I am not referring to Taylor Swift’s song, but the absolute blank space when it comes to choosing a title for this Blog Entry. There are so many thoughts moving inside my head that it is hard to choose a topic. But I can start with this recurring subject: parenting.
As our kids get older, well into their teen years, I realize how little we know when we decide to start a family. When we grow up and watch our parents from a distance -raising us- or watch movies and TV shows, it seems so ..doable and even easy at times. It would seem sometimes like a story told over and over. You marry, you have babies, they cry a lot but are so very cute, then they start talking non stop, asking many questions. Then they get pimples and tempers, but not too bad, just a phase. Then they decide what do study, which route to take; they date, they drive, they get jobs and maybe marry one day. Then they give us grand kids and come apologize for being mean when they were teenagers. Then the Christmas gatherings get bigger and bigger, like in the movies, where its all a bunch of people overeating and having a good time.
But I had no idea how hard it can be to exercise patience, to not take things personal when your teenagers are rude, to bite your tongue when you are dying to give them a piece of advice but they didn’t ask for it and definitely don’t want it. To take a super deep breath when all you want to do is wring their neck! To hold back tears when they just hurt you so bad with a single word.
How mortifying it is to see them drive away at night and pray that they will be back safe without crossing their path with an idiot or a bully on the road. To see them crying when they are hurting inside, because it hurts almost as much as a parent to feel their pain.
We are now approaching the time when the kids start thinking what they want to do after High School. I had forgotten how overwhelming that can be. I switched majors twice until at last I found my place in College. And now that our kids are headed that way, I realize how immature (generally speaking) kids still are at 18 to be deciding what direction to take for their near future. I now live in a country where kids are almost expected to leave the house and start on their own at this early age. Whether as students or employees or both.
I am having a hard time (still) getting that into my head; in Mexico, in the late 80s, we went to college and lived with our parents almost until we married. That was the norm. So there is conflicting cultural differences between my upbringing and what I see now in 2022 in my own family.
We recently got some good advice from a professional on how to prepare our kids for Independent living; after listening to the reasoning and some examples of failed attempts of teenagers at “leaving home “, I realized how many mistakes I -as a mother- have made. Ironically, while trying to “help” them throughout their childhood, I have also been limiting their capability in problem solving and developing basic skills for life!
I believe these mistakes are the result of:
a) being a mom, which comes with some instinct to protect, to provide, (and we mexican moms are VERY intense at this) and
b) a subconscious need for them to need me, to stay home and not leave the moment they turn 18
The “Empty Nest” terrifies me, that is the truth. I have seen it all too often (my sister and several close friends). The emptiness and the quiet home. The meals for two. The void , in general.
But that is not our kids’ fault; they need support and help to make that transition a good one, a successful one. They deserve it and I am committed it make it happen, no matter how sad it makes me feel to see them growing up and being more independent.
I know I have other things to gain; and I trust they will all come in time.
So I am trying to walk this troublesome and tough time of their life with them, next to them , and not in front of them. I am trying to listen more, to understand their digital humor, their videogames, their language, the music they listen to.
This sometimes proves to be as hard as being a parent! I am sure I am not the only Mom that just DOESN’T get the jokes and the memes on Tik Tok, Instagram etc . Just like theirs….it’s an every day battle!
One day at a time…