Thursday, March 24, 2016

Don't Blink, You'll Miss It!

Parenting teens is not as fun as parenting toddlers.  I remember the tired, sleep deprived days of toddler parenting, when we would ask parents of older kids, "It gets easier, right?"  We thought it would have to get better, when you no longer have to worry about them putting everything in their mouths, or falling down stairs, or drowning in bathtubs.  When they have enough sense and experience to make their continuing survival require less constant eyes-on supervision.  When they would have words to explain their wants/needs/frustrations.

The parents of older kids would always smile ruefully, "It gets different."

Huh.  What the heck does that mean?  Not very helpful.  Or hopeful.

Now that we are here, I totally understand what they meant.  Sure, some things are way easier--teens don't need you minute-by-minute.  And they are articulate enough to explain almost anything.

I wasn't prepared for them to not WANT me though.  Or be unwilling to use those brilliant words to talk to me.  Their thumbs hardly ever stop as they text their words, thoughts, feelings to their friends.  Parents get only grunts, or maybe nods.

I am learning to watch for the secret signs of affection that come rarely, and disappear so quickly, you wonder if you imagined it, like the rain in a desert that is gone and dried before your thirst is slaked.
  • The silent fist bump at a band performance (I thought he was coming over for snack money)
  • The direct eye contact at school pick-up which must suffice for "Thank You"
  • When he mentions a fear of spiders, and I can't resist the impulse to put my hand near his lap and wiggle the fingers and he pretends mock-horror.  I am sure the corners of his mouth lifted a millimeter before he returned to his regular bored expression.
To the parents of adult children, I want to ask (but am afraid):  "It gets better, right?"

Friday, May 8, 2015

Career Diet: Just What I Need

Today's blog title is inspired by the "Six Word Memoirs" concept, which you can find at many online sites, including these:
A friend posted on her FB page challenging us, and I came up with today's title.  I am now back from my international business trip, and have finished our annual company conference.  Excited and energized by both events, but also tired, I am pleased with my six word memoir's double-meaning.

"Career Diet" encapsulates my approach to life.  Careers, just like food, can be wonderful, sustaining, enjoyable parts of our lives.  Like food, though, too much of it, or the wrong type, can also seriously hamper our quality of life.

I am fortunate to be happy with where I am working, and that has been the case for many years now.  I am challenged, have control over my schedule, and am paid enough to live comfortably and save for the future.  There have been times, and will be times again, when the work overtakes my life, and I have to go full throttle for a while.  Then I look forward to the pauses in between campaigns when I can spend some time on myself and my family.

At motivational work events, it's easy to get caught up in "what if" exercises.  Should I be a Director, or a VP by now?  Should it bother me if I am not?  Why am I not?  And what would it cost me to have gotten to that level of corporate achievement?  Sheryl Sandberg aside, it's still difficult to be a working mom.  And every family, every child, every marriage is different.  What worked for her won't always work for the rest of us.  She says "Lean In", and I understand why.  It's a great message, that I was eager for when I was 25.  Even at 35 it's good to be reminded not to take the foot off the gas unless you really have to.  But at 45 and up, I'm not shooting for the executive office anymore (though anything is possible).  And even at 35, you have to ask yourself if you are climbing the right ladder.  When you get to the top, is that really where you want to go?

Just What I Need:  not more than that if it will cost me my family, my other interests, my whole self.
Just What I Need:  Seems like the job is always wanting more of my time and energy.  Not sure if the diet is to limit how much career I consume...or how much of me my career consumes.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Quote of the Day

It's not a lot of fun parenting teens.  This is not news, I know.  Like millions of parents, we are going through the natural, normal, but still uncomfortable process of children separating from us to forge their own identities.

I've been having an especially hard time with our youngest.  He was always "Mama's" boy.  Even at his most temperamental in his preschool years, Mom was the one he was slightly more willing to listen to.  I was the one who covered his ears during fireworks shows, holding his head to my chest to help him feel secure while watching the bright lights.

At times, this was itself a burden, when I was elected to manage him in difficult moments.  He would still react negatively to the medicine, or consequences, or disappointment.  Just less so if it came from me than his Dad.

When he turned 10, it seemed to me like he was irritable all the time.  It got so that his Dad became the enforcer of discipline instead of me, as the old dynamics reversed 180 degrees.  Barley tried to apologize to me one day after a particular blowup (we have similar temperaments, btw, so we can both blow up at the same time.  DH and Teddy duck for cover), by telling me he was sorry, then explaining, "Lately, you just annoy me every time you talk..."  That didn't really make me feel better, but it did make me laugh that day.

On the eve of a trip out of the country, which I am secretly looking forward to escaping all the teen drama in the house, Barley and I are irritating each other again, just as usual.  With Mother's Day around the corner, I keep thinking about how little he really loves me at all.  I don't like looking at old photo albums which just remind me of the closeness we have lost.  Today I commented to him that it really makes me sad how he doesn't really love me as much as he used to.  For once he didn't take the opportunity to reply sarcastically, and instead, he said,

"No, I still love you just as much as always.  I just don't express it anymore."

Did he come and give me a hug and affirm how much he really does love me and will miss me while I'm gone?  No, of course not.  He's still a teenage punk.  But that was definitely the nicest thing he's said to me in a very long time.  I had to write that one down.