That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of my state of mind during summer vacation so far.
Raising kids has that effect on a parent’s equilibrium, don’t you think? And the older they get, the more uncertain I get that my personal equilibrium remains intact.
The irony that I’m a Libra is not lost on me.
So here we are, entering week four of summer vacation, and one little incident throws me off. My equilibrium has been disrupted.
Naturally I second guess everything now, which is why I’m
complaining blogging to you about it. What is it about kids, about teenagers, that gets me into this state?
Why do I let them make me feel insecure, confused, precarious? Over one little issue?
The worst part (or is it the best part?) is that I see much further than they do with their limited life experience. I get that it has to be this way. They have only just begun to mature; I’m not blaming them.
This is my pity party and I’ll cry if I want to. 😏
Through introspection I can justify my actions. Or, more aptly, my re-actions. I admit I reacted yesterday which was immediately interpreted by the other three as ‘mom’s pissed off’.
I don’t deny that. I freely admit I was angry at that moment.
The thing is, kids see things linear. Maybe some men do, too. Certainly both males in this house did yesterday and the fact that I wasn’t backed up when hurtful words were hurled at me made the sting even more painful.
Wanna know what happened?
Dinner. Or, lack of dinner, be that as it may.
Here’s the thing. First two weeks of summer vacation we let the kid plug in with minimal restrictions. We got it that he wanted to decompress this way.
By the third week we had a somewhat calm discussion about cutting back, setting limits. We reached this conclusion mostly together, through open dialogue and all that. There’s been outings, tournaments, sports events and other things going on, so it hasn’t been too difficult to enforce. He’s been pretty good with minimal reminders on some days when there may have been a desire to stay on longer.
Yesterday, three out of four of us were busy all day. Busy mostly outside of the house.
The husband helped the fence guy drill holes through bedrock for the new fence posts. It was hot, humid, and the rock required additional tools to be rented. A lot of running around and physical labour was required of him.
He did fine.
The kids both had a swim lessons in the morning. One had a swim meet later in the afternoon. The other was free.
The dog’s last day with us (his family returned from vacation) wanted and needed walking, feeding, attention.
The grandparents were visiting.
The fridge wasn’t working right. It needed defrosting. I was planning on dealing with that the day after the swim meet and grandparental visit, but the temperature kept rising inside the fridge so I had to get started now before the food went bad.
I did that between tending to dogs and guinea pigs. And kids and husbands and the laundry blah blah BLAH. Woe is me…🙄
Lunch was desired by all. I made smoked salmon rolls and black bean salad and served with crackers. By digging food out of coolers lined in the hall, while the fridge was defrosting. Which was annoying but didn’t make the food any less delicious.
Between visiting and dog sitting and getting ready for the swim meet I didn’t have time to clear off all the lunch stuff. There wasn’t much, so I left it. There’s some people who are staying behind while I’m out…
Fast forward to the end of the day. The swim meet was moved to an indoor pool and the humidity and lack of air flow took at toll on me. The girl child didn’t notice, she swam a heat every 15 minutes or so for three or four hours and won all kinds of ribbons. The grandparents were happy to sit up on the top of the bleachers and watched the kids in the pool. The teenaged life-guards, not much older than my son, ran the entire thing and I was impressed.
“These teens have a good handle on things”, I remarked to my mom and she agreed. The teens were awesome with the competitive swimmers, some of whom were as young as 7 years old. How awesome to watch today’s youth interact and run a complicated event like a swim meet, all on their own.
Well done, I thought to myself as I texted my own teen who was home alone.
Your sister won first place in butterfly! I texted him with a picture of her holding a red ribbon.
Good 4 her, he texted back.
And second in front crawl, and backstroke too! I continued with two more pictures.
All her pictures look the same, is how he answered that one. (They were similar but not identical.)
The husband didn’t respond to the texts and pictures of ribbon girl at first. Probably still trying to drill through rock. I pictured him, sweaty, hot and probably sore from the labour. He’s a college prof, it’s not often he has to work with tools and things.
It was going on 6 pm when my daughter and I finally returned home. And this is when it happened.
My equilibrium fell apart.
Why is it me who has to deal with dinner? Even if someone had ordered something (without getting off the couch, for example), or set the table (or cleared off the remainder of the lunch stuff off the table), that would have probably resulted in less of a mom-freakout.
You think I enjoy the freakouts?
“Where’s the teen?” I asked the showered, tired-looking husband on the couch plugged into two screens.
He shrugged. No reaction. Until he saw the look on my face. Then suddenly there was all kinds of action…
The worst part was the accusation that was hurled at me by the emerging boy-child.
What hurt the most is its inaccuracy. It was incorrect to say I was angry ‘all the time’ – I had not, in fact, been angry most of summer vacation. Quite the opposite: I had let many things be in order to give everyone, me included, a break from all the micro-managing that may not seem necessary to them during the school and activity year, but is necessary to the equilibrium of both my state of sanity and the family unit. We’d all starve to death and run out of clothes if it wasn’t for me. (Or not, whatever. Work with me here…)
“What happened to the three-hour limit?” I asked no one and everyone.
Where is the curiosity factor that kids are supposed to entail when something unusual is going on? The fence guy brought in very interesting tools to deal with the backyard, and yet neither of my kids paid much attention. I was curious, I went out several times and asked about things…
Fortnite is more enticing, I guess. I realize it’s the social aspect of the game, not just the game itself, but seriously, it’s a bunch of guys shooting at stuff, how interesting can that be long term?
Clearly, I don’t play fortnite.
Long story a little shorter: While I took the dog out for a much needed walk and pee, I delegated with instructions what the rest of them had to do to get dinner ready STAT. I had visions of burgers, but they ended up getting pizza. (There goes my low carb diet, again.) And yes, I did a lot of talking about expectations and lack of backup from one adult to another and kids taking advantage of absent parentals and all that during dinner.
No one thought to put out some cucumbers or carrot sticks, either. Too much trouble to dig through some coolers? (And they want to go camping. Ha. I think I’ll stay home…)
The eye-rolling wasn’t pleasant, and neither was the…um, lets call it, verbal contribution from the teenager.
“You’re always angry,” he said to me more than once. “Why do you keep mentioning this,” he wanted to know.
I asked him that same question. “Did it work, the first time I mentioned it? What about the second, third time?”
He had no answer. Wanted me to stop.
“How will stopping dialogue about this ongoing issue help the family equillibrium?” I asked him. “You’re part of the problem, taking advantage of our busyness to get more gaming time in. You went behind my back and stopped regulating your time simply because we weren’t around.”
“I don’t know how to make dinner,” was his answer.
Really? That’s a load of horse crap. He made pizza, from scratch last week. (Blog post to follow.)
“Glad you mentioned that,” I said. “Tomorrow’s cooking lesson is how to make hamburger patties from scratch.”
(More eye-rolling ensued.)
Self-regulation is not self-induced apparently. And parenting isn’t going to be over anytime soon.
I spent the bulk of today writing, and rewriting, this blog post. It helped me to come to terms with what I did wrong (I admit my own faults here), and hopefully learn something about how not to parent teenagers.
And, to keep teaching those kids how to cook. 😜
Thank you for reading.