I have turned into one of those parents, that when I see any baby related post on social media, I feel the need to comment. “Try Mylicone drops!” Or, “A little dirt never hurt!” And my favorite, “You will miss this one day!”
Now, I never wanted to be one of them, haven been through the phase of unwanted and outdated advice myself. I always thought, that when someone asked for advice, only then would I give it, not blurt it out like it’s girl’s night with too much homemade Sangria. (He said WHAT to you? Oh girl, you don’t need no MAN!)
Now, I don’t want to age myself or anything, but social media wasn’t a huge thing in 2005 when I started my journey fresh with a set of twins. The advice from moms then, wasn’t as in your face as it is now. It was a tad subtler, and you could avoid it generally by skipping Uncle Phil’s 60th birthday celebration. But these poor moms now. Oy. The doors are wide open, and here come the crazies.
Oh, and I’m totally guilty for being one. The ones who have been there before so heartily that they can’t NOT give the un-asked for, often cringe worthy advice (I had TWINS. HAYO!). I get it now. We are just trying to save the young Jedi’s from all our past mistakes. You know, forgetting the Mylicone drops, so they were up with gas all night, and picking them up when they fall and immediately putting them in the bath (they’re just going to get dirty again, right?) We did those things, too, despite that unwanted and outdated advice we got as well.
As much advice as you get as a young mom, and some days it seems your dodging it with Captain America’s shield (if only), that advice undeniably becomes something else as they blossom into teen-dom. What’s the word I’m looking for? Oh.
Maybe it’s the smell, the disgusting pile of food wrappers under the bed, or the consistent eye rolling, but that advice is generally limited to, “Oh, good luck with that!” Yeah. That doesn’t help me and if we are getting technical here, that’s not advice.
You have no idea how much you miss the crappy advice when it stops coming, and even worse, the wholly vacant guidance for how to deal with the fact that this journey?
This, crying tears over failed pregnancy tests, waking up all hours with a crying baby, holding hands out in the middle of the night to stop the vomit, night terrors, play dates, kiddie rides, first days of school, Batman lunchboxes and homemade Halloween costumes, is well. It’s almost over.
No more Santa, or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Carving pumpkins is kind of boring, and watching holiday movies with me? Forget it. Its like torture.
ONE piece of advice they did share;
“It goes so fast”.
Not advice, per se, but more of a warning. And they were thoroughly and unfortunately, all too correct. It happened one day when I wasn’t looking. I had my back turned, I was making coffee, I was cleaning the house, paying the bills. I was food shopping, back to school shopping and making doctor appointments. And when I came home one day from keeping with this life, they were huge; no more Nickelodeon, Power Rangers, Hot Wheels. No more juice boxes, footy pajamas and sweet smelling babies. They were replaced by Cartoon Network, sometime R rated movie watching almost adults, who cursed in front of me by accident and burped the alphabet.
Yes. My two almost fourteen-year old’s are entering eight grade this year, and I am a total, unequivocal, pile of mom-of-teen-mess.
It really did happen that fast.
The tired up-all-nights night,s and constant physical exhaustion of running after toddlers is replaced with a new mental exhaustion; a brand of your very own kind of worry that only comes with having a teenager. Worry is now of being bullied, failed important tests, girl/boy friends, proper hygiene practices, homework anxiety, and not to mention peer pressure. Your mind wanders to when you were that age, and you remember the heartbreak, the feelings of defeat, the loneliness, and the sheer and utter feeling that you were completely alone.
Yes. They feel alone, and consequently, so do you, and no one is offering advice on what to do about that.
I looked at my one son the other day while we were at the pool, who is now almost as tall as me. His shoulders are broader, his cheeks thinner, his laugh deeper. He’s filling out, becoming a man now and by next year, I lamented, he will be completely different. Not just another year older, but another year closer at being a grown up, on his own, and away from me.
It’s staggering, the thought; I have a few short years to fit in more trips, hugs (when he lets me), one on one conversations, pool days, and Christmas mornings. A very few, fast short years.
And when that realization happens, it hits a mom in the face. Hard. So hard, your vision is blurring, your head hurts, and you need to lie down.
No one tells you how to handle them actually becoming grown-ups. They only tell you how to handle the things it takes to get through childhood. Things like, croup, tonsillitis and potty training. They don’t open their guts and tell you that this is golden. All of it. All of the years.
Whatever you’re doing?
It’s fine. You are fine. Stop worrying about those little teeny things, and enjoy the big things. You are much smarter than you realize, and much more capable than you think.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the advice the day they leave grammar school, or how to tell your son that it’s not your fault she doesn’t like you; that your real friends don’t care what you wear and that your time in middle school is short, and even though it’s awkward, it’s supposed to be. It inevitably becomes a learning experience you carry with you to adult hood.
Tell the mom with kids on the edge of reason, that reason will come soon enough; that you will survive their awkward years with them, and you may have more sleepless nights, even if they pale in comparison to the baby years. Buy her a spa gift card now that she has time to use it. Take her to the movies and convince her that she may question her sanity right now, but it will all be okay in the end.
And lastly, while it feels like it’s ending, it’s not. You still have time.
Hug them when they don’t want you to.
Talk to them, even though they would rather to talk to anyone else.
Help them with Algebra, even if you must do it with them step, by painful step.
Swim with them.
Get interested in their music, even if it makes you want to poke your ears out with sharp pencils (Do we need to bring up Vanilla Ice?)
Listen to what they are saying to others.
Keep them respectful.
Get them in nature.
Play board games.
Eat dinner with them.
Be their mom. Not their friend. They may hate you for that now, but you will hate yourself later for giving in when you should have said no.
And finally, don’t beat yourself up. Every stage is hard. There is no magical age. Kids are kids. It’s all hard and you, mama, are doing a great friggin’ job.
I may not be getting advice in this stage, but I have decided to make my own. I will NOT be the mom that just says, “Good luck with that!”
Okay, I may, but directly after that, I will tell them they are not alone, that I am here, and hey, I have some advice….
Amanda Greenfield is a Romance Author and mom of three boys living in Pennsylvania.