I write a lot of twin-pregnancy-related posts but today my heart is bummed and I can’t help but spew my guts about how tricky it is parenting older kids.
I messed up this week. At least, I feel like I did.
I’m on top of exactly how much sleep Arbor has gotten in the past 48 hours. I know how much milk Lucy has drunk (drinken? Drunken?) down to the ounce. I even know the precise measurements of my unborn babies’ waistlines.
But did I remember that Monday was Thanksgiving lunch day at Merrick’s school? Or that he had a presentation due involving giant cardboard boxes–his jam–that he was really excited about? Class pictures on Wednesday? Fundraisers to turn in this week?
And Mia–did it concern me too much that she chipped off half her shin doing box jumps during gym? Or that her throat was on fire Monday and I sent her to school anyway on Tuesday? What the heck grades is she even making? What book is she reading?
Here lately my mothering of the big kids extends to getting them out the door in the morning with coats and PBJ sandwiches in brown bags.
No afternoon talks, no outings. I get so focused on running running running (well, huffing and plodding slowly behind) after the little ones that I forget Mia and Merrick need me too. Sometimes I forget to even hug them during the day.
This realization kicked me in the teeth this morning when I launched into a lecture about Merrick not charging lunch at school when I had already packed a perfectly wonderful healthy lunch for him. I got my point across, alright–and only when I noticed his eyes water up before he slinked out the door without saying goodbye did I think for a second I may have been too hard on him.
He came back in and I grabbed him. “Why did you leave without a hug?” I asked.
He couldn’t even look me in the eye. “I didn’t think you wanted me to be here,” he muttered stiffly as the tears started falling.
You guys, this parenting gig is no joke. My kids aren’t coworkers or employees. They don’t get paid to act a certain way. They’re not even friends that I went out and made based on common interests and similar backgrounds.
I am their mother. I’m the woman who has been specifically selected and tasked with teaching them and loving them unconditionally no matter what physical challenges I am facing or how difficult time management is for me. I can’t expect perfection from children who are still learning every single day. I can’t lose my crap every time I get frustrated or embarrassed–my emotions are my problem, not theirs.
I feel like I’m making the mistake of going hard in my children’s younger years and then slacking off the older they get. I feel like I’m forgetting everything. I feel like I’m on the ball when it comes to making them feel ashamed of their bad choices…but not when it comes to feeling valued as an imperfect person, or loved as a son or daughter.
I need patience. I need energy, and maximum cognitive function. I need understanding and grace and encouragement.
I need prayer.
Not coincidentally, I need the very same things I’m struggling to give.
And this is just hard.