When I made my list of 2016 goals, I decided to
force convince my nearly thirteen-year-old daughter to make a list of her own. As she approaches the halfway mark of middle school, I have been steering our conversations more toward future plans in general, as well as the steps needed to get to each goal. Nothing overbearing (not to say that I don’t ever become THAT mom); but just a general bending of conversation in the direction of things I would like to accomplish and the steps we could take to get to them done. For example:
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have the craft room decluttered and organized, so we could actually have fun making more things. Perhaps if we just started with clearing out xyz…” or
“It would be nice if (Neighborhood Friend) could come over for more sleepovers. Of course, your room is a little too crowded and messy for that now. I think I know a way we could get it straightened up a little at a time without making it seem so bad.”
Okay. I know. I’m not that subtle. And YES, the craft room and her bedroom are still disaster areas. But you get the gist. Having a plan and executing it in small steps with frequent breaks could be so rewarding. Sounds like a good Life Lesson, right? Anyway, back to her list.
She grudgingly let me read it. I truly believe her hesitation was fear of my “corrections” more than an issue of privacy. (That just highlights two of the greatest skills and weaknesses of my parenting style in one fell swoop!) The list was numbered 1 through 12. All but one item referred to her closest friends and relationships at school. She had written an assortment of try to be a better friend to this boy, make this girlfriend see the error of her ways when dealing with boys, talk to these two more often, etc. With amusement, I noticed that the first two items were to (1) wait on a recent heartbreaker to come back and (2) give an old heartbreaker a second chance. Likewise, the last two resolutions were to (11) give up on the old heartbreaker “for good” and (12) give up on the recent heartbreaker. Both of these last two were followed, in parentheses, by “if needed.” After all, no one ever really wants to give up on love.
Ah, my tween has really been growing up! Not only was she focused on building and managing relationships of all sorts; she summed up, without realizing, the dilemma we all face when it comes to love and loss and hope and second chances. I am proud that she has become such a thoughtful young lady with a big, tender heart. And I am deeply saddened that she has stepped onto the (for some of us) never-ending Ferris Wheel of Love that will lift her up and bring her down for years to come. I wish I could work the controls and leave her at the top a little longer. Just long enough to savor the view and take the thrill with her when this particular ride is over. After all, no one ever wants to be stuck (even at the top of the ride) for too long. Real life happens back on the ground amidst the noise, lights, trash, clashing food smells and sawdust.
She has inspired me to take a new look at my own resolutions this year. I have never stopped planning to declutter, redecorate, organize and follow a budget/diet/exercise regimen. I am not giving up on those things now. But I am thinking more about rekindling friendships that have become distant and relationships that are taken for granted. Building and maintaining a rich social life need to be included in the budget and schedule, whether filed under food, entertainment, or health.
Once again, my daughter has colored my world just by letting me be her mom!
How has being a parent affected your goals? What do you prioritize in the budget or schedule that you didn’t think about before becoming a parent? Please comment below to add to the conversation!