Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Parents: It Gets Better

Tomorrow is a day I've anticipated for years. Actual years. It's here.

*****

For years I've talked about having a campaign for parents: #ItGetsBetter (though I don't mean to be disrespectful to It Gets Better in any way). Parents sometimes find themselves in well-documented (or not) throes and need something, anything to hold onto-- which is to say something, anything OTHER THAN, "Oooh, these years pass so quickly, don't you just love it?" and that ilk.

I'll be honest: I've found myself actually loving most of those crazy moments. I laughed heartily when I walked in on this scene:



I've also cried myself straight out of stores, out of church, away from social events, and straight to my bathroom only to find that there isn't any place to be safe from the inevitable heartache occasionally brought on by parenthood.

*****

When my youngest was born, my second-to-youngest was 18 months old. I remember saying to myself at that time, "Three years. I'm giving myself three years. I won't go anywhere, I won't have any expectations." It was a survival tactic, and it was effective. It's not (necessarily) the best kind of thing for every parent to do, but it was the best thing for me to do then.

My oldest was born 8 days after I turned 22. My youngest was born 14 days after I turned 31. I like being a young mom, but I don't remember my twenties.

*****

In September of 2008 my kids were 5 months, almost 2, 4 and a half, turning 7, and 9 and a half. Things were going on, despite my 3-year moratorium. Kids still had school and lessons, speech therapists still had to visit my house, and I was doing fundraising things online.

I don't know which day in September I did it, but one day I walked over to the pantry, opened the door and looked at my calendar. I grabbed a green marker and made a chart.



I needed to know. For whatever reason that day, I needed a timeline. I didn't feel desperate, just wondering: How long until they were all in school? Maybe more than that, I needed to know: When would they all be in school all day?

Even I was surprised by this move. I'm not a mom who rejoices at her kids going back to school. I like having them home, I like being with them. I'm also a mom who recognizes the benefit of the structure that comes from their days of school and other activities, days which just aren't the same during summer break.

*****

And here we are. Tomorrow's the day.

All the kids will start the school year, that school year I wrote down back in 2008. 14-15. That's tomorrow. It's not some abstract date I wonder about while I have babies on my hip and Kraft dinner on the stove (again).

So, Dear Parents:

It Gets Better.

Not that you shouldn't enjoy whatever stage you're in, but you're the boss of that. I'm not, your mom isn't, strangers at the store aren't, even well-meaning friends aren't.

Maybe you are enjoying this stage. Super, and GoodOnYa. But maybe this stage is really hard for you, in which case, it's okay, hang in there, and keep going.

*****

It's a new season. Yeah, I'm going to call it better.

5 comments:

La Yen said...

Depending on the kindergarten where ever we live, I have four-five more years. Assuming we don't have any more. RIGHT.

I'm never going to be free.

Annette Lyon said...

Yes, and yes!

During the bleary-eyed baby years, I had so many people telling me not only to enjoy them because they "go so fast" but also "just wait" because teenagers are WORSE.

I'm happy to report that it does get better. And that even teenagers, with their hormones and mood swings and crazy lives are awesome to have around.

You can TALK to them about their own opinions and play board games and just hang out like they're real people.

Sure, they're hard in their own way--parenting a teen isn't as black and white as parenting a baby, when the kid is either bathed or not, the diaper is clean or not, the kid is fed or not. It's tough to figure out how to help out with peer issues, school problems, and other things with no clear-cut right answer.

But you also get those mother pay days.

And more sleep.

And more freedom.

It does get better!

Julie Suarez said...

Next year (assuming we're done with having kids) will be my year. I think going to ruin it and go back to school. Or work outside of my home. Or just sleep.

Emily said...

I got so tired of people telling me to not wish those years away because it always made me feel guilty for doing so. But I tell everyone how much I enjoy my kids growing up. And how much I love them going to school. Don't get me wrong, I miss them as babies but man, I love the stages they're in now and I'm so looking forward to empty nesting with my husband.

Desiree said...

Yes, thank you for writing this - it's good to have company in the countdown.