Saturday, 4 May 2013
Parenting Pre-Teens Ugggggg
Growing up I came up with all kinds of things that I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a police lady, and then I thought about what that work entailed, granted I was 5. Then I wanted to be a nurse, but realized that nurses have to sometimes hurt people to help them, not for me. Then I wanted to be a physio therapist, until I learned that you needed to be good at math, that wasn't for me. I really wanted to be a journalist. I wrote a column through high school. I loved it. I applied to university for it, but was offered a general bachelor of arts. I decided on majoring in psychology. I loved it, but there was so much freedom at school, and so many new and fun people to hang out with..... The only continuous long standing choice in all of that was motherhood (although being a published author is on my bucket list). Motherhood was my go to career, and it is the one that I have stuck with.
When you think about motherhood, at least when I did, I thought about babies. It seemed so hard. Go to the bookstore sometime, and look at the parenting section. You will find a huge section devoted to pregnancy books, and baby books. Now look at the "parenting" section, it's maybe a row. We all think about babies, but it turns out that babies are the easiest part of parenting. If your baby is crying, he / she is either hungry, thirsty, tired, or gassy. When big kids cry it can be any number of things. Most times instead of crying (which may be easier to take) its' anger. Nothing really prepares you for the pre-teen years, have you noticed that. You know that part where parenting begins to get genuinely difficult, where there are no easy quick fixes.
When you have a tiny baby, people are quick to offer you advice (even when you don't particularly want it). Try asking someone about colic. You will have a ton of people offering you help and advice. Some of it will work, some of it is garbage, but that's not my point, you get help. I'm not sure when it exactly happens, but somewhere between infant and toddler we stop asking for help and advice. After your child is a toddler it somehow proves that you stink as a parent if you ask for advice. When you do ask for advice, I can guarantee that what you get back will stink (much of this is also unsolicited). "I'll tell you what that kid needs is a good smack!", " If that child was mine, I'd take him in hand!". Most of the advice you get after your child is a toddler, is directed at the fact that you stink as a parent, and that's why you are having problems. Maybe that's why we would rather struggle in silence.
The pre-teen years are really tough I am discovering. You are dealing with a child, who is not exactly a child, but also not a teen yet. They want to be grown up, but are just not ready for it. They are one big coursing hormone, and as volatile as gasoline and flame. It's like walking through a mine field everyday. Gone is that angelic little face that used to look up at you like you were some kind of demigod. In it's place is the look of absolute revulsion, and rolled back eyes. It feels like there is no winning with the pre-teen (I can only speak of pre-teen, because God help me the teens are a few years away). Right now my pre-teen seems to only have one emotion and that is anger, well at least that's how it feels. The smiling little face, that warm little hand that used to fit so easily in mine seems to be gone.
I find myself using angry tones more than I should. I do not use that sing song loving voice with my pre-teen the way I do with my pre-schooler. I know that my attitude it contributing to the over all anger. I know I need to swallow back the hurt and anger and act like the grown up, like the mother I would like to be, but alas I am human, I am a work in progress. I know I need to use more patience. It's just practicing all of these things with all of the other things constantly going on in my life. I look at my pre-schooler and realize that her sense of wonder, her innocence lasts for just the blink of an eye. I need to remember that I will only have my preteen in my home for just a few more years, and then she's off of to university, and life. I am making memories with her, and if I don't smarten up, they will not be memories that I am proud of. No one ever said that motherhood was easy, they just mislead me about what the difficult parts would be.
I find comfort in other Moms. The Moms who are brave enough to admit that they too are having a rough time in this stage. There is something beautiful looking into that frazzled face of a friend who's face mirrors your own. We have not come up with strategies that work, like you do when you compare toilet training notes. Instead we enjoy sharing the misery. We enjoy comparing notes. In other words we don't judge, we commiserate. We do not feel like a failure, because we know that this unfortunately par the course.
As mother's we often put too much work into pretense. We feel like we need to "act" like a super mom, instead, of acknowledging that we would "like" to be super mom, but that we're just human beings doing the best that we can. When we judge other moms or criticize other moms (unless they really are making a huge mess of it, and then you should be trying to help her out), I think that what we are really doing is the old, I feel better about myself because I made you feel worse game. I cannot imagine how difficult this time in this parenting stage would be if I didn't have these great women. I cannot imagine how alone I would feel, and like such a failure if I thought I was the only one feeling like this.
I'll get through the pre-teen years, and I will gain more wrinkles and more grey hair, I have three more kids waiting in the wings to put me through the wringer. I need to make my mantra, "Make these years count, she's just confused". I need to rember how quickly time can slip through my fingers, to take a deep breath, and turn that grimace upside down (ok that might look even more scary). I also need to book more coffee (or wine depending on how tough the week has been) Mommy beaks. Those Mommy breaks might just be the difference between happy childhood, and visiting Mommy in prison!