Have you studied? Did you practice? Have you worked out? Have you done your homework? Clean your room. I just checked your grades online, you have got to get your GPA up or your college options are going to suck. Empty the dishwasher. Take out the trash please. You have a lacrosse tournament this weekend. Can you watch your brother while I run some errands. Get some sleep tonight, you look tired.
Noah missed a month of school with mono. As I watched him sitting at the table trying to make up a months worth of work, I found myself becoming increasingly irritated at his inability to stay focused. I had been telling him for two weeks to get started and get it done and he hadn’t done a damn thing.
“Noah, put your nose in the book and get it done,” I annoyingly emphasized every single word. (Who still says put your nose in your book? He doesn’t even have books. He has an iPad.)
Noah has committed to a college to play lacrosse and they have been very specific about what his grades must be. After missing a month, his grades are not where they need to be and I am panicked this opportunity will be taken away from him. Therefore, I have turned into crazy mom, with those crazy eyes, angry because I am scared and trying to make kid accomplish the impossible and piling an extra helping of stress sauce onto his plate of WTF noodles.
“Mom, I am overwhelmed,” he responds exasperated and looks up at me with defeated eyes, “I don’t even know where to start.”
And my heart melted and I wanted to punch myself in the face.
We all know that feeling of having so much on our plate that we accomplish nothing because we are overwhelmed. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Why didn’t it occur to me that my child wasn’t deliberately trying to not do what he needed to do. He was just overwhelmed and needed help. We sat down and created a plan and he got started. And his mood changed completely. He did it with a smile. He powered through it with focus and I felt a thousand pounds of weight lift off my shoulders. (Wish it would lift off my holiday eating be-hind instead, but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.)
This process got me thinking, we push our kids to be the best they can be. It is our job as parents to guide them towards college. To create well rounded teens who speak two languages, who play an instrument or sports and give back to others. It’s our responsibility to help them create a resume for college that shows what a well balanced and successful high school career they have had. The stress our teens are under is at an all time high.
I have no idea how to stop that train. It’s left the station and all we can do is try and keep up with it.
That said, what finally occurred to me 18 years into parenting? (I’m a quick study.) I don’t teach my kids how to check out. I don’t encourage them to find healthy ways to shut down the voices. True silence. Like a hike or yoga or meditation or a good book or fishing. Not loud music or web surfing. The kind of silence that allows for perspective (even if your mother has lost hers) and refreshes and creates organization in it’s stillness. The kind that releases your mind of its chaos and allows us to breathe.
I am adding this to my “who I want to be this year” list. I want to be the kind of mother who teaches my kids to find their calm. I will still push them to be the best they can be and to work hard for opportunities that are within their reach and even harder for those that feel slightly out of reach. And. I will also teach them, with just as much emphasis, ways to step outside of all the chaos and seek out silence.
Look for more posts and ideas on this topic, including tips from experts soon.