Tuesday, October 6, 2015

So Many Stages

Do you remember being a new mom? It's been almost 10 years since my first born son gave me the title. I thought I was ready. I was 30 after all. Starting later than some. Had already been with my husband for over 10 years. It was the logical next step. I wanted to be a mom and I was gonna be good at it. My kids were going to be the bees knees and I was gonna be the bomb digity mommy. They were going to be adorable and good looking, well behaved, have advanced intelligence, and be talented in several areas. They were never going to eat on the couch, or in the car, and were going to be respectful and polite. I was going to be the mom after all. I would just set the rules, spend the extra one on one time with them and make it happen. How hard could it be? I wasn't going to be THAT mom at Target with THOSE out of control kids. You know the ones...kids screaming and arguing, running through the aisle, mom whisper yelling with that extreme look on her face, telling them they are NOT going to get those trading cards she promised them if they do not stop RiiiiiGHT NooooW. I would look at them, that mom that had no control and obviously was not doing her job, and those kids who just needed clear boundaries and an appropriate reward system, and would think to myself "Good Lord Lady. Get control of yourself and your kids would you?!"

Baaahhhaaaa! I almost laughed so hard just now that I peed a little. You should see me and the boys roll up to the store together these days. We pull up in my dirty car (with it's interior complete with half empty water bottles, gum and granola bar wrappers, and discarded McDonald's Happy Meal toys). Usually one of the kids will have conveniently forgotten his shoes. I, determined to get to the list, am walking maybe a step ahead of one, while the other one hangs on the back of the cart, half way underneath. The boys asking for popcorn and Minecraft cards. I engage them for a short time in helping Mom find the things on the list. They make a game of it and all is well, for about 10 minutes. Then the fighting starts. One of them starts antagonizing the other. Yelling, pushing, crying. Me charging down the aisle, plucking stuff off willy nilly, trying to remember my list that I left in the car. Oh yeah....good times. I have my shit together, just like I always knew I would.

After a pretty average to good pregnancy, an hour of pushing, and even 11 days early, Carter was born and I was a mom. Oh God! The bliss of falling head over heels for the most perfect little creature. And then the anxiety and worry that I would do it all wrong. The awe of EVERYTHING about him...his fingers and toes and eyes. The way he breathed and held my finger. The fatigue and lack of appetite from that first year of total fricken' sleep deprivation. Your first few years are amazing and scary and you look back at it all in a blur of giggles and tears, peeks and valleys. I can remember having the baby in the sling, walking through Target in a daze buying diapers and frozen meal stuff. The baby crying just as we get to the check out. Me, frazzled, just wanting to get out of there with my Pampers and Lean Cuisine. There would be another woman somewhere nearby. A mom who had been there and done that. And she'd say "I know it's seems tough but it gets easier as they get older. Enjoy these moments while you can, before you know it they are grown." So you pull yourself together, get a coffee, and tell yourself...."this to shall pass, and it's gonna get easier. The wise lady at Target told me so!"  Well guys, I call BULLSHIT! It's been 10 years and it is not easier. It is harder. Of course some parts are easier. Like I don't have a baby on my boob half the day and I can (at least most of the time) sleep in my own bed through the night. But now...oh now, there is so much more stuff. Now that perfect little creature, that would sometimes cry because he was gassy and would wake up every 2 hours through the night, is in fourth grade. He is a boy, with a mouth and a voice and a will all his own. I mean he always had that will, but wasn't independent enough to push the point, He needed me, for everything. There was no debate. It was pure survival, eat, sleep, bathe, cuddle, repeat. If he was asserting his will and an inopportune moment, you could put him in his crib with a toy. Now it's so much more. Now we are learning life lessons.

Really once they are able to walk and talk the lessons start. Hot Baby...don't touch. Use nice words. Don't hit. Say your prayers. Say please and thank you. Blah blah blah. But NOW, in this pre-tween stage, the real stuff begins, the foundation of who this boy will be as a man. How he will handle life's challenges. How will will look at tomorrow... with a hopeful heart? How he will treat people. Will he respect and accept people that are different then he is? Will he work hard, persevere and not give up? Will he recognize his special gifts and have the guts to share them? How can I help? What am I supposed to be doing to help this little man grow into the best version of himself? Am I being firm enough? Am I being encouraging enough? Am I steering him in the right direction?

He just had his first experience with a changing friendship. Something happened between the boys, something my boy can't really put his finger on, but something just the same. He and his friend were no longer really compatible. they were rubbing each other the wrong way, getting on each other's nerves. His friend was feeling things, my little dude was feeling things. It was awkward and uncomfortable. The boy's Mom and I are friends, and his younger brother and my littlest dude are friends, so that just added to the weirdness. But it became clear, that my son and his friend were no longer friends. So, he and I and Dad got to discuss that. How he can continue to be in the same class with his former friend, have mostly all the same friends as him and still not be friends anymore. How he can still be respectful and kind. As Carter put it "Of course I'll be nice, there is no reason not to...I think we're just done Mom." Their friendship ran a course. It was not meant to be a forever relationship. So many of our friendships aren't. They happen for a reason, they teach us things, we enjoy some experiences together, and we move on. Of course there are those very special few. The ones that will be with you, through thick and thin, good and bad, always by your side, to laugh and cry, to hold you up and be supported, through decades of life. But those are different. Both types of friendships are blessings, both are meant to be in your life, some last your lifetime and some for just a short while. Both can be looked upon with gratitude in our hearts, even if the end hurts a little.

So we now have that life lesson under our belts. It's okay. He has handled things really well so far. I think I handled them okay too. My other little man will likely face something along the same lines at some point in the next couple of years. So what is all this babbling meant to say to you...what am I writing all of this for? Just this...we all have an idea of what this parenting thing is supposed to be, and how well (or not well) we will do it. We often think, the next stage of their childhood will be easier and we look forward to that like a light at the end of the tunnel, but at the same time, we turn around and look longingly back at the previous stage, when they were so young and innocent and sweet. We need to look at the one we are in right now. This stage. This is where we are. Right now is all that there REALLY is.

I like the stage we are in. It's not easy, but it's not supposed to be. In each stage we are meant to learn and grow, to find out even more about ourselves and each other. To strengthen our bonds. None of that happens easily. Easy is boring. I want more than easy for us.

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