When I had little children and struggled with mothering them, I often wondered if it (parenting) ever got easier. Some people said yes, but most people said that it just gets different. I am now one of those second lot of people. Yes, it just gets different.
I also now subscribe to the saying that “Small children equal small problems and big children equal big problems”.
As of yesterday, I am a mother to two teenagers and boy! does that scare the living daylights out of me. Not that they’re bad teenagers. Quite the opposite. Clearly, I’ve done the mothering part right, because they’re both really good kids (mostly), it’s just that the worry bit of mothering is all of a sudden huge!
When they were little I worried about things like will they ever sleep through the night? Will they ever wee in the toilet instead of the nappy? Will I ever get to sleep in again?
These days, I worry about what will become of them once they leave school, or even how will they manage in their final years of school with their own particular challenges?
I have one autistic son with quite a bad stutter, anxiety and a gaming obsession and another with low self-esteem, anxiety and a similar gaming obsession.
And while these would be quite manageable for someone with a healthy bank account and perfect health, I am not that person.
I am lucky that we’ve found a psychologist for my 13 yo who doesn’t charge a gap fee and who he actually is willing to talk to, but my 16 yo believes he doesn’t have anxiety and won’t see anyone, thanks to a psychologist who told him so a couple of years ago.
The 16 yo also refuses to do anything to address his stutter. We attended speech therapy for several months a few years back, but my son just wasn’t prepared to do the work and called his stutter his “friend”. He’s not copping any grief for it from his classmates, but I worry how it will affect him post-school, particularly in the workplace.
He also spends way too much time gaming, instead of studying and then catches up on study at night when he is meant to be sleeping. He has suffered with mysterious stomach pains and headaches this year, which I attribute to stress. He knows he needs to do well in maths to get into the course he wants at uni, but he just doesn’t want to give up the gaming and I don’t have the stamina to keep arguing with him.
Of course, I should just take away his devices until he gets his act together school-wise, but I don’t know how to cope with the drama that would follow on my own. Not having a support system makes drastic approaches like this really hard. But I will do it if I really, really have to.
My younger son hates school. Always has. And, frankly, as a fellow school hater, I don’t blame him. I, too, always hated school, for no particular reason, other than I just wanted to be home. We have fought many battles over school refusal in Grade 5 and while things have settled down now in Year 7, he still hates going every morning, making my mornings hell. He can’t wait until he is allowed to leave school at the end of Year 10, even though he has no particular ideas about what he might like to do then. Other than game 24/7.
The night of my younger son’s 13th birthday, all of this got on top of me. I felt totally overwhelmed with the responsibility and lack of resources to help my children be the best they can be and had a little cry. I began questioning all my parenting choices and wondering how the hell will my kids manage when they no longer have me around to fix things? I certainly won’t be the helicopter parent once they leave school.
Maybe that’s exactly what they need though. Maybe they need to fail and to climb out of that failure by themselves to truly gain their independence. I know I did.
I just wish I could do more for them now to prepare them for life. And I wish I wasn’t so alone in shouldering the worries about them. It still stings that their father so completely erased himself from their lives when he left. Not even an attempt to contact them on their birthdays. And a measly $15 a fortnight in child support to help with the enormous cost of raising them.
My financial situation is killing me emotionally. Although things are not as dire as they have been in the past, they are still hard. Every expense makes a difference. Every bit of money I earn in my business and in my job does too.
I feel like I am working so hard at life right now; even my usual kid-free week during the school holidays didn’t recharge my batteries. I could use an emotional holiday. And a million dollars.