I had a mini-parenting crisis this morning. Mini-crises of any kind are always accompanied by tears. And I just looked up at the sky, tears streaming, literally streaming, down my face, wishing someone (preferably my mom) would wipe them away and tell me that it was all going to be ok. When I was behind a car a little later on and the license plate literally said "ITS OK", I was like "uh-huh", but then a mini-theology debate broke out after barre and I couldn't remember anything I've learned from Timothy Keller and I also had never heard that Noah (you know, from the ark) was a virgin birth (which I was like where the heck does it say THAT?) and I've read the bible like four times and I was back to my same old fish mouth. Open. Close. Open. Close. Open.
Perhaps wishing for my mom was part of my issue this morning, because it only made me that much more emotional.
I don't get emotional very often. (It's called a defense mechanism.) When I do, I typically attribute my emotional state to a certain time of the month, and interestingly enough, they often coincide. Although, I typically find myself in a PO'd kind of mood, not weepy, but anyways, this morning was a weepy crisis kind of morning. It is on a morning like this that I like to listen to sad songs, because it adds to the ambiance.
Did you know that my children would rather go outside than do homework? I am hoping this is a syndrome that afflicts more than just my two. Homework isn't necessarily the issue, although they don't really like to do it. It's preparing and studying. They are like evil words in my house, and when I say them, I immediately get side-eye and frowns. So this morning, during a discussion with Jon over said homework and lack of preparation and lack of studying leading to a less-than-desirable outcome on several tests and quizzes, my mind immediately went from "171 out of 300 possible points" to "PARENT FAIL", and so I laid down and wished nothing existed because I had failed.
I've been known to be a touch dramatic on occasion.
So I called my friend because I know she can relate and let the words just gush out. "I can't do it" and "I'm not good at this" and "overwhelmed" and "my fault" and "I'm not doing a good job" and "failed" just tumbled out of my troubled heart. This is the point when I knew that whether I knew it in my head or not, my heart had been feeling this way for a long time. Scared of messing up and not guiding my kids in the right direction. Fearful of looking like I am not handling my situation well.
Part of me was like "this is changing TODAY" but the other part of me was like "I don't even know what "this" is so how can I change anything" and then a small, insecure part of me was like "I don't remember anything anyway so even if I tried to change the "this", which I don't even know what it is, I would forget that I've changed it and therefore nothing would change", which is a lot to even try to process.
After the tears part of the conversation had passed, and my emotional footing seemed a little more stable, my friend gave me a few pointers to process and try to implement.
1. Set a goal. Decide what you need to change and how you will do it.
2. Write it down.
3. Take baby steps. Trying to change anything all at one time is an overwhelming, often difficult task that can and should be broken down into doable steps. Take advantage of technology and put reminders like "check homework" or "check in online" in phones and tablets so that you can stay on track.
4. Kids need to take responsibility, too, and set expectations for them. "I expect you to tell me when you have a test so we can study together", etc.
5. Have firm rules set in place, and set a routine. This season is hard for us, because both my kids play spring sports, which means we are constantly off and running. This also means that I let homework and studying slide. Rules like "you cannot play with your friends/on your iPod/video games/etc until your homework and your studying is done and we have gone over it" are difficult to start but beneficial in the long run.
6. Have check-in points. Our school year is divided into four 9-week sections, so about every four weeks or so, we get a midterm grade. We also have access to grades and details of assignments online (this is where reminders are helpful as I often forget to check online).
7. Have consequences if expectations are not being met. Most kids have something they really love, and when you find out what that something is, you have found your leverage. Don't be afraid to take it away. Kids usually work well with parameters and rules in place, but do expect them to balk like it's nobody's business.
Most of this might be common parenting sense, but sometimes its nice to just have to have it written out so you can reference it when mini-crises arise. And they will.
It's funny, as I look at the time, and realize how much time passes by without me noticing because I'm caught up and distracted by other things. It's funny because as I'm writing this, I'm realizing that my kids are off and playing and distracted and I haven't looked at a single assignment or book with either of them, and once again, I feel that familiar anxiety of "I should be doing better" coming on. But we are not in this alone, although sometimes it may feel that way. God has a plan for me, and you, and, thank goodness, our kids, and my white-knuckle grip on the wheel isn't necessary. I can relax and still get the job done.
I got this.