Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Parenting Ten-agers

I am having a hard time blogging lately. I am still thinking, noticing, conversing with friends, praying--and even writing. I just can't bring myself to click the publish button. Three times in three days I have written multiple paragraphs only to delete the whole thing with a click.

There are a lot of voices proclaiming their truth with passion and certainty. If I am going to enter the fray, I hope it is with hope, encouragement or insight that adds value. Honestly, many times I read over what I have written and its none of the above.

I am in a season of tween-dom that is tricky. One minute K, R, P & I are discussing procreation and the next we are planning a lemonade stand. We go from silly karaoke of Frozen songs to deeper discussions about racism. The same child that won't let me post anything about him on social media for fear it might embarrass him asked me a few minutes later to buy him a t-shirt with an applique dinosaur.

This season is known for its awkwardness--and I think I am feeling it as much as the children. Having a home full of ten-agers gives me whiplash. Their growth spurts make me gangly too. And, somehow, strangely, I kinda love it.

As my people are sorting out who they are, I am working through how to love them in ways that celebrate their uniqueness. I am trying to honor the advice of wise Mamas who have gone before me to not ride the wave of my children's roller coaster emotions--but I want to stay in tune to them. We are navigating new waters.

I hesitate to write much out of respect for my children's growing up process, but also out of fear that it somehow communicates that I think I 'know' how to do this all the right way. I don't! But, for better or for worse, I have a (loose) plan:

Unplug as much as possible when my children (and husband!) are around. While we don't have plans for phones yet, my children are increasingly wired. They just received school issued ipads and email accounts. Not only is it a reminder that I am modeling the right way to use technology, I'm already jealous of how much they love their gadgets. It feels different being on this side of things. Wanting to connect and seeing the top of a head is frustrating at best and even hurtful sometimes.

Increasingly, when my people are home, my phone is on the charger. When we go out to dinner, I leave my phone in the car. If all my birdies are in the nest, there's nothing that urgent to stay wired for.

These two small changes made me twitch at first--which was all the confirmation I needed that it was overdue.

Much to my dismay, 2/3 of my people are now very concerned with how I portray them on social media. I confess that selfishly it is robbing my news feeds of some cute stories and fun pictures...but I must respect their boundaries. If I want them to trust me, I need to prove that I am safe. The last thing awkward tween emotions need is a fear that their confessions or struggles will be blasted across facebook and twitter.

I am a little bummed that they've robbed me of some great material (wink) but I appreciate that they recognize the permanency of the Internet. Here's hoping this lesson carries over when they are old enough for their own accounts!

Hunker down at home. Between tennis, tumbling, soccer and community theater our week nights are busy--I am making it a priority to eat together around a table as often as possible..even if that is at 5pm. We need face time and the predictability of that space.

I am also making more of an effort to sit with my children on the sofa at night to watch something together. Modern Marvels, American Ninja Warrior and Dirty Jobs are our current favorites--and of course college football. It is a small way to be physically close, to hold hands, to have them lean on me, to touch feet. It sounds so silly as I type it. I know I could be 'doing' something like cleaning the kitchen or another load of laundry, but when we are in a sofa pile--my heart knows it is the best use of my time.

Create space to listen. When my children were younger, I never really thought about what the ritual of 'tucking them in" would come to mean. I am now learning that wrapping the day up with quiet conversation in the dark is priceless. No matter what, each child knows they have my private, undivided attention. This has become my favorite time of day because I get real glimpses into their hearts.

And the last part is probably the most important...

Be honest about where I'm failing. Be open to correction. Be willing to laugh, learn and adjust my sails.

Gulp. This is hard for prideful, self-sufficient me. My children are the ones growing up...but, boy, I am growing too.

I am learning to love the humility of parenthood because it gives me compassion for the minefield our children are facing as they learn to navigate this life.

One step at a time--marked by lots of prayer, deep breaths, laughter and apologies.

What a journey!


Cathy said...

I understand that you can't share everything with the blogging world, but maybe you can keep a journal for your kids to see one day. My MIL passed away two years ago and we just found a daily devotional she wrote on. She had four pages, one for each child and on their birthday each year should would go to "their page" and journal what that child was doing and where they were in life. Priceless. Things my husband didn't remember but only as seen through his mother's eyes and heart. BTW, you're doing a great job!

Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ChelseaSalomone said...

Thank you for this! I am eight short years behind that will fly by in the blink of an eye. So much to learn from fearless mamas like you, just ahead of me.

Love Being A Nonny said...

Love your desire to be all they need. Blessed children!

Brooke said...

I completely understand as I too struggle with sharing too much in my blog as my sweet kids are growing. I have taken a break recently to live life, and get things back into perspective...focusing on much the same things that you wrote about. Prayers for you and your family. Adjusting to those teen years has been a learning curve for me too! Blessings! -Brooke

Shannon McCrory said...

Great reminders! My oldest is 6, and I am already feeling the pull of the outside world on our family. We try to be intentional about staying in as a family during the week, and family dinners are crucial. Thanks for the encouragement!