Yesterday, a friend and I helped organize donations for our local Refugee & Immigration Services. The lovely young woman who was giving us directions gestured at a group of stuff on the floor and said, “And if you have time, you could try to inventory those… um…”
“Car seats?” my friend and I said, laughing.
“Yes!” she said. “I guess we have to have someone come in and see if they’re still safe.”
“Most of those look brand new,” I observed. “They still have tags on them. Most of them are forward-facing boosters. I only see one infant carrier…”
And the young woman bowed out, relieved to have a couple of moms on the job.
It was a bit surreal. For so long I have identified as a mom of littles, and staring at that room full of boosters, I realized all over again: that’s not me anymore. I’m a mom of three teens (yes, even a twelve year old is a teen) and one boy who is blessedly clinging to little boy-dom, even as he charges through life sweaty-headed with a compound bow in one hand and a soccer ball in the other.
There is a richness in parenting teens that’s hard to describe, a sense of awe that such a tiny thing could get so big, all arms and legs and height and opinions, even when they’re different from mine in ways that pierce deep. At being able to talk about things at a much more intellectually stimulating level than you can with, say, a two-year-old. Or a five year old.
But of course, those who can talk at a more sophisticated level can also push buttons at a more sophisticated level.
And those who have more sophisticated ways of thinking also have tougher emotional struggles. We’re way beyond a temper tantrum because Mom won’t let you have dessert until you eat your broccoli. I never carried the emotional burden of my children in those days.
I was feeling reasonably positive yesterday afternoon, having gotten a smidgen of writing work accomplished despite the interruptions that have become par for the course the last few months. Then one of my children walked in after summer school with a face about a light-year long, moping and wallowing and throwing problems at me, as if I needed any more, and I fell right off a cliff into a wallow-pit of my own.
And then my husband came home sick on a night I’d been counting on his help with chauffeuring. It spiraled down from there, until, when pulling my daughter’s color guard flag out of the van four hours later, I accidentally knocked over her bike and threw a tantrum of my own. “WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO HARD? I’M SO SICK OF EVERYTHING BEING HARD!”
Anyone who replies with a comment to the effect of “Enjoy it! It goes so fast!” will forthwith be banished from my blog. (Kidding. Sorta not really.) That saccharine platitude, inevitably lobbed at me when I’m at my wits’ end, brings me nearer bloodcurdling screams than almost anything else in the universe. Of course it goes so fast. I’m well aware. Have been for a decade and a half. But telling me to enjoy being at my lowest? Really? How is that helpful?
(Generally, I need to go to confession after my reaction to that statement.)
So what is the purpose of this post? I don’t know. Keeping it real, I guess. I don’t blog about parenthood much anymore, and when I do I try to keep it positive. But sometimes we all need to be affirmed: Sometimes this gig is HARD. And when it is, it’s okay not to enjoy it!