When the mood swings of tweendom are hard to watch…

September 4, 2013 in friendships,homeschoooling

Giving myself a pep talk today…..,maybe you need one too.

mood swings of tweensFive 11-year-old girls. Every summer week for three years they gather in my familiar, if stained, living room, and soak in the safety and comfort of real friends. They laugh. They compete. They create. They fight. We talk scripture, bras, mean girls, love, icky brothers, and why brownies make better snacks than bananas. It is my joy and privilege that their families let me hang with their girls. And it is my prayer, that as long as they are willing, these friendships built in a safe, God-loving environment will blossom into a life-long perennial with deep roots.

In the beginning, only two of the girls went to the same school and my daughter, she used to be one of the pair. But now, there are three sweet girls, who are not my daughter, chatting about the change of middle school, the teachers they’ve heard of, the fears they hush away, and the excitement that probably kept them from sleeping Labor Day night.

Last school year, we pulled our girls out of public school to be homeschooled. The reasons are long and meandering but mostly they had to do with reclaiming our time as a family. I held my breath all year, waiting for the tears, the disappointment of missing out on field trips, friend time and recess. The newness of  reading while snuggling a guinea pig or while high in the boughs of a tree eclipsed those longings and the regret never showed up.

For the last weeks, I’ve watched my giggly girl slink into the corners of her mind-into a spot I cannot reach. A kiss and hug won’t reach this spot. Normally active and upbeat, she sometimes sit, staring into space looking forlorn. Sharp pangs of missing out  are clouding her eyes but she doesn’t want to share. She worries she will be forgotten. She stares at the floor when the girls bring up school. Glimpses of my Facebook page and her friends starting school silence her. She knows the cost of returning to school is to give up the time it takes to play soccer at this competitive level she loves more–for now.She doesn’t know about the loneliness of the middle school hall, or the hours of homework, or the way administrators always do what’s wrong in the eyes of a tween. All she knows is that she isn’t there and that means she is missing something.

Middle school, private school, home school. Loneliness is part of being 11 and 12 and 13 and motherhood. It’s an emotion women know well. And we all learn to cope in different ways.  Still, as a momma, it is hard to watch, hard not to Polyanna her with the good things of life.

It doesn’t matter where your girl goes to school, if she is in middle school, loneliness, frustration at missing out, confusion, friend drama. It will all find her.  Russell Baker says adolescence turns our kids from  “dear, sweet children into the same ornery people you meet everyday as you go through life. ” The road ahead for us tween parents is going to be bumpy and waiting for her to emerge from the burden of the emotions will take a new kind of patience. If our memories aren’t buried, we can remember the endurance this stage requires. And so we watch with empathy as our sweet, dear one struggles, trying to figure out who she will be for this day, week, month.

We can do this, mom. We can survive the swing from elated to puddle. We are redeemed and therefore, we can show grace, kindness, patience, fortitude, and steadfastness as she goes through anger, frustration, isolation, tears, giggle fits, and exhaustion. We can’t control her friends, but we can make sure she is never forgotten. It isn’t about always saying the perfect thing, because you won’t. It’s about love, and modeling how to handle disappointment and  pain, conviction and repentence. And if you need me, I will hold your hand when your sweet one turns into a pile of tears that you can’t stop or when she slams the door on your well-intentioned advice. Because that ornery person Baker mentioned? She will disappear some day, erased by the power of His love and your prayers.

Sharing today at a Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Crystal and Co.  and here

 

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda September 4, 2013 at 11:23 am

So true and so well-said.

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Pam September 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

This is wise and beautifully written. And familiar territory to many moms of girls. Wish I could give you a hug.

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pruningprincesses September 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm

I’m imagining the hug. Thank you.

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Adrian September 8, 2013 at 3:14 am

Middle school and high school can be brutal. My son has had a lot of problems with bullying. I’ve thought about homeschooling at times, but tried just one online class and we nearly killed each other. I just don’t think we could manage it.

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pruningprincesses September 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Oh Adrian, I pray your son’s problems with bullies will improve and that they will make him stronger (emotionally and mentally that is). LAst week was our first week back to homeschooling (this is our second year) and we almost killed each other. So I understand. I think I told my husband “I quit” at least twice. =)

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Tracey November 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Thank you for this wisdom! I have 12-year-old and 10-year-old daughters and this advice is much needed! We are in our 3rd year of homeschooling, but will likely send our 7th grader back to school next year. I know we will deal with this range of emotions no matter how we choose to educate them, and I pray for wisdom and grace to navigate these precious days in our daughters’ lives.

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