Where did all the experts go and why isn’t there a magazine?
That was the thought which came to my mind most recently as I struggled through a few parenting situations. Guiding the lives of an 11- and 14-year-old is proving to be nothing like what I had thought it would. But then again, if I’m totally honest, I never gave it a ton of thought – who really has the time?
Yet here we are, thick in the world of tween and teen and all that it brings.
Shortly after putting my kids to bed, after our most recent hurdle I thought back to when they were little and even before that. Parenting magazine was my go to for endless ideas and knowledge. I wasn’t one to read book after book on how to be a better mom, perhaps I should have been.
I tended to lean on what I knew. My mother, nor any of my aunts or friends’ parents had read books on how to parent and we all turned out just fine. We teach our kids what we know, to be responsible, respectful, loving, moral humans. Oh and look people in the eye when you speak, have a firmness to your handshake and smile more than frown – the basics.
That night however, while I was grateful for my mommy friends and the endless text feed we have of challenges, victories and who has time for a cocktail, I thought about the magazine.
As my children grow older I become more aware of how much advice, “knowledge,” general interest as it were there seems to be around the young ages. Carting around a toddler with a runny nose or rosy cheeks, cold advice would find you in any grocery line or at any playground. Fussy eaters, yep plenty to help you with that as well.
But then something happens, all the advice, all the experts or “I remember when” people begin to fade around the age of seven it seems. By the age of nine you’re down to a thinner group and the magazine subscription is no longer necessary. And then by age 11, it’s pretty safe to say you are all on your own. If you’re lucky, you have those mommy friends I mentioned and they’re just as real as you need them to be.
So what’s all this about really? The answer quite simple, it’s about being real and not wavering from that commitment.
We’re all trying to navigate the same large body of water. Some of us get hit by waves earlier than others, while some might be caught in the undertow. Either way, we are each trying to not drown and simply get the ones we love safely to shore.
Yet as they get older, problems, struggles, concerns, get perhaps more serious we shut down. This is the time we need community most. This is the time we need the wisdom of previous travelers in the most truest form.
Not long ago, I recall a conversation with another mom, who has younger children. As we spoke, I shared how I can recall the days of locking myself in the bathroom or my walk in closet for just five minutes of quiet and privacy. As I shared this through laughter and a bit of, you’ll get through it wisdom, her eyes grew big. “I do that,” was her reply, to which I said, most of us do; we just don’t talk about it – but we should.
There’s something empowering about knowing you’re not alone. Hearing the honesty of another person, face to face, not through a book or via a social media page that “gets honest,” but with a real life person.
Perhaps it’s the fear of judgement which causes one to hesitate or a feeling of incompetence.
Here’s the truth about all of it, in my unprofessional opinion. None of us know what we’re doing. Once they hit that beautiful tween stage, all bets are off. We aren’t parenting children like we were as kids. We are parenting children who have access to information in seconds, that we had to scour books to find. Their world looks so different from what ours did it’s almost unfathomable.
Some things, however, remain the same. When stripped of all of this and taken to the studs, they are learning humans just like us. They are going to try, test and fall just as we did. There is no book on how to do this right. There is no book on what works best, because it’s all quite simply a crap shoot.
One thing remains however – humanity. When we put down our walls, release our judgement, open our ears and simply lift one another up, we will come out all the better.
And yes, I still need that cocktail on occasion with my mommies. I’m still grateful each day, that as life goes by at warp speed I can drop a, “are you kidding me?” into our text stream and have it acknowledged and countered. Thank God for real, I don’t know that I could do this any other way.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.