You know what I just began noticing? You don’t read much from moms of, shall we say, “middle-aged” kids. There are one million blogs relating to moms of littles but not so much from the moms of the older set.
Well I’m here to tell you I have figured out why.
They are dead.
Figuratively, of course. They still breathe. *I* still breathe. But we are dead nonetheless. Let’s retrace our steps, shall we?
When your kids are toddlers, you’re in the weeds, man. It’s survival mode all the time. When my girls were toddlers, I was alone a lot. And by alone I mean I had two whiny girls hanging by my shirt hem all day with no other adult in the house. I’m talking about the kind of alone where you race to try to finish going to the bathroom before a stealthy baby pulls all the toilet paper off the roll. My husband, God bless him, worked a lot back then (but can we get a hallelujah for retirement life??) and I was by myself with no backup (there is a certain anxiety that comes with a husband whose job allows for exactly ZERO sick days. They had to be on death’s door to miss a day. Or have a wife giving birth, so long as long as it’s not game day). I was a frazzled mess 99% of the time (see many previous blog posts about this). But then came preschool. HOLLA.
Pre-school was the sweet spot for me. I had a little alone time during the day to do such luxurious things as grocery shop, fold laundry, and put away toys in peace. The little angels came home just in time for nap and they slept almost until the arrival of reinforcements. We moseyed into school around 9:00 (give or take) and no one cared if we were late. ‘Cause pre-school doesn’t have a late bell. If we didn’t feel like going one day, meh…we didn’t have to. ‘Cause pre-school doesn’t take attendance. If we wanted to go to Florida for four weeks in the Spring, poof…we did. ‘Cause as long as you pay the tuition, pre-school doesn’t give a fig if their charges attend or not. It was a flexible time of life. Tough, no doubt, what with raising lunatic threenagers and all. But it was mostly good times.
But then…THEN…you reach what you think is the promised land. FULL-TIME SCHOOL. And you think the real treat is when they are BOTH in full time school at the SAME school. One drop off, one pick up. It’s the stuff of legends. After a few days of hiding tears behind sunglasses, you are whistling Barry Manilow’s “Looks Like We Made It” on your way to the gym. But ya’ll. It’s a trick. Don’t fall for it. From Kindergarten to third or fourth grade, you’re on easy street. Everyone can dress themselves, they can swim and you can sit and read (READ A BOOK) at a pool, they can grab a granola bar on Saturday morning without rising you from your slumber. You start thinking the years of toil are behind you.
You are dead wrong.
It’s because when they turn about 9, they start to kill you a little bit.
It starts with opposition. It’s subtle in the beginning, but it’s cool because you know they are growing up and you have to let them express themselves (only to a degree…NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE (signs) up in here).
Then their rooms get messy and they “forget” a lot of chores.
They lose eleventy million water bottles and uniform jackets.
They fight with their siblings about such serious matters as which couch they are allowed to sit on and show unbridled rage if said sibling copies their ice cream flavor choices.
This kind of racket, it kills you softly, Fugees style.
School eases you in too. First it’s just a book report here and there. Or some harmless math facts. And then BOOM! Before you know it, it’s full on science projects and hours of math work on the computer.
And all this academic rigor just happens to coincide with a desire to try every new activity known to man. Fencing, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming…sign them up!
So there is a serious uptick in homework at the exact same time as a drastic reduction in free after school time. Basically, you drive around in circles every afternoon until infinity and feed them peanut butter and banana sandwiches for dinner in the back seat of the car whilst yelling about completing homework and taking a shower. (Oh yes, indeed. They even argue about taking a shower).
The hamster wheel turns at a dizzying rate.
Those dark, early mornings of dragging cranky people–including yourself–out of bed and listening to them shriek over who gets to hold the remote control chip away at your exhausted soul a little bit at a time. Oh and lunches. Packing lunches shaves years off your life. Because why would any two children want the same foods for lunch? That would be sheer madness.
And all that is to say nothing of the most dangerous killer: the ATTITUDE.
In case you weren’t aware, and I speak from experience here, 10 year olds in particular are experts in ALL fields. Whether it be American Idol, water skiing (after having skied one time), or astrophysics, they know it ALL. And they NEVER STOP TALKING about their infinite knowledge. People, there is a limit to how much I can pretend to care about the America’s Got Talent finalists.
They also have laser focus. But only for things that do not matter at all, such as learning the names of every single Beanie Boo in production. But when it comes to brushing teeth, putting on shoes, hanging up a towel or remembering a homework folder, you can just forget it.
Which brings us to the sighing. My God, the sighing. It’s almost as though they are prepping their lungs for a free-diving competition (because they have taken up free-diving as an after school activity as well). Each time you utter a denial of their pleading request (can you buy season 4 of Full House on Amazon???) or make an “unreasonable” request of your own (will you please clear the breakfast dishes??), they give the lungs a quick exercise in loud, dramatic inspiration and exhalation (is that a word?).
And along with the sigh, comes another skill of mastery (remember? They are experts at everything): the eye roll. I’m not sure how any 10 year old could possibly need glasses with all the calisthenics their eyeballs are getting in eye rolls. I’m thinking about making my 10 year old wear a hat with messages written on the underside of the bill like “close your drawers” or “be nice to your sister” in hopes that she can get some subliminal messages with the infinite eye rolls. Worth a shot anyway.
But the worst part of all of this is that we mothers of “middle-aged” children carry the knowledge that the worst may be yet to come. This could be only the beginning.
We are not fools. We know middle school and high school could put this to shame and we are very, very afraid. Between trying to keep our heads above water today and prepare for the unknown future (and the inevitable heartbreak of these precious chill’en leaving the nest), we are SO dead; the victims of yet another different-hard stage of life.
So that explains why the world doesn’t hear much from us. Cut us some slack. And may eternal rest be granted to all the moms of “middle-ages”.