Monday, January 27, 2014

all thumbs

This has been a tough year.

Illness, bitter cold, husband out of the country for two weeks...and here we are at the end of January.

Isaac turned 7 years old last month, and I, 35.  In just a few short weeks, Ethan will turn 10.  TEN.  As in, years he's been alive--as in, years since I have been an official mom.  That has thrown me for a loop more than my 10 year wedding anniversary.  For some reason, I feel older.  Not wiser...just...all thumbs.

Some of you reading this have had a 10 year old before.  You've experienced this slow-motion sensation of watching your children as babies and then, as you are confidently walking with the parenthood remote control in your grasp, you trip, press fast forward, and drop the remote completely. And when you look up, you see kids who are eager for space, needy for private time, are almost as tall as you, who can match you with wit and humor, who can hold intelligent debates with you, have inside jokes with their friends, and sadly...the rewind button never works.

"Still," you say, "your boys aren't THAT old."  You're absolutely right.  But it's in this place of limbo, knowing I will soon be dealing with the greater unknown...the years where mom isn't as special, maybe a little more taken for granted even then when they couldn't say "thank you" or give me a random hug...and that makes me a little sad.

I don't want to dwell here.  I want to soak up all the lovely moments and file them away in my thoughts, able to pull them out as I go through uncharted territory with my growing sons.  So, I have been reading a wonderful book that has been giving me encouragement.  In the book, the authors give boys' ages a sort of theme based on their physical, mental, social, and spiritual growth--right now, Isaac is a "lover" and Ethan an "individual."  These are a few of the words used to describe boys at these stages:  The lover:  tenderness, obedience, attachment to Dad, and competitiveness.  The individual:  searching, evolving, experimenting, and criticizing.  Of course, these are just suggestions since no boy is alike, but, truthfully, it's spot on for us. And I gulped and turned the page...

The chapters I forced myself to read about the years ahead and what to possibly expect caused me to say things like, "oh no..." and "God, help me" under my breath.  Seriously, guys.  I was a blubbering mess.

I know not to be afraid.  If being a parent has taught me one thing, it's to know that I can do my best, but sometimes, that won't be enough. I need to take deep breaths, like I'm diving underwater. I need to be open and honest with my boys, setting examples of grace that will carry us through those tough relational times.  I have to remember not to take things so personally, but to command respect and authority in love.  It all sounds so hard and far away and like a dream.  But, one day, boys turn into young men.  I want to be alert, wise, and aware.  I want to be mom so I can learn to be a friend.

For now, I will keep building forts, having wrestling matches, making jokes about bodily functions...hugging and kissing them when they are hurt, making countless snacks, cheering for them, reading them stories, and helping them understand the world...and teaching my boys that it's okay to be all thumbs.