My son is in his early teens and it has been a challenge much like every other stage in his growth. No more infant sleepless nights, no more toddler tantrums or potty training or tween rage, but now this. Now he’s at an age where he’s starting to be more mature but yet he’s still a kid mostly. I miss the cute little kid he used to be but am enjoying this new young man. Now, we can talk about so many things. He knows what’s going on in the world and is more aware of people’s feelings too. We can watch more than just cartoons together and bond over our love for superheroes. He can help his little brother with homework or stick up for him at school. He can open a tight jar for me and reach the higher shelves. I watch him hang out with his buddies as they joke around and roast each other. He’s happy and it makes me smile.
There are times it isn’t so much fun or as easy to connect too. He still just wants fun and is not happy about chores and responsibilities. He gets angry and irrational and we have big arguments. He fights with his brother and wants everything his way. He’s also at an age where school is getting harder and more stressful and social interactions are more complex. I don’t always know what is going on in his head.
I keep trying though… not to be his friend, but a parent he can talk to and learn from. He still needs structure and guidance and most of all love. Some days that is not easy at all and I get worried that I’m losing the closeness we’ve always had. Other days, he cuddles with me on the sofa and shares stories of school or jokes from social media. It’s not always easy to get a boy to talk and share and even harder with a teen but I keep trying. I guess trying and being available is key. I’ve also realized that I need to show interest in the things he likes. Sharing fun activities with him leads to conversation or just good memories. I’m not athletic at all but I still go shoot hoops or play ping-pong for this reason. He teases me for my skills but still keeps asking me to play so I guess it’s a good sign. One day I will master the art of raising a teen boy and when that day comes…he will have moved on to young adulthood!
I’ve been parenting a teen boy now for a year and it’s been quite interesting. It’s often a challenge because the struggles seem to make no logical sense. However, it isn’t all bad. During the calm hormonal spells, we are able to have provocative discussions and have a friendly relationship. However when the tide is high, I’m the enemy and all bets are off.
I tried to explain to my younger son why his teen brother behaves the way he does by comparing it to Bruce Banner and the Hulk. I told him that when his teen hormones kick in, he can turn into a rage monster and even he can’t control it. That helped a little with the sibling issues it was creating. It also helped me to accept some of the crazy arguments we were having, such as why he needs a coat in sub-freezing weather or why sweats aren’t appropriate party wear. It’s very hard not to take the fights personally when you feel you’ve been the most loving and understanding parent you could be. But, you have to step back and realize it’s all part of growing and testing their boundaries. They want to be independent but still want to be catered to when it suits them. That makes me crazy since Mr. Know-it-all should certainly be able to remember his chores or give himself a snack. However, that is not what happens. It’s a constant tug-of-war between the things I feel he is mature enough to handle and the things he feels he is mature enough to handle. I want to equip him with life skills and the ability to take responsibility but I also know he’s still a child and needs more guidance than he realizes.
Though these years often leave me missing and romanticizing the sleepless baby and toddler years, it’s not all bad. Though I can’t completely control my teen or drag him around in a stroller to where I want to go, I’m finding new ways to compromise with him. Now, I have to reason with him and maybe bargain about going to a store he likes if he comes to the mall with me. We’re in a new frontier. As much as the love and trust we gave in the early years was critical, this new ability to communicate and compromise will build an important foundation. This will help define our relationship as adults one day. No pressure!
I’m nervously laughing to myself as I write because this is all still a work in progress for me and I could very well fail. But, I think it will be okay. When he’s not in a defiant mood swing, he will cuddle with me and watch movies or ask for a favorite food. We will laugh together at our silliness or he will help his brother with homework. I will hear from his teachers how he is such a wonderful and thoughtful kid. He will open up to me about his thoughts on politics – within the family or the world. He teaches me to throw a football and tries to control his laughter when I can’t get a spin on it. These things give me hope that my wonderful child hasn’t changed but is just going through some growing pains. Though these pains are painful for me as well, these too shall pass.
I’ve been asked why I haven’t blogged in so long…well, my brain is clogged by this election. It’s been so stressful and contentious and it has been hard not to be distracted by all that. I mean I carry on with life and the things I need to do for family, home and work. However, my blog is an outlet for my thoughts and interests. It’s a random conversation about whatever happens to be going on in my mind.
These days…my mind has been cluttered with fear of the future and shock at the things going on in this election. The nation is so divided and both sides seem strong in their convictions. I’m pretty openly a Hillary Clinton supporter and have always been a Democrat. However, I’ve never been terrified of seeing the Republican candidate win until now. It was just a matter of not agreeing with all the policy ideas but I still had respect for the candidates (except maybe the Palin part). This time I am not happy about the proposed policies, or the lack thereof, but I am more worried about this volatile and hateful candidate who always thinks he is right. Trump is a very inexperienced candidate but maybe if he showed he was a team player he wouldn’t be as scary. Instead he is narcissistic and vows revenge on anyone who doesn’t agree with him. Our government is a 3 branch system which means they need to work together and seek compromise.
He also scares me with his racism and outright disrespect of women. The unfortunate part is that almost half the country seems to be able to ignore all that. Maybe people just want a change and they don’t think his hatred of minority groups is such a big deal. There are many who have their own prejudices and this is just what they wanted. While others are choosing to believe that it’s not as bad as the media is making it seem. How convenient! Maybe the civil rights he wants to stomp on don’t affect you right now so you can turn a blind eye, but it’s a slippery slope. You may be included in the targeted group down the road and then it will be too late to complain.
Anyway, I didn’t mean to go into all the issues but this is what has been clogging my brain. I’ve been shocked and saddened seeing people I know support Trump and wondering how we could be so different in thinking and have been friends. Political differences never upset me so much about my friends or family in the past, but this time they do. I am disgusted but don’t want to fight with anyone so I keep it to myself and therefore haven’t been blogging. I pray for our nation and our future and hope that our country can come together after tomorrow. I hope to be unclogged and able to write about family and TV and movies and a happy future! Til then…
Why is that when you’re feeling down, things often seem to get worse. I’ve been there before and also heard from many friends when they seem to be having a spree of really bad luck. Lately, I started to notice a pattern to all this misery. When you’re exhausted, or depressed, or in pain, you are prone to make more mistakes, get hurt or react badly. It’s the worst time for more grief since you’re already feeling bad, but that’s when things tend to spiral downward.
My mom always tells me that positive attitudes yield positive results (though she uses a lot more words to explain that). I listen but sometimes get annoyed at the over-simplification since you don’t want your pain dismissed when you’re going through a difficult situation. However, I think I get it now on a different level. It isn’t just about always believing in the best results, it’s about being in a positive and healthy state of mind. Bad things will still happen sometimes even if you try to think they won’t. But, they will happen more if you’re jittery because you haven’t slept or distracted because you’re sad or you overreact because you’re in pain, etc. It is in these ‘negative’ states of mind and body when more bad things happen and suddenly you feel like everything is going wrong.
The way to get to the ‘positive’ place is not just to tell yourself everything will be wonderful, since maybe it will or maybe it won’t. The way is to get the rest you may need so that you’re not so frazzled, or get some medication for what ails you, or eat some healthy food because you might be hungry. It is to get yourself back to a healthy, strong and more normal you. This is when you can handle things better and not get overwhelmed by problems. Sometimes you do need to also talk yourself into being more confident or less worried so that your mind is also at it’s best place. It often helps to reach out for support as well.
So get yourself to your positive place and it will yield positive results. Take the ‘me time’ you need to get yourself strong and stable before going forward. When you don’t and you keep going with a compromised mind and body, things often don’t have the best results. There is no shame in taking breaks and caring for yourself. In fact, it’s the only way you will be able to properly take care of everything else!
Whether good or bad, change can be very challenging to handle for many people. I happen to be one of those many. This year my family has gone through so many changes and though some of these changes were blessings, it still caused stress. There is something to be said for stability. Though it might eventually cause people to feel stuck or bored, before that point it makes you feel secure and comfortable.
This year, I started working after a decade of being a stay-at-home-mom; my husband changed jobs; we moved to a new home and new school district; and we had a death in the family. I won’t even mention the small changes. All this upheaval left me feeling stressed and anxious. I tend to like the comfort of familiarity. With these changes, I wasn’t sure how I would handle life the same way. I won’t know anyone in our new neighborhood and I’ll be at work so what will happen to the kids in an emergency? These kinds of scenarios plagued my thoughts. I wondered how I would handle the new responsibilities at a job I had never done before.
I tried my best to remember that change can bring growth and happiness as well. It can help us overcome fears and learn new things. Though there is uncertainty and risk of failure, trying new things can bring positive growth. I guess life is about constant change. In fact, I notice that when I resist changing, things around me change and I have no control. I’m forced to accept it and find the good in it. We should appreciate our present and enjoy it while it lasts but know that change will come and there may be a positive outcome from that as well. Enjoy the present and be thankful for it but don’t be scared of the next thing. Even if you fail, you’ll get up and move on….or it might become something new that you love. This is all easier said than done for people like me but you have to start somewhere!