Back To School is here, and weepy-anxious moms everywhere want to bury their heads in the sand of a faraway beach.
I’ve artfully dodged the school supply aisle at Target for six weeks now because I wasn’t prepared to face the emotions stirred up by notebooks and binders and the smell of Elmer’s glue. (Nobody wants to cry in the middle of Target.)
If this is a sign of emotional instability, go ahead and call me crazy because you have a 90% chance of being right. I mean sure I get partial sanity back during the school year and all. But who needs sanity anyway?
The thing is…Back To School means another calendar year of childhood is about to slip away, and of course I tend to be a little dramatic about such things. I am totally that mom who swipes tears throughout every annual awards ceremony, and I may or may not have cried that time I realized my Baby Gap shopping days were over.
And now, Luke will be in 5th grade which is the end of elementary school forever and probably of life as we know it. For crying out loud, the teen years are just around the corner, and we all know that’s where the sweetness of childhood goes to die.
(I may need to get a grip or something.)
(The good thing is that I’m aware of it.)
For real, though, I’ve recently noticed how I ferociously resist the passing of time as though I can somehow bully up my fists in the face of growth and change and dare them to come after me.
I am a mother on a mission, determined not to let time win because when time wins, my baby’s childhood will slip through my fingers. And for the sake of motherhood control, I cannot let that happen because life and all it’s parts are mine to control. And since I gave birth to this child, his life falls into the Mine to Control Forever folder.
When did we start to believe that a child’s growth is a mother’s loss? You know what I mean? It’s sort of like this can’t be good because it hurts, and hey, let’s not rock the boat or anything because I like my life just fine the way it is.
This mentality will kill a mother, because newsflash: time doesn’t stop and change happens, whether we like it or not.
And frankly, I’m not all that interested in having a 28 year old Luke living under my roof, so perhaps it’s time to get a jump on this. (My reasonable and logical husband is thrilled I’ve finally come to this conclusion.)
I can either approach the next 8 years with a foreboding dread of the inevitable high school graduation, or I can decide to actually live these next few years.
That is a real life choice we all have, y’all. (Who knew?!)
When you and I have an anxious outlook on life, everything is impending doom. We dread this and that, and Every New Thing freaks us the heck out so we fight it with every ounce of energy we’ve got. (No wonder most of us Anxious Moms are also the tired, worn-out kind.)
My own anxious determination to hold on to childhood comes from a fear that I’ve failed motherhood. Because the parenting learning curve was much steeper than I expected, and I’ve pretty much messed him up beyond hope, so I need the clock to slow down while I catch up. (That, or I need a whole lot of grace because seriously.)
Regardless of how we got here, the anxious life is full of whiny what-if’s:
What if I lost the prime years where he’s most prone to listen to his parents? What if he does drugs, or joins a gang, or ends up in some sort of juvenile military thing?
What if he’s kidnapped, or gets in a fistfight, and I’m not there to beat the snot out of the other kid? What if he gets caught up with the wrong crowd and does really stupid things, and it’s so bad that we can’t bail him out?
What if he lies and doesn’t get caught?
What if it’s true that I cannot keep my son tucked inside a protective bubble wrap box forever? (Oh, hello Psycho Mom, haven’t we met before?)
There’s basically no room to deny that it’s high time we switch up the mental scenery around here. Because this worry-all-the-time-about-all-the-things mindset is so uncool.
So…What if we chose to see Back to School and Growth and Change as opportunities for our kids to grow up?
What if we loosened our worry-filled grip? What if our kids had to actually suffer consequences (gasp!) and learn from their mistakes while they live under our roof?
What if we could hope they screw up a little, since perfectly compliant children tend to end up as adults with high therapy bills? (Not that I know from personal experience.)
I mean OH MY WORD What if we raised our kids to be able to handle adulthood when they get there? Because it would be so fantastic if the kids were off the payroll by the time they’re 40.
What if the only way to love them well is to let them grow up?
Nothing in life was meant to stay the same forever. Life requires growth. (The only alternative is death and that’s exactly the opposite of what we want.)
So I hereby officially declare that Back To School will longer symbolize the loss of a passing childhood in this household.
It will now be that season where we expectantly look for the potential good that growth holds. Because growing up is a very good thing.
(And football is good, which also happens in the fall.) So there’s that.
Your Ex-Weepy Mom Friend
p.s. this new *worry-less* approach has also been successful for moms who are afraid of such things like the Zika virus and terrorists.
Join us on the bleachers!
This is where you sign up for your own special seat on the bleachers.
You'll get every new blog post hand-delivered to your inbox, and you'll also get the *cool, free stuff* reserved only for subscribers.
(It's sort of like VIP, club-level tickets.) (Except totally free.)