I was an awful toddler mom. No joke. I wasn’t good at it. It was, by far, the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life. I spent every day physically exhausted. Now I did have three under four years old. That’s my own (I guess Spouse was involved too) fault. But still. It was brutally difficult. I spent at least five years in a fog of diapers, sippy cups, potty training, bathing, herding, putting to bed, fighting over naps, reading SkippyJonJones on repeat every night, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning. Little Man was three years old before I started to see a clearing of that fog. Then things were crazy with them all in different activities that so often seemed to overlap and coincide. There was classroom volunteering, field trips, soccer, soccer practice, baseball, baseball practice, dance, homework, and so on. But they were easier – more self-sufficient, less destructive. I thought we might be home-free. HAH!
I have two teenagers, and one on the verge of being a teenager. I blame the older two for sucking us in, making us think we might get through these years without being ravaged by teenager-ness. You know what I’m talking about – the defiant, independence-seeking, snarky, rude, disrespectful, distrusting, make-you-want-to-pull-your-hair-out, make you want to cry teenager-ness. Yeah. That. We saw small glimpses of it last year with Big Man, but this year with both he and the Princess in high school, we are being slammed with the reality. Someday, we will laugh at us. I guarantee you, someday we will laugh at them when they come to us with the same glazed looks we’re currently wearing, when they have teenagers of their own.
This. Is. Exhausting. It’s exhausting in a different way than that of parenting toddlers, but it’s exhausting all the same. I’ve been talking about it with my friends who are parents of my childrens’ peers. We’re all wiped out, and somewhat stunned. We’re mentally and emotionally worn down.
Sometimes I wonder if it was this difficult for our parents, or has technology and the accompanying social media made it that much harder? Our kids have access to so much more stuff in some ways, a billion more opportunities to be bullied online. So we are vigilant – phones are taken away at night. Social media accounts are regularly reviewed and watched very closely. Photos are skimmed through. Search histories are saved and looked at. Tabs are reopened. My kids are good kids, at least they’ve shown that thus far. But we have all this in play to keep them safe, to make sure they aren’t making stupid decisions. We’re not naive – we know they likely have their ways around all our vigilance, should they so choose. But we’re doing our best to safeguard them, and it’s exhausting.
Don’t even get me started on the school front…..making sure grades are kept up, homework is done, trying to teach them to be accountable and advocates for themselves at the same time we need to assure they don’t blow something during the next four years, and thus blow their chances at college. Then there’s the dating, or potential dating, the friend drama, the extra-curricular activities, the worry they might get into alcohol, drugs, devastating car accidents.
When they were toddlers, there were so many worries, mostly physical. The worries now are so encompassing. They seem so much bigger. The risks are greater, as are the rewards. I love where they are, truly. It’s fun to watch them really come into themselves, figure out who they are, where they’re going. But it’s terrifying, and it’s exhausting. I’m pretty sure this may be harder than when they were toddlers. I’ll do a review in about six years and let you know for sure. For now, I think I need a nap….before they all get home from school.