Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Who Said It Was Supposed To Be Easy?

I readily admit that its much easier being a parent to Paige than it is to Dakotah.

Paige's needs are more defined, and easier for me to meet. I can advocate for her when I need to, and she is easier on me than Dakotah is...Paige still thinks I know everything, and that I have the ability to always keep her safe, kiss all her boo-boo's, and make her laugh when she needs it.

Dakotah...well...we're entering what I think is the toughest part of my parenting job...the beginning of the task of letting her go.

She was an amazingly easy child, very bright, and easy going, and fun to be around. She enjoyed being a "single child" for quite a while before Paige arrived. I stayed at home with her and lavished her with attention. She was my world, and I loved every moment of our time together.

Even when she started school, with only the very best of intentions, I kind of went back to school with her. I sat on parent council, and volunteered a TON of my time at her school. I knew every child in her school by name, and knew about every moment of her daily life.

Now, I question whether I made the right choice to do that...certainly, it has become time for me to stop doing it...its not fair for her to be one of just a couple of kids in the school who's Mom is always around.

She is unique for an almost teenager in a few ways. She still loves to be with me, and never leaves my side when she is at home. She is chatty, and I hear every detail of her day, just like I have heard since she first started speaking at 18 months.

And, some things she is totally "typical teenager." She wants to stay up until midnight every night and sleep until noon every day. This doesn't work so well with a school schedule. She wants to spend enormous amounts of time on MSN messenger, and when she's not doing that, she wants to "hang out" with friends.

She also has evolved to the time in her life when she is really testing limits. Fortunately (I think!), her rebellion is in her quick tongue, and her ability to argue the sand off a beach. She follows the rule we set out for her most times, and we supervise her closely enough that she can't really get herself into too much trouble just yet.

I must say, its immensely exasperating for me to have her issue an opinion on everything that goes on in our house...from what's for dinner, to how *I* should dress, to the color of the front door we are painting.

She also feels a great deal of self-importance, and interjects on conversations exclusively between Wayne and I, because, of course, she knows best. We find it very hard to have a conversation any more with her around; even when she is in bed at night, I find that a day or two later, she is saying something that makes me realize she listened to everything we said.

I'm finding this quite demanding, and struggling with how to get past it without our house being filled with the drama that comes with being almost 13....the "no one understands" "no one cares" "no one loves me" "its not fair" mentality that is usually followed by a stomp off to her bedroom.

And, of course...she has discovered the dreaded b-o-y-s. Or boy, should I say. The same one she has had a schoolgirl crush on for two years now.

She is happy and fun and delightful when he calls her or sends and email, and miserable and impossible to live with when he doesn't.

The 42-year-old in me understands how silly it is that its all that dramatic, but the once 13-year-old in me remembers it all too well.

Today, she had to go to school and apologize to a friend because she had a bad day yesterday, and hurt her friend's feelings with a comment. Dakotah was being picked on by a couple of friends that were teasing her in good fun. She knew they were just having fun, but had one of those days when it was just hard to remember that.

Instead of telling those friends to stop, she lashed out at one of her longest friends. She felt horrible last night.

Its killing me. Absolutely killing me.

I hate that I can't swoop in and fix it for her. I hate that she is so emotional and so up and down with her moods. I hate that I had to be strict and firm with her last night when she was crying, because she created the problem she was crying about herself.

I hate that I had to let her take responsibility for it, and shoulder it herself.

Because she is almost 13, she is convinced that I couldn't possibly understand, and that I exist mostly just to torment her life.

I wish she could understand that this is the hardest thing in the world for me...letting go...hoping and praying and hoping and praying that we have given her the tools to survive these next few years gloriously; to become the amazing young woman I know she will.

She thinks I rule her life, but the funny thing is...

I have to literally talk myself through every step of independence I give to her. I have to convince myself over and over again that I NEED to let her make some mistakes, such as the very small one she made yesterday, in order to conquer bigger ones that might come her way.

I have to balance what "all the other kids are doing" with what I think are the right choices for me as a parent...and somehow find a way to give her that freedom a little bit at a time.

I wish I could tell her that I wanted nothing more than to hug her and cry right along with her last tell her I'd make it all better, and that she could stay home with Mom today, and we'd pamper ourselves.

The funny thing is, she woke up in a good mood, and didn't even ask to stay home. So, she probably didn't need me today half as much as I need her.

She can't understand how my heartstrings are tugging at watching her grow up. And she won't understand that for another 30 years.

I so want my baby back. And I know that trying to keep her my baby is one of the greatest disservices I can do to her.


The Imperfect Christian said...

When I brought my pre-teen home from the hospital almost ten years ago, everyone told me that was as easy as parenting got. I thought they were nuts. There was no way that an older child would be as difficult as a baby that didn't' sleep through the night and was permanently attached to my boob.

Little did I know! He is by FAR more difficult than both my girls (who also have DS). He is way more challenging and has given me a much harder run for my money.

He is also starting to let go and I am having trouble letting him. I know I have to do it, but it is SO hard!

Thank you for this post. It really hit home with me!!

Nicole said...

Aw Bets, I'm going to need you for Darrah in a few years. She is ALREADY much like that and isn't even 8 yet. Figure it all out girlfriend, so I don't have to. :) Nicole

Betsy said...

Thanks for your comments! Like Pajama mama said, you think it can't get rougher than a baby who doesn't sleep...but, sometimes it does.

Nic, I think Dakotah and Darrah are probably very much alike...too big for their own britches sometimes :)

Dakotah had a much better day, and arrived home cheery and non-chalant about her whole day.

Sometimes I'm convinced my kids are growing up faster than I am...what a silly concept to think that *I* am the Mom, lol.

Tara Marie said...

They are growing up fast for us, to them though, they just can't seem to get 'there' fast enough [you know it starts as the magical age of 13, then it is wanting to be sweet 16, and then 17 to drive, 18 to vote and move out!]

A friend of mine told me once, raising teenagers is like this "They move towards the stars and moon, and then disapear behind the moon,,,and you just pray they come out on the other side. with star dust on their hands".