Dec 4, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane: Working Mom & 3 Tweens

I can't even remember the last book I read for pleasure. Time to exercise is almost nil. My kids are eating on the go almost nightly because I don't have time to cook. My house....well, at least the laundry is kept up somewhat because we need to wear clothes!

But as busy as I am (as we are as a family) I can't really say I have complaints. Look at the beauty of it all:

My babies are all growing up!

My kids are getting BIG. Each night, my 12 year old son gives me a hug goodnight and stands on his tiptoes so that we are eye to eye. I am just over 5'9", and he is just over 5'4" in 7th grade. Each night, I stare in amazement into his eyes, remembering that not very long ago he fit in the crook of my arm.  We argue about chores, homework, and his lack of ability to remember anything unless it is attached to his body (he would forget his head if it wasn't attached, I swear!) When I can, I watch him play basketball (7 practices and 2-4 games/week) but mostly I drive him to his stuff and pick him up again. When I drop him off, he walks off towards a group of friends from junior high school that I don't know. He interacts with them in a way that is new to me. His age won't reflect it for a few more months, but he truly is a teenager now--from his pimple-dotted nose to his rolling eyes. But he is still my baby, and those nightly hugs when he looks at me, eye to eye, remind us both of what it was like when his favorite things were Blue's Clues and collecting rocks.

My middle daughter is going to be 11 this month. She is in a phase I remember well--the beginning of puberty. She is struggling to feel comfortable with her changing body and experimenting with how she looks. She wants to hide her new femininity by wearing baggy tee shirts, but experiment with it by trying new hair styles. She worries a lot (she always has) but the things she worries about have changed a little. She worries about big picture things more--like saving humanity from _____________ (fill in the blank with your favorite plague.) She started a school bakery--which means whenever we have "free" time on weekends, we are baking. She sells the products after school to her classmates and teachers, then donating the proceeds to our Parent Teacher Organization. Though she is selling sweets, she specified that she wants the funds from the bakery to be limited to the purchase of P.E. equipment. How proud am I? Very. She has an amazing heart, loves sweets, and knows how to balance out that love of sweets by exercising! She also played volleyball for the first time this year, starts basketball in a few weeks, takes tap dancing, hip hop and acting classes, got a part in a play that will be performed in January, AND started playing the trombone. When I am not driving her brother to his stuff, I am driving her to her stuff--classes, practices, rehearsals every single day. Yes, you can call me "Taxi Mom."

My youngest daughter will turn 9 just after the New Year. Much to her older sister's chagrin, she is about to pass her up, height-wise. The most frequent feedback I get about my youngest is this: "She TOWERS over EVERYONE!" Yes, she does. She is literally head and shoulders above the rest of her class, and there is only one boy taller in the grade above her. Yet, despite her height she is still just a third grader. Lately she seems to have regressed to the maturity level of a toddler. Veruca Salt comes to mind--"I want the world, I want the whole world! Don't care how...I want it now!" (Check out the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory video here.)  When my daughter doesn't get what she wants, she throws herself into a tizzy of crying, screaming, and carrying on that really takes me back in time to the toddler years. It is a classic case of tween terror: "I'm getting so big and grown up that I need to regress for a while to the comfort of being little."  She has these fits pretty regularly and I have to send her to her room, ignore her for a while to let her know that I'm not falling for the theatrics, and she can't have what she wants (chocolate at bed time, a cell phone of her own, whatever other inappropriate for an-almost-9-year-old demand that she is making at the moment.) Every 5 minutes or so, I go to her room and remind her that if she keeps crying she will make herself sick. She sniffles some snot and then wails a little louder. I walk away until another 5 minutes have passed. (Any behavior focused teachers out there will recognize this as "neutral prompting"--teaching is an awful lot like parenting!)  Eventually, she comes to the realization that I am not going to give in and she walks out of her room like nothing ever happened. She carries on with her life, and then clings to me all night long. She is wandering out in life: playing basketball on a club team twice a week, taking dance, acting and singing classes, participating in a garden club and a Girl Scout troop...but when she gets home she needs to cuddle in close. Venturing out into the world can be scary business! She really reminds me of a toddler--you know that stage where they learn to walk and can get away from Mama, but when they get too far they come running back to hug your legs, feel safe again.

They are busy. And I am still working at my new job, learning things, and getting to know the system. These are crazy times, but I love it all. Life is good!


  1. It's bittersweet to watch our babies grow, isn't it? Then they leave and all we're left with are memories and occasional visits after they start their own families. Your children are beautiful and unique which is what makes them special. You are amazing. Honestly don't know how you do all that you do between home, work and activities. I think that at some point the frenetic pace because the new normal, where anything less hectic would seem strange. ... Hey, I didn't know you were that tall! I'm a shorty. :-)

  2. Hey shorty ;-) Thanks for stopping by. I've been thinking about you! I also wondered what I would do if life wasn't all go go go from 5:00AM - 9:00PM and decided that it would be tragically boring. But some day it will slow down and I'll be an empty nester, looking for something to fill the void. It definitely is bittersweet...

  3. Thank you for sharing your Christmas tree experience growing up! lol I'd lose it. Have a great day, Jen, and hugs to you.

  4. Whew! You are busy! Kudos to you! Your kids are growing leaps and bounds and you have every right to be a proud mom! You should be. I loved hearing about all the activities they are involved in and how unique and special each one is. Sending you a hug!

  5. Hi Tara! Hugs to you, amiga! I have missed you and our Familia! Thanks so much for stopping by. <3


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