Ten years ago, while we were all up breastfeeding hungry, sleepless babies at 2 AM, dealing with chafed nipples, and being #zombiemoms, you could prop your kid on your fancy breastfeeding pillow, let them latch on (goddess willing!), and pull up your laptop or first generation iPad and look up any number of amazing blogs from moms all over North America going through the same things and letting you know that you were not alone.
Not alone in crying every day because you were going through post-partum depression, but no one else around you seemed to really understand you or why or any of this stuff.
Not alone in dealing with a kid who was delayed in his/her speech, walking, milestone-hitting-moments that everyone else seemed to be bragging about.
Not alone being the co-sleeping, baby-wearing, weirdo hippie mom while everyone else was talking about sleep-training and side-eying you whenever you brought up elimination communication.
Communities were built. Moms groups made online and then IRL. Friendships were forged across miles, through the ether, and in the comment sections, through our shared parenting struggles and triumphs.
This past month, social media was ripe with everyone posting the “How has aging hit you?” or #10yearslater challenge. After I caved to the bandwagon that is social media and posted my pics, a friend commented that my pics were pre- and post- kids and it was this fact that had “aged” me. She wasn’t totally wrong.
Times have changed. We have changed. Even my eyebrows have changed (damn you 90’s and THANK YOU lash/brow serums)!
Blogging has changed too. Bloggers of old realized that their babies were no longer babies. These little beings once written about in all kinds of TMI detail, can now read and use Google, and have their own social media accounts. Our babies and all their little friends are one click away from all of the confessions and minutia of those early days of parenting (and social media). In the wake of these babies growing up, whole blogs have been shuttered, names have been changed to protect the innocent, posts deleted, and new online identities and spaces created or re-created. Our kids grew up, and it was the end of an era.
And here we are.
With tweens and teenagers and they have phones and their own Instagram accounts and play far too much Fortnite for our liking and are these weird and wonderful digital native creatures and raising them is harder now than it ever was at 2 AM every night when they were 3 months old and I NEED ALL THE DAMN MOMMY BLOGGERS BACK RIGHT EFFING NOW!
It’s hard out here for a mama going through puberty.
And if you think the shaming of moms is bad when the kids are babies, just you wait.
How your kid behaves in school, in sports or extracurricular activities, and with their peers becomes an even more direct reflection of YOU. If they veer outside of the lines of “good” in any way, well, OBVIOUSLY, they learned this “bad” behaviour at home and therefore you are a terrible parent. We internalize these thoughts and feelings of “Shit, I really am fucking up my kids” and, as we often do with all aspects of the “I am not enough” limiting belief - we overcompensate. We try to FIX them. We nag and yell and shame them into proper behaviour, proper words, proper “goodness”. We clear the way of any and all obstacles we think will hinder them in making good choices.
We helicopter and lawnmower and snowplow parent like it’s a do or die situation.
We do so without stopping to remember that the whole point of tweening/teening is for them to figure out a whole bunch of life skills for and by themselves and messing up is a crucial part of the process. Our job is not to be fixers or obstacle removers. It is to be boundary setters and safety nets. We can only teach them so much and offer suggestions for success, but we have to step back from taking over and doing the work they need to do to succeed. It’s the whole “natural consequences” thing taken to the next level, and while no one wants their kid to go without their lunch or a warmer jacket because WE know how that feels, THEY are never going to know how that feels if we are always showing up with the proverbial lunch and/or jacket.
I am here to tell you that I hear your frustrations moms and dads, I know your pain.
I can’t even tell you the amount of repetition that happens in my house as I try to hammer home….. ummmm, have meaningful teachable moments with my children about what they should do in order to do and be their best selves. Simple things, like eat a proper meal to fuel your body for your activities, practice your music/dance/sport in order to get better, study for your quizzes and tests, wear weather appropriate clothing, and PUT ON SOME DAMN DEODORANT ALREADY CAN YOU NOT SMELL YOURSELF, AND WOULD IT KILL YOU TO RUN A COMB THROUGH YOUR HAIR?
You know… the usual. 🤦🏻♀️
I’m sitting here finishing up this post in my local cafe, looking at the moms here with their babies and toddlers as they wrangle them in and out of snowsuits and carseats and highchairs, and I envy those simpler times. When the biggest worry today seems to be how small to cut up the strawberry bits for your kid to eat without choking and hoping they don’t melt down before you get home for nap time.
Oh, the good ol’ days!
A few weeks ago at my kid’s therapy appointment (because yes, this is a thing we do), their therapist told me something that will carry me through many, MANY, challenging teenage times to come…
She told me that we (my husband and I) are doing a good job at parenting.
At setting boundaries for our kids. At validating their feelings. At giving them room to grow and figure out their own shit, even though everything inside me is screaming OH MY GAWD, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST DO WHAT I SAY WHEN I SAY IT BECAUSE YOU AND I BOTH KNOW I AM RIGHT AND WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME!!!
Know this my fellow parents of tweens and teens, I hear your inside screaming. I see you doing your best and feeling like you are constantly failing because you’ve said the same thing 495,872 times to your kid and you’ll likely repeat yourself AGAIN tomorrow. I see you doing this over and over and I see your kids too and I am here to tell you…
YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!!
Keep setting those boundaries, keep validating those complicated pre-pubescent and pubescent feelings, keep being the net for your kiddos, and keep helping them up when they fall and then stepping back again.
This is our parenting dance now. We’ve taught them the basic steps and now they have to find their own rhythm. It’s not always going to be easy to watch, there will be many missteps and clapping on the 1 and 3, but they will eventually get it (just like we did).
We got this.
The kids are gonna be alright.
And so are we.
With you in puberty parenting solidarity,