Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Proactive Parenting

I realized today that I miss blogging.  I have so many thoughts go through my head that I should record, thoughts that may be helpful to others.  Or maybe writing is just a good form of therapy for me.

I don't know if you've experienced this, but life passes all too quickly.  When my four children were little I thought I would lose my mind trying to keep up with the expectations of motherhood.  It was really difficult to enjoy the journey because I was always stressed out.  We tried to have fun together as a family but for the most part fun was so much work, just like everything else.

All of a sudden my kids are so grown up.  My oldest just celebrated her first anniversary.  Yes, she's married.  That still blows my mind.  At that point a year ago I realized I only had a year left with my next oldest child and the tears came early.  My youngest is 11 and old enough that he can fend for himself which gives me a lot more freedom as a mom.  The next one up is 13 and my oldest boy is 17 and just graduated high school.  I have spent the last year enjoying the journey as much as is possible.  I have attended concerts, enjoyed their talents, prayed with them, cried with them, and laughed with them.  Not that we didn't do these things together before, but I appreciate them more because I recognize they will not be with me much longer.

Other parents have told me it's wonderful to have your kids leave home.  I haven't felt that way.  When my oldest got married it took me months to quit counting heads and wondering who was missing and where she could be before realizing I don't need to include her in my head count anymore.  I probably worry about her more now than I did when she lived at home.  As my next child prepares to leave for his mission at the end of the summer I know I will worry more about him when he's gone more than I do now.

Despite the craziness of life, the thought occurred to me today that my husband and I have achieved our goals as parents.  When we first got married, we decided we wanted our house to be the teenager hangout.  We may not be rich & have all the cool stuff, but we are able to provide plenty of entertainment, lots of yummy food, and we are able to be involved in their lives.  Hubby & I both felt that we did not tell our parents most of what went on throughout our teenage years and we didn't want it to be that way with our kids.  There's no doubt in my mind that my kids keep secrets, but for the most part they are willing to share with me things I never would have told my parents.

I realized when my kids were young that I needed to listen to them instead of ignore them.  Just the other day I heard a mom tell her kid that she didn't care about what he was interested in and I cringed.  The boy was 5 years old and I can only imagine what kind of havoc he will cause as a teenager just because his parents won't take the time to listen & care.  Then when they becomes "tweens" and go through puberty they want to shut down and not discuss what they're going through, mostly because they don't understand that the hormonal changes in their body is causing a lot of confusion and frustration in their minds.  As teenagers they start being interested in relationships I would pry and not give up when the going got tough.  It has all paid off (so far).  Now when my kids friends are struggling or in trouble, my kids aren't afraid to ask me for help or offer help to their friends because that is what is normal for them.

My oldest two kids have not received their drivers license until after they have graduated high school.  Not for the lack of trying, though.  My daughter was too involved with her friends and really wasn't interested in having a license until she needed one for her job as a nanny.  My son wanted his right away but became very busy and then was too involved with drumline, marching band and friends to take the time necessary to get a license.  Honestly this has been an advantage for me to stay involved in their lives.  I know where they are (most of the time) and have the opportunity to talk with them about their day one on one.  It also prevents the ability for the child to disappear with a vehicle, wreaking havoc. (Apparently I like that word tonight!)  Sure their friends come & get them & go places, which is nice, but I then can meet the friends and typically know where they'll be.

My son graduated high school this week and I have the thoughts going through my head, "Have I taught him enough?  Will he still come to me if he needs help?  What could I have done better?  Is it too late to teach him more?"  The answer is basically, "I don't know, that is all yet to be seen."  Meanwhile, this is just the beginning.  He gets to make his own decisions now.  Not that I won't guide him or give him advice, but the goal all along is to prepare the kids to be able to make good decisions on their own so they can be great contributors to society.