Posted by: Kimberly Field | July 26, 2010

TUNED IN

Are you one of those many parents out there that are trying desperately to engage in your teenager’s lives?  Are you running ragged to accommodate these alien beings so you still feel there is still some connection between them and you.  Do you sometimes feel that they have invaded your home and hold a dictatorship over you (or act as if they do)?  Have you been hearing orders to drive them here and there?  Have you been changing meal times on a daily basis so you can get the whole family at the table together?  Have you been ignoring nasty comments and defiance of your house rules that normally would mean a ‘time out’ in earlier years?  Have your teenagers been showing signs of *rubber-neck syndrome every time you ask them to take out the garbage? If you are…you are not ‘tuned in’!  It’s not the teen you need to tune into, it’s you!  …or rather ME!!!
Last week I found myself completely zoned out.  At first I thought it was the humidity that made me feel lethargic.  Perhaps the summer sun was burning too harshly on my mood that I was bored of all summertime activities.  I considered that summer may not be that great of a season, until I realized that I wasn’t paying attention to ‘me’.  My offspring were sapping me of all my energy and using it for their evil purposes…as most teens do.  My problem was that I let them.  I had been so drained that I was parenting on autopilot and I was neglecting me.
So I set out to have a different week – and I did.  I set boundaries on what I was willing to do.  If they decided they weren’t going to be home for supper then I decided I wasn’t making any.  They would have to make a sandwich for themselves later as long as it was before 8:00pm because that’s when the kitchen closed.  If they needed clothes cleaned, I passed them the laundry basket and told them to get to it.  If they wanted a drive, then they were going to have to make a few pit stops along the way while I did errands.  If they had the urge to disrespect me they got privileges taken away.  At one point I had to sleep with a cell phone, laptop and an Ipod!  AND if they thought I was going to hang around waiting to tend on them, they got something quite the opposite.
Every move I made, I made with full consciousness.  My decisions were based on if my needs and wants were met.  I didn’t shrug any parental duties or responsibilities, however, I wasn’t about to get taken advantage of – not this week.
I gave myself nice long baths and facials.  I took care of little tasks that kept getting put off because I was too busy doing things for the rubber-necks.  I seemed to get more housework done, cook better meals and socialize more than I have in ages despite a longer work week.
I had great walks and terrific talks with a fabulous friend – thanks Ellen.  My sensational friend, Iris, invited me over for drinks on her back patio in the middle of the week (I normally would say no, but not this week) – thanks Iris for all the entertaining grown-up conversation.  I took my son for a swim at my friend’s house on the lake – thanks April and Jim, you guys are really great.  A delightful friend and I took a walk along the waterfront to a restaurant where we dined divinely – thanks Deborah.  I drove out-of-town to meet a friend I’ve been meaning to visit for years.  We lunched, caught up on years of gaps, she showed me her horses and invited me back with my kids – thanks Terry, I had a ball.  
It was a good week.  The summer is definitely picking up.  Paying attention to ‘me’ really had its rewards.  It reminded me that if I don’t respect my time, then how will anybody else.  I’m not sure if my kids noticed anything different other than being inconvenienced…but hopefully they will eventually. 
The lesson I’ve learned is that even though I might get off course sometimes, it doesn’t mean I have to stay there.  I just need to tune in to me in order to zone in to the kids.  Someone once said “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”.
My Mom said that they take after me when I was a teenager – thanks Mom?!  She also said that I turned out OK – I’m guessing so will my babies.  I’m counting on it.  No matter what, they are the most important people in my life and I love them – rubber necks and all!

*Rubber-neck syndrome: the loosely nodding or swaying of a teen’s head usually exhibited immediately after a parent makes a request or comment.  This condition expresses lack of interest and respect, also weak neck muscles.

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Responses

  1. Love it! A real-life topic with lots of humour! I can see you in this – well, somebody once said, write about what you know and this offers a glimpse into the world of the parent of teens. Keep writing! Oh, and BTW – keep pursuing that ‘me’ time. I know those rubber-neckers will be just fine!
    Terry

  2. Hey Kimberly, I knew it wouldn’t take you long to get things back in perspective.
    We all go through these years called the terrible “teenager” years.
    Glad to see you are taking time for yourself.
    Your mother was wrong though, you didn’t turn out just OK, you turned out GREAT.
    I am very lucky to have you as a friend.
    Keep on writing.
    April


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