I don't ever blog on good days, huh? I have them, I promise. I have lots of good days. Today wasn't bad, even. But I've been a little overwhelmed lately with life and work and parenting and the million little things that contribute to my overall stress level. Death by a thousand cuts, I think they call it. Actually, for me it's more like filling my pockets with thousands of pebbles until my clothes are sagging and it's hard to walk.
All the college students I work with are totally freaking out like they always do 3 weeks before the semester ends. Anya started soccer this week. I'm playing for exactly 1.1 gazillion people and scheduling is a nightmare.
And I've got a tween in the house. We've got less than two months before Daniel is tout finit with elementary school. And boy oh boy does it show. I'm only about 3" taller than he is. He's wearing contact lenses now. He rolls his eyes or pretends he doesn't hear when I tell him to remove his dirty socks from the middle of the living room floor. He wants a YouTube account (the answer is a decided NO.) There's a lot of random frustration that I think has very little to do with things actually going wrong for him and a lot to do with the fact that he's getting older and the emotional landscape of his life and brain is suddenly a lot more complex.
You know what doesn't help? Daily reminders from all the parents of teenagers and grown children who tell me how the next few years are going to be total hell. It's going to suck, they say. Middle school is awful. Good luck with that, they mutter as they walk away shaking their heads. Thanks but no thanks.
It's a little bit like when I was pregnant/new mother and everyone told me I'd never sleep again, never see a movie again. Just wait, they'd say, just wait until you have another baby. Then you'll know how hard parenting is. Or, just wait until the terrible 2s! That's just not what you need to hear when you're actually in the trenches, elbow deep in messy diapers and bodily fluids and about to go out of your mind with the tedium of building block towers day after day.
The thing is, as hard as those early years were, and as glad as I am that they are behind me, I could handle it. Taking care of babies and toddlers and preschoolers is physically demanding and truly exhausting, but it wasn't as emotionally draining as this. Yes, I had/have complex emotions about motherhood (I did my fair share of complaining, here and IRL), but that had more to do with me and how I was adjusting to my place in the world.
Now that the young people in my house are closer to adulthood than infancy, especially Daniel, I just don't feel equipped to handle it. Middle school was rotten for me. I was a year younger than everyone in my class, there was some upheaval in my family, and I was completely socially inept. (I was about to say that also my hair was stupid, but in the early 90s, EVERYONE'S hair was stupid, am I right?) Daniel's got more social skills than I did, he has a good group of peers, and I truly believe the school system here, with all its flaws (and believe me, there are serious flaws) is better than the one I went through. I believe he's resilient, though so far he hasn't had to cope with much hardship (other than not being allowed to have his own YouTube account.)
I can't prevent my kids from growing up. I can't shield them from pain. I can't solve their problems for them. When I worry, I tend to hover, and I'm trying, truly, to stop doing that. It's better if they learn to cope with disappointment and frustration and the realization that the world does not revolve around them and their petty problems.
But it's hard. I guess I have to figure this out with them.