Skinned

Motherhood is hard!


Having been at it for nineteen years, counting all of the discomfort and sacrifice that starts with morning sickness, you'd think that I would have toughened up, have developed thicker skin by now. But parenting today is more challenging than ever.

Friends and strangers alike warned me about the miserable teen years to come.... but actually, for the most part I've been pleasantly surprised.  I enjoy having real conversations with my older Critters - conversations meaningful to both of us, not just me listening with half an ear to juvenile ramblings (while feeling inescapably guilty), settling constant disputes or negotiating privileges.  There's still a fair share of that, but at least now it's interspersed with the exchange of ideas and co-conscious analysis, a meeting of similarly developed minds.  That's probably why it hurts so badly to be disrespected and misunderstood.

This morning after "words"with all four of the Big Critters, I retreated to my room to hide. (Nothing like undermining your own authority by being a crybaby! And perimenopause definitely doesn't help on that front.) What started as me giving simple advice had quickly escalated into overbearing demands (me) and retorted excuses (them).  Standing in a corner furiously wiping at weepy eyes, all I could think was "I'm not cut out for this".

Kinda late to figure that one out!

One of my younger sisters once told me that she didn't want to have kids after the age of thirty because she didn't want to be an "old" mother. I was mildly offended considering I was already over the hill by her standards before popping out any of my Critters.  Five blessed events later I've finally figured out that having them at an "advanced maternal age" didn't make me old: Parenting them into adulthood did.....and does.....and will for many, MANY years to come!*  By the time I'm done raising them my AARP card will be an antique!

When they were little, I was The Undisputed Boss, Bearer of the Young!!!  (T.U.B.B.Y. - another gift of motherhood!) And while they did challenge my authority occasionally, they also trusted me to always do what was best for them.  My rules kept them safe, taught them about the world, and helped them grow into healthy, caring and confident young men and women. Sometimes too confident...

With teens comes a yearning for autonomy - on both their part and mine.  I know it's my job to gradually loosen the reigns, but the harder they struggle for control, the more I tend to tighten my grip.  Don't they get that I'd really rather drop the reigns all together?  They perceive any continued guidance as too restrictive, not understanding that the blinders of inexperience hide plenty of deep ditches along the road.  Before I can give them free reign, I need to trust that they are competent to navigate on their own. (Case in point --- Bonus Baby just rewarded me with a big "MY HERO!" hug for rescuing her foot from the crack in the reclining loveseat, then proceeded to bounce again!I hope that someday I won't have to remind any of them to respect other people's time, feelings, possessions and space.  They may strain and try to spit out the bit, but they can trust that I'm just as anxious to take off the reigns.... and see them enjoy the freedom of greener pastures.

Till then, I've adopted these proverbs to help keep me in the driver's seat... and them from upsetting the cart:

...and so on, and so on, and so on.

Obviously there's a lot of overlap here.  I could write a book, but...

..... a Greater Mind already has.

*To give credit where it's due, the Critters are also keeping me young....

...all of them!

                                          And Mom?  Happy Mother's Day - you're my Hero!