I have two kids. They are completely totally different children...well, teens. They always have been. One very dark and the other very sunny, historically. Although as they age, this distinction blurs and fades. And each of them becoming more of what they once lacked.
Mothering is hard. Hard to do, hard to survive, hard to show up every day to a job that sometimes feels like that of an unwitting warden, instead of loving parent. Deciphering half truths, navigating bold face lies, worrying about where they are, and if they are really even there. It is a lot. And the asks are endless but so are the rewards. It just seems as they move through this time in their lives that the asks are unrelenting and the rewards more spaced out.
I think the hardest thing for me about the asks is that I am never really sure how to answer. I tend to give in, give them what they want. Partly because it is easier, mostly because I want them to be happy and get what they want. I had children because I wanted to be a mom and I wanted to be a positive force for good in their lives. I wanted to give and show up and parent. I wanted to give them the best life that I could. I wanted to be the foundational spring for their happiness. I can see the error of my thinking now...seventeen years in.
Mothering asks are many and sometimes they are beyond what I feel capable...in fact, the older they get the more I feel this way. They ask for things that I do not have to give: money, time, patience, tolerance, faith. When they were little, they were content with snuggling in my bed with me watching cartoons and eating cereal. That doesn’t really cut it anymore and every time they leave, I worry what might befall them as they navigate the world without my watchful eye.
What I have learned is this is just motherhood. The asks are not separate and apart. They are part and parcel to the job of being a mother, a parent. Loving beings who vex you and lie to you and willfully defy your every direction is part of mothering teens. And the prayer I pray every day is that I did enough of the early stuff, the foundational parenting that will assist them as they begin to navigate this world alone. That they remember that I was there in the beginning and remain here today. That I am always a source of support and unconditional love. That they know that I have their backs even when I totally disagree about what they are doing, how they are behaving and the consequences they are inviting into their lives and mine.
I didn’t know the mothering asks would be so great. I didn’t know that I would not get to live with my son for his last two years of high school. I didn’t know that I would miss his homecoming and prom and learning to drive. I didn’t know that I would be asked to sit those things out. And I guess I am glad that I didn’t know. No sense knowing and anticipating the pain of being parent sidelined.
And I didn’t know that being here for my daughter as she walks through all of these things only two years behind him would require so much daily heavy lifting. I am grateful that I was here when she bought her first car. I am grateful I got to teach her to drive. I am grateful I am here every day for all the ups and all the downs. But I didn’t know what the asks would be and I didn’t know how hard it would be to answer those calls every day.
Mothering asks are never ending. And, for the most part, I am grateful for that. I guess that is what motherhood really is, constant opportunities to show up and answer the call and a growing confirmation that you are glad that you signed up for this often thankless and heart rendering call. The asks are truly endless because the job is endless. Mothering is forever and I guess, after all is said and done, I wouldn’t have it any other way.