Monday, April 21, 2014

Raising Jackson: Love. Faith. And Words.

Sometimes all I have are my words. And lately, even these have failed me. When it rains, it pours, I guess.

I think the hardest thing about parenting is that we don't always have the answers. We can't always make it right. As much as we want to be the perfect parent. As much as we want the clarity to know exactly what to do or say, sometimes we just... fail. 

I think one of the things it is impossible to know unless you are a parent is that children are not "mini me's." They are people. Smaller, yes. But they are made with their own minds, their own hearts, their own ideals. A dear friend said to me the other night that when he was young, he had a very strong faith. Not just in God, but in life in general. When he hit the pre-teen and early teen years, he came to believe that nothing and no one could control him or his world, except for, well, him. And so, like many 14 year old boys he tried his best to control everything in it. And it wasn't until his mid twenties that he finally realized that there is actually very little we can control - the rest, well, it's not up to us. That's where the faith has to come back in.

So, as another friend says, I am tying knots and hanging on for dear life right now. Hoping upon hope that my son will come to that same realization. Eventually. Until then, I will love him from a place so deep inside, he can't even know. And I will pray. Because I have faith enough for both of us.

Have you ever felt so completely out of control that you weren't sure how to get by? I'll admit I am a bit of a control freak. It's difficult for me to let go. Not impossible. But difficult. It is a tight rope walk this parenting of young teens. I am tilting and tipping, arms spread wide trying desperately to find the balance between what I must control, and what is okay to let go. I've also been told many times - and I believe this - that when our kids are angry with us, it's a pretty sure sign we're doing a good job. This is not a time for being a "buddy" but a time for setting boundaries. 

But I digress. Lord knows it would be so much easier to just give in, to say "yes," to turn my head. I can't. And it's not because I need control. It's because I love him way too much. 

Jack and I are at a crossroads. He wants to go to the public high school next year, and I am adamant that he choose from among the private schools (I'm trying to give him some power here to make a choice, among approved options). My reasons why are many. And from years of experience, they are also sound. I know that this topic presents a heated debate - even among my dear friends. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but I've weighed them myself. I was educated in the Catholic school system (2nd - 12th grades). My kids have attended both private and public schools. And I can tell you that for me - without a doubt - the money is well worth it.

This isn't just about academics. This is about respect. Community. Faith. Parental involvement. Character building. Teacher communication. Student to teacher ratio. Discipline. Every family is different. But I will fight for what I believe is right (not in general mind you, because every child is different, every child requires and desires different things) but for what is right for my son. Right now. For Jack, this is about girls. And what's familiar. And girls (I know, I know... he presents one hell of an argument).

So, let's talk about it, you and I. Have you made any big decisions for yourself or your kid(s) for which you had to fight? Have you stood your ground despite everyone around you disagreeing, shaking their head "no," rolling their eyes even? It's an uncomfortable feeling to stand alone with just my heart and my gut to support me. It sure would be easier just to give in. I'll be honest: I'm tired. And my sweet Jack is as stubborn as they come. But here's something else: he comes by it honestly. And I know where he gets it. ; )

Take my hand and stand with me up here, won't you? Just for a moment? Let me know that you, too, have been there, done that. That it's all going to work out just like it's supposed to. I'm struggling with my own words right now - Would you lend me some of yours...?