Today marks a milestone. It’s the first day of no school for me. My youngest decided to forgo his senior year and graduate early. It snuck up on me, really. No more school shopping, no more 5:30 am wake ups, no more homework battles, no more scouring Pinterest on June 13th to find a cute teacher gift, no more PTA, no more packing lunches, no more last minute runs to Michaels for poster board, no more a lot of things. So where does one find herself on the first morning of no school? Target. Duh.
As I was wandering through target in my target uniform; you know some combination of workout gear that has yet to experience any workout,(well there was one woman that looked like she had actually worked out thus justifying the uniform and subsequently making the rest of us look like the frauds we were) I couldn’t help but notice the moms.
There were the exhausted moms of preschoolers patiently waiting while their sweet angel “helped” them pick items off the shelf, and the moms of elementary kids skipping through the aisles then lingering as long as they wanted in the clothes department struggling to decide between the v neck or the crew neck Tee, and the moms of high schoolers rushing to pick out her root touch up color before racing off to work cuz dang these big kids are expensive and she can’t justify spending her days like she would want playing tennis for hours or reading on the deck with a cool beverage.
That’s when it hit me. I’m done! I actually survived getting three kids through school.
I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say there was a time when I did NOT think I would cross this school finish line. If you’re interested here was our struggle. But we have arrived, and since I have crossed the finish line I thought I would dispense a little advice to those of you embarking on, or in the midst of, the school marathon. You can take it or leave it.
First and foremost, save the mole that you so painstakingly and meticulously make with your first born. Because the amount you will care about Mole Day by your third child is exactly zero. And when the last child remembers at 8 o’clock the night before said Mole Day that they need felt and googly eyes for said mole you will not be facing the decision to A. Harm the child B. Let the child face the consequences of his idiocy or C. Pretend you didn’t hear him, pour another glass of wine and turn up the volume on The Office you are binge watching on Netflix. So seriously, save the mole.
This one I had to learn the hard way. You are probably way more enlightened than I was. But, let your chid run in his own lane. It’s hard not to heap expectations on our mini me’s. We unknowingly put pressure on our young-ins to achieve in ways they may not be designed to achieve. It is especially difficult in this ultra competitive world of parenting.
Don’t let your first born fool you either. That child that excels without even trying, that golden boy that rocks what ever he tries; he makes you look like a rock star parent. Look what I did! I created a super kid! And you did. But you may also have created a kid that doesn’t fit the I do everything great mold. Maybe you have a kid that doesn’t follow the path you envisioned for them. You may, no probably, will have a kid who disappoints you and frustrates you and puzzles you. And the sooner you realize that and accept it, the better you can love your child right where they are; with all their struggles and issues and opposing personalities and strengths you don’t yet notice or appreciate.
So let them run in their lane.
Spend your emotional energy on cheering them on in their race not trying to register them for yours. I can tell you this because I spent years trying to make my kid fit into my version of him. I regret that. Have an introverted child when you’re an extrovert? Read the book Quiet and discover all the amazing things about his quiet nature. And then don’t force him to swim in loud, crowded swim meets even when he is the fastest on the team and you want him to swim so you can be the proud mom of a fast swimmer. Not that I would know anything about that. Have a non sport playing child while you were a collegiate athlete? Let it go and help him find his passion, not yours. Have a child that doesn’t “fit in”? Celebrate his differences and remember that how they are in 3rd grade or 8th grade or 11th grade doesn’t define who their future self will be.
Maybe all your kids have found their lane and it lines up with your expectations and dreams. I hope so. But my guess is most of us will have a child or two that will take a different path than what we envisioned for them. Love them in their lane anyway.
I thought I had more advice. Turns out that is all I really learned from all the hours of homework and school projects and sports and school plays and college resumes and even recorder practice. Just let them do them. And be there to make sure they do the best version of them there is. And honestly, there is nothing sweeter than watching them find their lane! Also,who am I kidding? Recorders are worse than water boarding!