SOMEthing got me to thinking this morning about reflecting on the past year.
I remember mentioning awhile back that I'd be happy to see the end of 2011, and that I was looking forward to 2012.
In 2011, I learned a lot about teenagers and all their messiness. At first, I resisted the lesson.
It wasn't supposed to be like this, filled with jagged edges and rock faces to scale.. Looking back at my own teen years, I saw about 3 teaspoons of rebellious behavior in myself. (I actually think my parents would agree with this assessment, and the fact that I include that should prove my point.) So, having bypassed things like going to parties parents didn't know about, underaged drinking, and the sordid like, I was unprepared for some of the things teenagers do.
Took it all personally at first. "Where did we go wrong?" those sorts of questions. Angry I had spent YEARS homeschooling youngsters who still made decisions I disagreed with. Bewildered that we, as loving parents, as committed and happily married parents, as parents who listened and loved and taught and read out loud and drove kids places, and did all manner of Outstanding Parenting could have kids who wondered if they were really loved. Depressed that I had planned for smooth sailing in the teen years only to discover my three teenagers standing up in the boat, completely disregarding the life jackets I held out to them, perched on the gunwales rocking for all they were worth.
After Taking It Personally came the I AM WOMAN I CAN FIX IT stage. Hunker down, try harder, speak more persuasively, listen mo' better, give more, ask for less, hold their hearts and hands in mine, find outside help, grit my teeth REAL hard, click my heels, and BELIEVE. Short paragraph, but it seemed like that phase lasted forever.
There may have been other, just as effective, stages, but learning about the creature called "the teenager" and letting go of EITHER/OR thinking were the two experiences that transformed my reality.
Keep in mind I think my teens are wonderful, intelligent, thinking, caring, humorous, growing people. I love them forever, and I like them a lot (well, except for a few days back in February. And a few in March. And April. Maybe a couple in June). But before the big transformation in my understanding, I thought they were doing "it" wrong.
Since I didn't get the Teenagers Are Inexplicably Incomprehensible memo as a teen or as a parent of babies, toddlers, pre-teens and teenagers in the early honeymoon phase, I was continually taken by surprise, especially this year. It helped to read Bob Meehan's "Beyond the Yellow Brick Road," although I'm not sure what I think of him or his methods. I did think his book was helpful. Really helpful. It was the Teenagers Are Inexplicably Incomprehensible (AND THAT IS JUST FINE) memo I had missed. So I started embracing the ride, accepting it for what it was.
And it's been good. And it's been hard. And it's been fun. And I am so grateful for the teens who are in my home. They teach me things. Presumably I teach them things now and again. We laugh a lot and we have some pretty great talks. And I trust the process.
I am thankful for all of it. Now. It took awhile. Here's to you -- Valerie, Joel, Eli, and Anna-Jessie.
And even though this post is centered on the teenage portion of our show, I want to also thank Greg and Kepler for all the great things they bring to our family.