Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not My Problem

I have a problem. A big problem. And I'll tell you what my problem is: I can hardly tell the difference between what is my problem, and what is not.

The problem shows up in all my relationships, but nowhere more so than with my children. Yesterday I spent all day, ALL day, doing the laundry, errands, phone calls, e-mails etc... necessary to get my perfectly capable 16-year-old ready for high school (which starts today for her). I had three e-mail exchanges with her math teacher to determine if the calculator she already has, will, in fact, suffice for this year. I cleared up a problem with Powell's Bookstore, found the books I'd ordered on-line two weeks ago and requested be shipped to a nearby location, and drove to that "nearby" location to get her entire year's worth of American Literature reading material. She suddenly remembered that she missed the day when you get your locker assignment (we were out of town) and so we reshuffled the entire day to make that work yesterday.

Went on a walk with Nancy last night and I asked, "How do other parents do it? Especially those that work? Especially those with a bunch of children? How do they get it all done?"

Of course that is the answer, they don't get it all done. The world would probably still spin if Woohoo went to high school with the wrong calculator on the first day. She could probably squeak through Am. Lit. with only the book she needs for the first 5 weeks, and then manage to get the other ones eventually. She could probably order a book on-line all by herself. She could probably manage the complexities of a washer and dryer and do her own damn laundry.

Part of my defense is that I have Rojo who cannot fend for himself, whose every need is my problem. Part of it is habit. Sixteen years is a long time to do things one way, and it's hard to adjust my parenting according to her ever-developing independence, even though I know that's what's best for both of us. Part of is is sheer practicality. I know that Rojo needs to eat his Trader Joe's spinach pizza AT 5:00 PM each and every day. I know that it takes our oven 20 minutes to heat up to 425 degrees. I know that if I'm not in my kitchen by 4:15 every afternoon, his pizza will not be cooked, cut, and cooled BY 5:00. And then, my friends, we have a problem. I know that it will not work to pick Woohoo up from school at 3:30 this week, and then learn that she needs such-and-such by tomorrow. There is no wiggle room. There is not we'll-just-run-by-and-get-that-now time.

In two years my daughter will be off to college. TWO years! 24 months! I am committed to turning the reins over to her in a deliberate and careful manner between now and then.

Starting tomorrow. Right now I have to go make her bed.


Anonymous said...

It's hard this letting go. I think the hardest part is trusting that we did a good enough job parenting them. And then there is the problem of watching them fail and fall on their faces, making the same mistakes that we did when we were their age. It will happen though.

Laundry is always a good place to start:)

kario said...

You are too funny! (I have to go make her bed).

It is hard to start letting go by giving them more independence. Especially when it's the kind of independence they don't want (doing their own laundry versus going to the movies with girlfriends alone). Good luck giving her more to do with her own life. I hope it fits in with your 'selfish' plan this year and affords you tons more time to do what you truly love.

Love you.

jill said...

i love how you write.

Amber said...

Hellloooo sister.

I laugh because I am so much in this boat. And you know what? Thank god for people like us, or the world would be a friggin MESS. It would.Can you imagine?! Ha!

The problem is, THE PROBLEM IS-- we are here to both take care, AND learn to let go. It is your gift that you came in knowing how to take care. A gift. You have that lesson down... Now you need to learn the let go a little lesson. (me too. I feel ya). Not all the way, just enough to let others do what they can for themselves, so they can learn what they need to.

But it is hard when you do it all so well. And right. I know. Because things really should be done our way. It would just be best for everyone.
No, I mean that.



Elizabeth said...

I love the organizing part of motherhood, and I'm good at it, but I also know the importance of fostering some sense of independence. It takes a bit of willpower to "allow" your children to do things for themselves -- and that control thing is difficult to "control!"

Leslie at SugarAndSpiceADK. said...

I am in shock that you actually have to BUY Woohoo's books--didn't think that happened until college. But then again, our kiddo did public school. Maybe when Woohoo starts driving, it will ease up on you a little? love you!

Anonymous said...

For me the hardest part has been showing D how to do something, and then accepting that he doesn't do it exactly the way I would :). That letting go of control is not easy!

On the other hand, it's remarkably liberating. I'm really enjoying not having to be so responsible.

So, I say, go for it!

Wanda said...

Anyone who ever said that "natural development" was easy was wrong. Just because it is time, doesn't mean we know how to do it...yet. Congratulations. And good luck!

Deb Shucka said...

Awareness is half the battle, right? :-)

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Oh, yeah. The boys are doing their own laundry this year. Of course, it will take me six months to teach them to do it. xo

Anonymous said...

"Part of my defense is that I have Rojo who cannot fend for himself, whose every need is my problem. Part of it is habit." Oh, I get this.

(And I love your last line).

jess said...

could you come make mine too?

Ask Me Anything said...

HAH! This is hysterical--and so the opposite of my experience. (I think that's why my daughter has become YOU)
...And the pendulum will continue to swing.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Gotta be done. Don't wanna rope 'em to ya forever. :)

Lola said...

Ha Ha! That last line made me laugh!
I do for my children too-still-because I can-and probably because so much of it wasn't done for me-even when it should have been---and so i compensate for my own feelings at the time-----it's worked out well BUT MY little guy (going for 6ft 5 and just turned 16) will go to University (college and university are different in Canada) next year! And a year younger, but only in chronological age, than his peers. I do the laundry-it's JUST easier. I make his lunch-i LIKE to. I shop for him-he LIKES me to. But we are preparing-he can now make scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, raman noodles and kraft dinner which is more than a lot of 17 year old kids at college! So, we are getting there...AND he is going away to school-for us and for him, it's a big part of the experience of getting ready to navigate the world on his own. BUT he's not going too far. I need to know that I can go and do his laundry and bring him care packages and take him to lunch and it's not because I have to or need to. No, it's because I want to!
I am letting go in tiny bits and starts!

Laura said...

oh, this is so familiar. My girls are 13 and 16. in the last year and a half since MS entered our lives (via me) they have had to take on more...but still I find myself falling into our old routines when I'm having a good day or a string of them...next thing I know, they too are slipping back into familiar patterns...what they don't realize is that even if I didn't have ms...they'd still have to be doing more now...they need to learn to care for themselves and for others...it's time.

Sorry Not Sorry

I'm sorry I keep pointing you towards Brené Brown's podcast,  Unlocking Us , but I'm not that  sorry.* I've appreciated ever...