By Amy Weatherly
I bought bouncy balls for my son’s class treasure box. Something nice for the teacher, a simple way to show my son what it means to give back. A simple way to show him how much extra teachers do for their students.
Plus, it was a good excuse to go a little crazy in the Target dollar section.
So I took him to the store and let him pick everything out. We picked out basketball bouncy balls and soccer ball bouncy balls and pink bouncy balls and some that were just plain blue. This morning, he informed me that he is really hoping for a basketball.
My initial reaction was to text the teacher and ask her if she could hold one for him. After all, he helped pick them out, so he kind of deserves to get the one he wants, right?
But then the other half of me, thought “No, you’d better not. He needs to learn to be happy with whatever he gets. He needs to learn that you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. And you don’t need to be interfering in his life anyways. Stop being a buttinski mom.”
So this back and forth went on like a ping pong ball inside my mind for a solid five minutes.
|Balancing on that very, very fine line.|
When you have a baby, you walk this fine line and you worry about whether breast milk or formula is better, about whether your baby needs Pampers or Luvs, about whether to keep your baby in the room with you, or let them sleep in their own crib. Every decision is as delicate as that precious baby you are holding gently in your arms.
When you have a toddler, you walk this fine line and you worry about whether or not to start them in a Mother’s Day Out program or to keep them at home with you. You wonder whether screen time is really going to destroy your child for life like all the articles say, or whether one (or four) episode/episodes of “Paw Patrol” is fine. You also have to get the laundry done, and you can’t do that with your 2-year-old hanging on your leg. So back and forth, back and forth — you begin the process of wading through the mud to find what is best.
Not what is good. Good’s not good enough. You need to know what is best.
And then they throw a tantrum in the middle of the cookie aisle at Kroger’s. Right there, with everyone watching, waiting, wondering how you’re going to handle it. Right there in between the Oreos and the Chips Ahoy. Will you yell? Will you give in? Will you be too hard? Will you be too soft?
When you have a school-aged child, you walk this fine line and you stress about which school is best for your child. Again, this is your child. This is their education. The weight of your decision is heavier than a two-ton elephant sitting on your chest spraying water out of his trunk. This decision will go with them forever, so there is no adequate. There is no fine. There is no good enough. There is only what’s best, and it’s all on you to find it, like Waldo, only if you don’t find it, you can’t just turn the page and move on, you’ve basically ruined your child forever.
When you have a teenager, you walk this fine line of letting them still be a kid, and pushing them to become an adult. This fine line of going crazy and trying to keep your cool. This fine line of taking everything they own away and tossing it out the window of your two-story home and understanding all the changes puberty is putting them through. This fine line of being the adult who doesn’t put up with disrespect, and this friend who will come and pick them up if they’re at a party, starting to feel uncomfortable.
And then there’s the fine line of who to put first: your children, your spouse, or yourself. You can make the case for all three. You can easily argue on all three sides.
No wonder we are so exhausted. Our minds are a maze. Our lives are a juggling act. Our jobs are trying to find the black and white in a world full of muddled gray. Our jobs are trying to dance the tango and the waltz and the Boot Scootin’ Boogie and the Macarena all to the same bizarre song.
No stinking wonder.
I don’t have a ton of advice here, honestly. I’m not an expert. I’m right in the middle of the mess with you, my friends. We are mothers and we will always want the absolute best for our children and we won’t stop until we find it, even if that means mulling every decision over by digging through a giant haystack of articles and advice until we find the dadgum needle our children need.
I can only tell you this: you’re doing a good job. You’re doing a hella good job. You wouldn’t care so much if you weren’t. You wouldn’t worry so much if you weren’t. You wouldn’t be walking that fine line like Johnny Cash if you weren’t exactly what and who your kids needed.
They’re going to be fine, and so are you.
How beautifully relatable are these words?! I no longer feel sleep-deprived exhaustion as the parent of an infant. I no longer feel physical exhaustion as the parent of a toddler. And I no longer feel mental exhaustion as the parent of a preschooler. Instead, I feel an all-encompassing and overwhelming exhaustion as the parent of two tweenagers whose every question - and they ask A LOT of questions - requires a carefully thought out response, because the answers I give and how my children respond to them have significant real life consequences. I always wonder and frequently worry if the occasional anxiety they feel is normal for kids their age or if they're developing an anxiety disorder. I always wonder and frequently worry if the occasional sadness and emotional swings they experience is normal for kids their age or if they're depressed. I always wonder and frequently worry if I have created for them a balanced childhood, with the right amount of time dedicated to and allotted for academics, extracurriculars, play, rest, and sleep. When do I hold, when do I give in? When do I step in, when do I step back? How can I be everything they need, my husband needs, my employers need? All day, every day.
As the author explains, this is why moms are so exhausted. This is why, every night once I have finally tucked everyone into bed (and then answered all of life's most-pressing questions, because life's most pressing questions ALWAYS come up after bedtime), I fall into my own sheets feeling like I just ran a marathon, took the SAT three times, and attended a wedding and a funeral back-to-back. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my role as Will and Hallie's mother and adore parenting them at this stage of the game. But the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion runs deep these days.
The author admits to having little advice to offer, and I find myself in the same boat. I simply wanted to share this perspective because I expect many moms out there can relate and could use the buoying support of knowing they are not alone.
I leave you with Amy Weatherly's last few paragraphs and my small addition: stay the course, take each day/hour/minute as it comes, lean on your village, and take heart knowing moms everywhere understand.
Sometimes you’ll miss the mark, sometimes you’ll be off by a few feet, or even a few hundred. Apologize. Forgive. Get back up and keep going, keep trying. Keep trying to tiptoe across that tightrope. Keep trying to balance your way through motherhood. Keep trying to do the things that are the very best for your children. In trying, you’re loving them in a way that will make a loud difference in their lives. And I promise, that love will be the thing that carries them over the threshold from happy childhood to successful adulthood.
That love will be the thing that makes the most difference, not whether or not you call the teacher and ask her to set aside the basketball bouncy ball.
Love walks the fine line, and you’re doing it. You’re doing it better than you know.