I've never had any trouble with setting boundaries, saying no, doing what's best even in the face of tears and tantrums. I'm okay with not being my kid's friend. I'm secure in my position as parent.
That sounds firm, right?!
And yet, we are wading straight through this twilight zone known as the tween years and all of a sudden I'm not so sure about everything. (Anything?!)
I didn't realize...
- Hurtful words coming from a 3 year old are just...toddler speak. Hurtful words coming from a nearing adult...can actually hurt.
- The growing need for this tween to be more independent is normal, understood, and completely expected. Yet, this growing independence...creates a vacancy that is felt way beyond the dinner table.
- And this one is hard for me to admit: I didn't realize how utterly unprepared I feel for this new stage. Where is the learning curve? Where is the intuitive instinct that tells me just what to say? Or do? Or not say? Or not do? I kid you not, sometimes I stand there and hear crickets chirping up in my brain as I strain to think of how to react in a way that will help bring reason back to a person who used to be quite predictable.
But I do know The Answer. Personally and intimately, and after crying out with frustration one morning I heard that soft, sweet whisper of the Holy Spirit remind me that "if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)
A light bulb went on inside my brain. Illuminating all those crickets. When I was pregnant I read books and asked questions and sought knowledge. When I was raising a baby, then two, three, and four babies and toddlers I had done the same...seeking out wisdom from books and people who were intimate with The Answer and The Teacher. And yet, I hadn't applied this same earnestness to this next stage I was finding myself in.
And so I set out to seek out wisdom from those who've gone before, asking questions from older and wiser moms, reading books from trusted Biblical sources, and crying out every day for inspired wisdom to walk through these tween (and upcoming teen) years with joy. And sanity. Please, let me preserve some sanity.
This tween parenting thing, it is HARD work. (Makes me miss the potty training days...)
But (I'm learning) that hard doesn't mean it's not without hope.
That sweet three year old who loved catching butterflies and frogs and reading and chocolate milk. She's still there. Just bigger. She's not morphing into some person I don't recognize, but growing into those same gifts and passions she had as a tiny person.