Stuck in the Middle

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Also titled, Am I Raising Darth Vader?

When my  babies were little I would hear everyone say Don’t wish it away.  It will fly by.  It was good advice and I’m glad I took it.  When my oldest was one, I moved onto 70th Avenue and it was full of young kids and hilarious moms.  We raised our babies together and spent countless hours discussing parenting and even a few weekend hours discussing beer choices.  (Jon and I are way more sophisticated in this area)  In the summer we would disappear to Michigan, stuffing a few adults and a thousand kids into a tiny cabin and have a great time.

I joined a MOPS group at church and met some life long friends there.  I was encouraged and validated in my parenting choices.  It seemed like there were so many ways for an extrovert like me to get filled up.  It was a really great time.

Those days are over for me and sometimes I really miss them.  Mostly because, as many of you mammas know, the middle years can really stink.  Literally and figuratively.  My 4 middle and high school kids can’t all seem to remember to put on deodorant and brush their teeth EVERY day and showering is like an act of treason, so there is a lot of nasty smells around.  Couple that with the excessive amounts of hormones which makes at least one person around here moody at all times, and yes, it can definitely stink.

I found myself on a walk last week spending the entire time trying to figure out how long I could survive my current existence.  Ok, if I can hold on for two more years, how old will they be?  Emily will be a senior and driving.  She can help with the incessant car pooling.  Surely all of them will finally be able to do their homework themselves, right?  Brush their teeth?  Clean a toilet?  How about four years?  Can I survive at this pace for that long?

I just really thought they would have gotten down at least basic hygiene by now.  I sometimes feel like I am still parenting children and also nurturing mini adults at the same time.  It is seriously the WEIRDEST season of parenting I have yet to be in.

Last night my son said I refuse to do my homework alone.  I just won’t do it until you sit by me and cuddle.  

Super cute.  But he did NOT need my help.  He just wanted me to sit by him like a four year old.

Then this morning I said You don’t need to drink coffee every day before school.

His reply? Dad does.  I’m a getting older mom.  You need to just get a grip on that.  And he got out of the car without even saying goodbye.

I’m just so confused.  They are like young Jedi.  The force is strong within them, but you just don’t know if they will go to dark side or stay in the light.  Please young babies, stay in the light.  I’ve put a lot of time, love, and energy into you.  I would rather you not grow up into Darth Vader.  Sometimes I actually dream they do become Darth Vader.  But at night there is still a child or two that comes into my room to sleep on the floor, so it could just be all the additional breathing in there.

Here were my ultimate goals for my children when they were first born:

  1. Love Jesus  – Although the heart of another person is never for me to fully understand, I’m thinking 2 1/2 out of 5 are a guarantee for life right now.
  2. Be kind – This one is tough.  Some days I’m running at a 0.0%.  That’s failure my friends.  Other times they overwhelm me with their compassion and grace and love.  Perhaps this is because they are still on the balance between childhood, a time of utter selfishness, and adulthood, oh wait, another time of selfishness.  I got nothing.  I’ve started to write down the kind and nice things they do to remind myself that Darth is not the only outcome.  And I also focus more on what they do outside of my house, because I do think that most people would say they are nice kids when not confined to these 4 walls.  Maybe my house is like prison.  Go to jail innocent and leave a criminal.  Hmmm….
  3. Be a productive member of society – Still walking the fence on this one.  They are smart and do well in school.  In addition, they are discussing and planning careers and colleges. But they seem unable to carry their freaking plate from the table to the dishwasher.  Also, they literally act like they would starve to death if someone was not here to feed them.  I have tried to teach them to cook, but the boys have both said Nah.  I’ll just go from you cooking for me to my wife cooking for me.  Please forgive me future daughter in laws.  I did not condone this behavior in any way.

These middle years have just filled me with confusion and doubt.  Some days I feel like we’ve made it and other times I want to just throw in the towel.  Am I too old to just start over?

I’m guessing with all those hormones raging that they are just as confused as I am.  So if they have to endure, I suppose I will too.  My saving grace is that, when they are not fighting or complaining, they are just about the most hilarious 5 people I have ever had the privilege of doing time with.  Who knows, maybe Darth Vader had a secret sense of humor that was only shown to his most privileged storm troopers.

So mammas in the middle, hang in there with me and try not to wish it away, like I have been occasionally often known to do.  And while you’re at it, if you could help me through this season by telling me when you see my kids being awesome.  Oh, and also telling them their breath smells or they have B.O., so that maybe, just maybe, they can be adults without hygiene problems.