June 22 17

On Father’s Day, I posted this on Facebook:

We decided to take the family to see Wonder Woman and now everyone’s crying.

And you guys, You Guys!, were all amazing. Because you assumed that everyone was crying at how good the movie was, how kick-ass Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was. And it was. So good. Except if you had seen me sitting there in my stadium seating, you would have thought I was watching a different movie altogether, because I was in tears. Yes. Crying my head off from the opening credits. Because my children weren’t crying because they loved the movie.

No.

They were crying because I had the nerve to force them to spend time with their father on Father’s Day and make them see this movie, complete with snacks and sugary drinks.

HOW DARE I!

Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems, friends.

One was having a panic attack about an upcoming math exam that she was absolutely going to fail. Basically it was all my fault because she didn’t have the two hours to spare, even though I had driven her and paid $85 for her to spend time with her tutor that morning. One had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and was forced to go out for breakfast with his dad and his grandfather…on Father’s Day. And one of them just doesn’t do superhero movies.

Everyone was yelling at me.

I’m finding this stage of parenting to be an incredibly difficult one. I was pretty good at the little years. My babies were champion eaters and sleepers, and were endlessly entertained by a light-up and extremely noisy bouncy seat. The problems were few. Sure, I once clipped Isabella’s finger instead of just her nail, and sure, we had an unfortunate trapped-behind-her-bed moment during Emily’s toddler sleep training, and well, there was that one time when Josh peed into his eye socket. And for the most part, it was easy to please my toddlers and kids and even tweens. You just have to get down to their level, plan a lot of playdates, watch a lot of plays and dances, listen to a lot of stories, and become an expert at melty bead projects.

But this stage? I don’t even know what to call this stage. Or how to navigate it.

You know that moment at Target when your child falls to the ground in a complete full body temper tantrum because you had to tell her that the marshmallow cereal isn’t kosher and we just can’t buy it so you just stand there trying not to make any kind of eye contact with anyone lest they judge you for basically ignoring said child and for maybe, just maybe, laughing a tiny bit?

Oh how I long for those blissful days. 

Yesterday afternoon I was on a work conference call [Note to self: this is a post for another time — Ali on Work Conference calls: A Nightmare Tale] and the doorbell rang. I put myself on mute to no one would hear my dog losing his mind, but really it was so that no one would hear me asking [screaming] one of my three children to answer the door. Literally no one answered the door. See also: The telephone. See also: Feeding the dog. See also: Letting the dog out. See also: Moving the shoes out of the front hall. See also: Filling the dishwasher. See also: Emptying the dishwasher. See also: Basically every single thing I ask of my children.

96% of the time I say the wrong thing. 48% of the time I look at one of them the wrong way. 99.9% of the time there’s never enough food in the house and 80% of that there’s never enough of the right food.

But you know, most of these things I can just say: This is what it’s like to have two teenagers and one almost teenager. This is just a stage; I know we will get over this. These are little things. The bickering between siblings? I did it. I 100% did it. And now I absolutely love my siblings. The “I will” attitude with no intention of ever doing the thing? I did it! I SO did it.

The real issue for me is that I’m going to soon be sending these young adults into the world to spread their wings and become actual, real-live adults. I‘m terrified that I’m losing time every single day to help them become good humans.

no tme

Emily just finished 10th grade. She has just two years left in high school before she goes for a gap year in Israel. Have I helped her realize that maybe she doesn’t need to get 100 on every exam? Have I helped her decided if she wants to take tri-sci or not? Have I made the wrong choice letting her give up the school play or dance? Was it wrong to have that argument with her over her skirt length?

Josh just finished 9th grade, he’s 1/4 finished with high school. How do I get him to decide what he wants to be when he grows up? How do I teach him the importance of shaving and of sleeping and of leaving his Madden football game for a minute? How do I help him be blissfully happy? Have I made the wrong choice letting him give up hockey, baseball, football? Did I snap at him too often?

Isabella is deep in the throes of middle school. Am I helping her navigate social media? Have I helped her learn to be a good friend, nay, a best friend? How can I help her with her academic struggles? Am I able to help her make good eating choices?

I blinked and my babies are grown.

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And yelling at me in front of movie theaters.

She got an A on the exam, by the way.

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  1. I’m feeling the same about these teenage years. They’re up too late, sleeping in too late, grumpy, stressed about school, would rather be with friends, always need a ride somewhere—”and some money too, please?”—and have their nose in their phone all the live long day. Every damn glass in the house is used every single day and I feel like I’m at the grocery store every day too because they eat everything. We’re whisking them away on vacation in a couple weeks and darn it, we’re going to have some good old fashioned family fun!

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    THE GLASSES OMG I KNOW.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Alison on June 22, 2017
  2. You are raising amazing humans. Because they are loved and clothed and fed and smart and funny and independent, and, and, and. And good lord, I was the WORST teenager! THE. WORST. But I turned out pretty OK.

    And your babies will too!

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    Thank you!

    I needed to hear this. It just feels like such a tremendous responsibility….meeting their basic needs was the easy part. The making sure they are good people is WAY harder.

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    Kristabella replied on

    I bet! I can’t even imagine! But I think the fact that you are worrying about them and wanting them to be good people is the biggest thing! So you’ve got that!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kristabella on June 22, 2017
  3. You just accurately described my life, except with one child. He is miserable all the time, but mostly at me. His father is perfect.

    Keep it up, your doing great.

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    Heidi replied on

    Me too. My eldest hates me. He thinks his deadbeat father rocks. It’s painful and hurtful but I cling to the hope that one day he’ll figure I was the one who did everything for him and his father did zip.

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    Comment by Jodi S Schulz on June 23, 2017
  4. Your children all appear to be amazing beings AND very well adjusted. You can trust you have done a good job.
    I do understand the feelings though- my kids are 20, 19 and 16 and now the older two are home for the summer and it’s like a chaotic storm goes through our house very day. And when I am deep into the “why am I the only one who can empty the dishwasher?!” at the end of each day, I too despair over whether my kids will be able to function as adults out in the world. But then I try and take a step back and think about the progress they have made, such as the two older ones have been living away at school (with roommates who haven’t killed them!) and seem to be navigating their way.

    Maybe this comment was more to convince myself that I haven’t completely failed?

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    I feel like you are exactly a few years ahead of me and this truly, truly gives me hope. :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Chris on June 26, 2017
  5. Welcome to my world. This is such a tough gig – parenting teenagers. My eldest grunts at me, never does any schoolwork and is a total slob. My middle one is the responsible one. My youngest is a diva. Most of the time I’m drowning and have zero idea how to parent and just want to run away. Their father is absolutely useless and goes out of his way to undermine everything I do.
    BUT… they are all decent, loving and good kids so I guess I must be doing something right. And so are you. I’ve had to scale back work to do this stage of parenting – they need me more than ever and with no other parent around (dad works away and contributes zero when he is in town), it’s all me. I refuse to allow them to drop sport etc – they need to have balance other than schoolwork so its basketball 5x per week with training and dance 2x per week for the diva plus voice lessons and choir. Plus all the cooking!!! Oh the cooking and the whining about food drives me nuts.
    Ali – you’re not alone. I find kids to be enormously selfish at this age and we just need to ride it out.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Heidi on June 26, 2017
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