Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thoughts From the Unpracticed Mom of a Teenager

Just like that, it's officially winter over here. The kids have begged for this for months, adamant that it's their favorite. And then it came. And we're all sort of feeling the fall-out.

I can't adjust, not like this. My new fall jacket just arrived two days ago, for Pete's sake!

But we're coping the only ways we know how - with lots of soup, carbs, library books, and plenty of sitcoms after dark. Which happens to be around 5:45. Not that we've noticed.

The bad news is, we're officially caught up on New Girl. 48 episodes left us feeling like they were family and now they've vanished into the deep recesses of wherever entire seasons of shows go to retire, which, in this case, has to be somewhere quirky and weird. We miss them.

On a scale of 1-10, how tired are you of hearing about this obsession? I almost lead with it, but coupled with yet another photo of the green table, I thought you'd probably all just skip it.

Now you feel tricked, don't you?

As with every change of season, I've been doing a little too much thinking lately, a sure sign it's time for an adventure of some sort.
Life with our youngest has been really hard again.
Life with our oldest has gotten mysteriously easier in recent weeks.

By "easier", I mean he's stopped being such a grump. (Maybe we've stopped being such grumps, too. I'll have to ask him.) We've come to a cease-fire in some of the nagging disputes we'd been waging week after blasted week.

He's following me around the house again, hugging me one hundred times a day, forcing me to find a new way of believing my affection isn't reserved for people shorter than myself.

He's tossing all the little kids around, tickling them while they beg him to stop and hope that he won't.

He got his driver's license last week so we celebrated with doughnuts and ordered a covert pizza after the littles were asleep, but Robert also fell asleep before we even got it home. (His 5a.m. mornings are catching up to him.)

Calvin yells downstairs, "Robert! Mom and Dad need you!" and it sounds like it's always been that way. We trace his giant hand next to ours on Siley's family project and find a perfect fit on the page. He braids Ruby's hair, "You gotta hold still, Sis". It all seems perfectly right. The kiddos understand on every level that Robert belongs to them. It helps.

I guess what I want you to know is this: Bringing our tallest kid into the mix is one of the hardest things we've ever done. We have doubted and stewed. We've worried and wished. I have accused him of not really wanting us, as insecure as the mom of a teenager as I was as a teenager myself.

We've yelled and stood our ground. We've all had moments of behaving badly, then realizing again that "loving" from a place of stubbornness isn't really loving at all.

He's eager to get his own place and I want it both ways. I want a taste of quiet, of getting babysitters and going on dates again, of not wearing a bra until midnight, of experiencing, once again, the delight of the left-over.

But I only want it for like one week.

And then I want him back, right here, following me around, pressing his perpetually warm cheek to mine, causing mayhem during homework hour, talking so dang loud. I want him at the island, telling me everything I never wanted to know about being a laminator in a factory. I want him laying on the couch and making his beloved baloney sandwiches in the kitchen. I want him screaming "MOM!" and flushing cigarette butts down the toilet.

I want to keep him under my thumb and pretend he isn't almost 20.

I want to micro-manage him forever, because it feels much safer and I think I might be more effective than God. (Keeping it real, God.)

I want to keep him with us, because I'm afraid he'll forget us and I know we won't be the same without him.

Is this normal teenage parenting stuff? Tell me, please.
Do the stakes always feel this high?

I know messing up is inevitable, but I know messing up means different things for this kid.

I don't have tidy answers right now, just the niggling twitch that things can't stay simple forever. The leaves all come down, eventually.

For now, I'll lean into my instinct to pull everyone in for the winter, bundle us together while we're all right here, and pray we make it through and then keep on making it through after that.