Alien Abduction Would Be Less Scary Than What's Happening to My Children
It’s Monday night, March 26, and I’m penning what may be my last blog. I am afraid, no terrified, about what has happened this evening. It started around 6:30 p.m. My children, boys ages 8 and 10, went upstairs, put their clothes in the hamper, took showers and brushed their teeth without being asked. They then pulled the basket to the laundry room so that I wouldn’t have to drag it myself. I walked into my bedroom, and there they sat quietly, side-by-side, reading the books they checked out from the school library. They whispered something to each other and calmly said, “Oh, hi mom. Is it okay if we read these books now or would you prefer we start with other homework?” I panicked and backed out of the room, ran down the stairs and pulled the blinds to see if the spaceship that captured my children left any evidence of being there. I wanted to call 911, the Red Cross or anyone who would listen and help me expose the imposters who were still reading and engaging in polite conversation as I searched for a wormhole.
You may say this is every mother’s dream, but not this mother. This perfectly imperfect mom needs her perfectly imperfect children. First, I need to release the yells. I yell when I’m excited, when I'm protective, when I’m cheering them on and when I need to get their immediate attention. When someone hurts them, I yell inside myself to subdue the Mother Hen and bring forth the eagle. It’s a balance I enjoy. With football season over and cold temperatures interfering with my trips to cheer on my Atlanta Braves, I have nowhere to release the yells. I’m a country girl, and yelling is what I do. Thankfully, other seasoned moms have assured me that there will always be something to yell over, especially with boys.
Many of you are reading this right now, and wondering if I’ve lost my mind. This is the type stuff people live for, and who wouldn’t want children to do all of these things on a regular basis? I am pleased and proud of my two young men, but I do need the occasional wild rumpus of the wild things. Their unruly or ill-advised activity allows us all to test and determine the limits. Their behavior puts my parenting skills to the test, allowing me to provide wisdom, develop correctional behavior plans and bring down the wrath of the ancestors to let them know I mean business. That’s the part that makes parenting exciting. If they continue this model citizen bit, I’ll have to manufacture chaos to keep the world from tipping off its axis. I’m telling you, this is unnatural and shouldn’t be trusted.
Lastly and probably the part that bothers me most is this type behavior signifies maturity and growth. My young men no longer need me to remind them to shower or better yet, use soap. It’s a sign that they are growing up, right before my eyes. The things I’ve been saying to them are proving they have sticking power. Who knew? I mean, half the time I’m flying by the seat of my pants in this parenting game. It’s not like they gave out manuals at the hospital. They rolled me out to the car with an infant in arms, well wishes and looks like we hope you don’t screw up that little human you’re holding.
Now that my little people are almost as tall as I am, I’m facing that point that many parents and loved ones have encountered before. They’re not little dependent beings who need you to wipe noses and kiss boo-boos. They are reasoning, using judgment and going to each other for advice. This is how it works. This is precisely what they should be doing, and yet I’m in my feelings about it. I’m sure I felt the same way when they stopped crawling and started walking, but I was probably too tired and punch-drunk to recognize my feelings at the time. Now that I can sleep through the night without being startled awake by a toddler staring me in the face, I have more clarity and understanding. My children are growing up, and some of the good stuff is working. It’s bittersweet. I’m happy to see this next stage of parenting come forth. It’s mystifying to see that their bodies and voices aren’t the only things changing. The unseen, intangible elements of them are also developing – integrity, empathy, compassion, reasoning and thoughtfulness. All the things we hope and pray for, right?
I now understand the advice many people shared when they’d see me pushing an 18-month-old and newborn through the grocery store, “You’re doing great, mama. Enjoy this time. It goes by fast.” When you’re exhausted, hormonal and lactating in public, enjoyment is the last thing to come to mind. But they were right, it goes by quickly, and you’ll surely miss these moments.
My fear is subsiding, and I’m now embracing this stage of parenthood and everything it brings. In the meantime, I’ll take solace in knowing that these maturing little spirits also think it’s a good idea to walk on their hands, slide down banisters, and make hideous noises with various body parts. I guess all is right with the world after all.
Sidenote: They played the Lonestar song, Let Them Be Little, at my kiddos’ daycare graduation. The section below says it all. It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it. Grab the tissue!
So let them be little, cause they're only that way for a while. Give them hope, give them praise, give them love, every day. Let em cry, let em giggle, let them sleep in the middle. Oh, just let them be little
Let them be little
Lyrics by Richie McDonald/Billy Dean