The new school year begins today. I know my kids will be asked to set goals for the year: goals as students, specific class goals, sports goals, academic activity goals, etc. As their mom, I will try to help them achieve their goals by supporting them in various ways while also encouraging their gradual independence.
But what about my goals for the new school year?
Yup, I’m talking about my goals as a parent. Calendar years mean little when you’re a parent; December 31 is just an excuse to party (or, more likely, try to party but not make it to midnight). When you have kids in school, the academic year is the one that counts. So I’d like to set a few personal, parental goals as the school year begins:
- Surviving the first months of THE TEENAGER. This year, my son “Jack” will turn thirteen. It’s no secret that I have long feared this stage of development in my children. There’s the split-personality moodiness, the overall crankiness, the disdain for the existence of parents, the meanness of other teens toward my own kids, the possibility that my kids may be mean toward others, the cliques, the slammed doors, the limitless potential for serious trouble, the possibility that there might be serious trouble and I won’t know anything about it… I could keep going. (And believe me, I do keep going in my brain at night.) My own teenage years were less than spectacular–actually, there’s no reward in the world that could entice me to repeat them–and my biggest hurdle will be not projecting my own experience onto my kids as I shepherd them through this next stage of life. Good luck to us all. If you need me, I’ll be quaking in the corner.
- Allowing my son to attend his first school dances without embarrassing him such that he joins the Witness Protection Program and doesn’t even tell me. Because, come on, how cute? They’re going to dances this year! I already asked if I could be one of the parent chaperones, and Jack said “no” faster than I’ve ever heard him answer any question in his life. As I mentioned above, I remember my teenage years all too clearly. So I don’t want to ruin this for him. But a few photos couldn’t hurt, right? Maybe a hug in front of his friends?
- Pulling off a successful bar mitzvah without turning into the Jewish-mother equivalent of Bridezilla. This one I think I’ve got. There were enough over-the-top moments leading up to my and my husband’s wedding that I believe I learned my lesson for a lifetime. It’s a celebration for a thirteen-year-old. Read from the Torah, nosh, dance the hora. L’Chaim. Do not lose your head.
- Navigating the next part of the adoption journey with “Emmie.”
Emmie has matured emotionally far more than a year’s worth over the past twelve months. Now nine, she’s begun to examine the world and her place in it from a new perspective. The words we’ve used with her since her infancy hold new and more complex meaning for her, and she’s realized that not only did her life begin with a story prior to her becoming our daughter, but that that story contains realities of pain, loss and feelings of rejection that we can’t fix. It’s a heavy load for a nine-year-old, and we all have something to learn about what burden we can share with her and what, ultimately, she is going to have come to terms with on her own. There are a lot of hugs involved.
- Keeping my kids from becoming anti-social, bug-eyed zombies who can only communicate with other humans via electronic media. See my last post.
- Going on a date with my husband and just paying for the date. Yippee, the day is finally here! We won’t go far, we won’t stay out too late, and my hand will possibly be on my phone the whole time. BUT, we have arrived at the point when we can go to dinner locally or to an early movie and let our son babysit our daughter. HALLELUJAH!
- Complaining less, role-modeling problem-solving more and making sure my kids see that even though we have a lot going on, it’s important to stop and take time to have fun and appreciate what we have. Sometimes I hear my own negative traits coming right back at me from the mouths of my kids. Ick. There’s no one to blame but myself here, and no one can change that but me.
- Getting the kids to take on a little more responsibility around the house. Continuing what we’ve started, because they’re old enough and need to learn. We’re implementing this point in increments. The kids don’t even realize it. Shh; don’t tell them.
- Making a point of letting my kids see me working toward my goals that are unrelated to parenting, both because it’s important for me to set an example and because I want my kids need to see me as a human being who has concerns and interests beyond my kids.
- Appreciating my kids if not every day, then as much as possible. Because they’re great people, I love being around them, and someday they’re going to grow up and move out. And then I know I’m going to miss the hell out of them.