No, I’m not talking about the election season, although I’m very grateful that’s over with.
We made it through the latest challenging parenting phase.
Beginning at the age of two, the end of August/start of September, marks the start of a phase in her development that is well, difficult. When she was two and three, it was expressed in the form of colossal bedtime meltdowns. Every night for weeks (okay, months) on end was a new level of epic. It was brutal.
Bedtime meltdowns are fewer and farther apart now, but that time of year still has the tendency to bring some new challenge. This year’s version included a best girlfriend moving to another country and starting at a new school. A school that was bigger and much different than her sweet little elementary school, where she had kindergartners hugging her when she got on the bus in the morning and she had known everyone there seemingly her entire life, to a school that challenged her far more academically than she had ever been challenged previously and she certainly didn’t know everyone anymore. Change is something my girl doesn’t always deal well with, even when she has a long lead time to gear herself up for said change. And she had plenty of lead time for these changes, which admittedly, were plentiful.
Yesterday afternoon, the phone rang, one of the neighborhood kids, asking for a ride somewhere. This particular one has left for college, college being that little state university here in town, so he’s still somewhat of a regular around here, known to run through the neighborhood on his morning run. He had come ‘home’ to vote and needed a ride back to make it to class on time. Edie looks up to this young man, so she came along for the ride. Along the way, we talked about his transition to college, how he had found it harder than he expected. I looked in the back seat and I could see my girl nodding her head. That’s when I knew she was getting past the changes and settling in. Something about hearing Addison admit to struggling with change opened up something in her, and just like that I could tell, we’re ready to move into the next phase of her life.
It was a bumpy transition, but I think it’s safe to say, we’re on the other side. It only dawned on me yesterday that we just stared down the 10 year old version of the 2 year old bedtime meltdown phase, with this one including some far more troubling behaviors like skirting responsibility and some dishonesty. It was definitely rough at times, but I kept in the back of my mind something my Granny used to always say, that it’s all just a phase and that it would pass.
There’s no warning that the sweet little helpless baby you bring into the world goes from being physically demanding to mentally demanding in ways you cannot imagine. That as they become more self sufficient and seemingly less in need of your full attention as to what they are up to, that they in fact still need a huge chunk of your attention, although slightly veiled, because you can’t hover too closely, too openly. That the transition of knowing what’s wrong with them and being able to fix it to having to let go and watch them move through the world, not being able to fix what’s wrong is agonizing. That if you let it, parenthood will make you be a better person, forcing you to grow and change along with that beautiful sweet baby that you know is still in there somewhere, despite how hard they push you away. Parenthood is a constant exercise in letting go, bit by bit, so that your child is someday able to make their own way through the big world out there, because really, isn’t that the end goal, that they become responsible, independent citizens of the world? It’s scary, it’s exhausting and it’s the greatest experience one can ever have.
Remind me of that this time next year and the year after and the year after that and so on and so forth, mmkay?