If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

It's About Time

My teenage daughter loves riding the bus.

I know. There’s clearly something wrong with her.

Some of my worst memories of my childhood school days are from the school bus.

There was the bully who would steal my stocking cap everyday (probably a crude form of flirting, but who knows that in third grade?). Then there was the tragic makeover my Aqua Net-plastered Farrah Fawcett ‘do would receive after 20 minutes in the yellow wind tunnel. Or I could tell you about the time my spiral notebook caught the hem of my dress as I was getting off the bus – a fact I didn’t realize until the giggles and stares of about 50 “sympathetic” classmates clued me in. I could go on, but it’s too painful (sniff).

But Molly, my wildly social child, loves the chatter and excitement of the school bus. So she was none too pleased when her mama told her that she would be driving her to school from now on.

Up until middle school, I had always driven Molly to school. I was continually amazed at all the juicy information I would learn in that short car trip. Something about being trapped in an enclosed space – without all the distractions of life – forces conversations and interaction that would never take place otherwise.

When she hit middle school, she wanted to be like all the other neighborhood kids and ride the bus. Almost immediately, I felt like a vital cord of communication was cut. And at a time when hormones were already making rational conversations with her quite a daunting challenge anyway.

So, I risked her adolescent wrath and informed her morning social time would be with her mother. She was thrilled.

Molly: So you’re forcing me to spend time with you? Really? This ought to be fun.

And it first it wasn’t. Our relationship was already rocky at the time and, frankly, the thought of more time together didn’t exactly give me goosebumps either. But I knew more distance was not the answer. I knew I had to jump into the shark tank and pray I survived.

Now, almost a year later, I count that morning time together as some of my best times with her. Besides much prayer, I credit that “forced” interaction as one of the most important tools in cracking that tough teenage shell and improving our relationship.

I know many of you are years away from the teenage years, but set the patterns now of spending regular one-on-one time with each of your children. Don’t let go of that as they get older – even when they begin moving away.

It will be the foundation that God will use to help you weather the bumpy, wild ride of adolescence.

* This post first appeared a few weeks ago as a guest column on Cate's Real Life With Kids blog. After a week with the flu, I'm having a hard time forming a coherent thought, but I thought you might enjoy this until all my brain cells start firing again.
Melinda

12 comments:

  1. I was a transfer student in middle and most of high school so for most of that time I had to ride to school with my mom. We had such good conversations. Some days were quiet but some days were really good. It's time that I miss.
    I'm glad you're enjoying the time with your daughter and having the chance to keep up with her life.

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  2. The flu, you poor dear! Hope you feel better soon!!

    Girls are such a different breed. Teenage boys just grunt and any type of conversation are short painful answers.

    How was your day? "Good"
    What are you guys doing? "hanging out"

    The good news is, after they graduated the alien that held them hostage finally left them and my sweet boys were returned.

    Now they are wonderful, pleasant responsible adults that actually like to converse!

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  3. As always, such great advice!

    I hope that you are feeling better!

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  4. I hope you're feeling better!! A week with the flu - just what every mother needs to throw them completely off track, right?!

    This is fantastic advice. I hated the bus for many of the same reasons you stated, and I always tried to work it so my mom would drive me to school. That time was great for us. I hope to achieve the same one-on-one relationship with my boys. It's hard to imagine there will be a day when my oldest DOESN'T talk to me all day, every day, but I know that day is coming. :)

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  5. That is good advice. Although I'm barely out of the teenage years myself, I will remember this by the time I have one of my own.

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  6. I think you're so right about needing that time together.

    And sometimes, when they seem to be moving away, they're really asking a question they'd never voice -- are you going to come after me? Do you care?

    Love this post, Melinda -- and I do hope you're feeling better!

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  7. I hope you feel better Melinda!!

    Love this post. So glad you and your daughter found a way to stay connected. I will remember this :)

    Right now...the bedtime routine is essential for us. They actually want us there and I'm trying to take advantage of that!

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  8. Aww, Melinda, praying you are feeling better. Yucky flu! Yes, grab those moments when they come. Blessings**

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  9. Hope you're feeling better soon!

    I can't imagine liking the cheesewagon. My daughter loves it, but she's just in kindergarten!

    I'll keep this in mind moving forward, it's good advice!

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  10. Oh no! The flu can be so mean!!! & so can the bus! Reading this I had tons of bad memories flood back about the bus too! That is awesome your daughter liked it though! But I think that morning time WOULD be special! Our school doesn't have a bus and My hubby drives Annie every morning & he cherishes it.

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  11. So very sorry you are not up to par! Hope you are feeling better soon.

    Love this perspective - you know I am in the same boat and I appreciate the reminder! :)

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  12. Thank you for your wise words.
    They will be helpful to those yet to travel that way.

    I remember those "driving" days.
    Sometimes I would get in the bus lane just to have a longer ride.

    Even now with college kids living away from home, I will give them rides when I can "just to visit".

    I hope you are restored to your full health soon.

    I wrote a post Feb 20 entitled "Inconvenient Sick" which is what mothers get.

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