Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Halloween My Teenager Broke Up With Me

If you are a mom of small children, and do not yet have a teenager walking around your house, consider this post a warning:

Last year, I cried on my front porch steps, while I waited to hand out candy to the neighborhood kids. There was barely a trickle of them as the evening became later, cooler, quieter.

I had, quite unexpectedly, gotten left behind.

My husband had taken my two sons ahead, while I planned to hunt for candy with my daughter and her friends. 

Except, my daughter, who was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, but was actually a teenager in disguise, suddenly requested that I stay back.


She wanted to skip down the deep, dark sidewalks ALONE (with her friends)- clearly embarrassed by my presence. In her defense, she was trying to be kind.

But I was completely taken off guard. I. Didn't. Know. What. To. Do.

*Insert broken heart emoji*

Apparently, this is a real thing.  I've talked to other moms who've had the same experience.  
Apparently, middleschoolers break up with their parents on Halloween night.
Apparently, they forget who purchases their costumes and lets them eat candy before bedtime.

*Insert shocked/mad/teary face emoji*
If you haven't reached this motherhood milestone yet, you have time to make preparations. Get ready. The times, they are a changin'.

But it doesn't mean the fun has to end! It's just going to start looking a little differently.

As I was NOT prepared for this emotional parenting downturn last year, I made plans to face Halloween 2017 with a new perspective.

We hosted an early dinner party at my house, so that my daughter and her friends could get dressed up together. I conjured up a giant pot of chili, with a side of nachos, apple cider, and butterbeer. I invested in more decorations than usual (Harry Potter-inspired). And I made said teenager promise to pose for pictures before they left. 

"Memories," I warned. She complied.

Of course, it helped that the moms of her girlfriends were suffering from ghosts of Halloweens past as well. Missing their coordinated family costumes and little swinging pumpkin buckets heavy with loot, I made sure they felt as much a part of the night as I could.

Because we're all in this together, mom friends- trying to be cool and simultaneously saying sad goodbyes inside from all of this growing up stuff. *sniff*

But onward we bravely proceeded. Into this new world of Teenagerdom. Where they still need you, but not as much. Where they want you, but when no one else is around. 
Where. This. Is. Their. Last. Year. Of. Trick-or-treating.

So 2017 was both beautiful and bittersweet at our home. I canvased the neighborhood with my boys and their friends (no crying on the steps), while my daughter got her precious time away from her humiliating parents. All of the kids loved the extra festivities that happened to land on an otherwise typical Tuesday (as did I). And it turned out to be, possibly, our favorite October 31st ever.

Bonus: My unicorn onesie made the children just uncomfortable enough to be funny..and extremely rewarding. Bwahahaha.

*insert laughing hysterically emoji*

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Watching to See a Twinkle of Joy

He wants me to see him do a flip on our backyard trampoline, but he doesn't stick the landing on the first try.

"Wait, Mom! That's wasn't it," he quickly shouts (He knows me). "Watch!"

Look up from your phone. Stop the hamster wheel in your brain that's telling you to rotate the laundry, sign up for flag football, and organize the library...again.

It's hot. The trampoline springs squeak, and my son attempts another acrobatic stunt while I force myself to keep my feet planted on the concrete patio. To command my attention on this new physical feat. 

Stand still. Keep watching. You can do this.

He finishes his amazing trick and immediately jerks his face up to observe my reaction.

"Did you see it, Mom?"

Okay. Phew. Yes.

I clap. I smile, relieved and genuinely happy for him, but edgy to get onto the next thing. 

"Nice one!" I offer. He turns away to keep jumping. Proud. Accomplished. Satisfied. 

I spin around and head towards the house. A little proud as well (I didn't miss it), but not feeling as accomplished. There's still more to do.

Finally free to answer the call of the hamster wheel, I'm obsessed, like a woman grabbing at a cupcake to feed a sugar craving (I probably skipped lunch). 

This will make me feel better, I believe. 

And I irrationally convince myself that if I hurry, today will be the day that it all gets done and the lists will be completely crossed off.  

THEN, I will feel accomplished. 
And THEN I will give myself permission to enjoy more. 
But only then.

I think, Just let me finish this. 
Hold on. I'll be right there. 
Can that wait until later? 
After this is done, I will be able to do that.

But it's NEVER all done, is it? A finished project, maybe, that takes longer than you think. And later? When will THAT be?

It only takes five (however excruciating) minutes to pause from the compulsion to be busy and watch the trampoline show.  But it's such a struggle to discern the important from the urgent- to balance the meaningful and the mundane.  

Work HAS to be done, but so does life. So does love. 

Sometimes, it's true that you can love the work too.  It can bring contentment too. But it can also drain more energy than you were expecting, steal more time before you realize what's happening.

The occasions for spotting joy trickle in at the most random times. They don't call and set up appointments. They don't glare. They twinkle.  

The  windows of opportunity- to snap a mental Polaroid- open up intermittently in the hours you work and play. While you're making the bed or buckling a kids' seat belt. While you're answering emails or filling up the grocery cart.
To catch sight of a shooting star, you have to keep your eyes peeled. And you have to be aware of the full sky at the same time, because you don't know in what direction it will come from. Blink and you'll miss it. But wait, there's probably another one.  This could be a meteor shower. Or not.

Oh!  But when you see it! 
That open window. 
That back flip.
That star. 

Not the list. Not the hamster wheel.  Not some kind of perfect timing.  

Just a soul expectant and a heart observant.

Let everyone else race around in circles. You can stop. Just for a minute. Look up and keep watching. That's your life.

Isn't it lovely?