When all the things feel like big things

If you read my last blog post about visiting colleges, you might have gotten the impression that I have been winning at parenting. In fact, I even felt that way for about 2.5 minutes.
Then, I woke up Tuesday morning.
I suddenly remembered that prom was on Saturday.
I mean, I knew it was Saturday. I have been carefully monitoring the weather everyday to plan out my son’s prom photo shoot. I’ve been asking him about the color of his date’s dress. And I’ve been thinking about poses for the photos.
But somehow, in the midst of all of that, I realized that I completely forgot to get him something to wear. I’m not kidding. Prom is literally five days away, and we had not rented a tux.
Later that afternoon, I suddenly remembered that I had not filed our taxes. Thankfully, Tax Day was April 17 this year, rather than April 15, because I had completed our tax return, but never clicked the button to file.
A few hours later, I was giving my daughter a ride to her tumbling class, and she mentioned that she only has a few weeks left of junior high. What?!? How did I forget that my daughter is GRADUATING FROM EIGHTH GRADE?!?
This has been the escalation of my life lately. As the mom of four kids who tries to juggle a busy work life with coordinating everyone’s schedule, I’ve always had a lot to keep track of. But these days, I feel like most of the things I’m assigned to remember are significant.
My mental to do list is filled with things like:

  • Don’t forget to apply for college.
  • Research college scholarship opportunities.
  • Apply for financial aid.
  • Pay fees for second born to play on the high school baseball team.
  • Sign up for the 8th grade trip to Springfield.
  • Get daughter a dress for the 8th grade formal.
  • Make sure your daughter doesn’t miss try-outs for high school cheer.
  • Go to high school athletic night.

I can no longer afford to forget any of the things. It’s not like back in the days when I would let my child wear the same outfit several days in a row or mess up the carpooling schedule or miss T-ball practice. These days, all of the things feel like they have major consequences if I screw them up.
And it’s not just the to-do list. It’s all of the conversations. The issues that can’t be avoided. All of the things we need to discuss feel big and important.
Have I talked to them enough about drugs, alcohol and vaping?
Do I need to check in with a discussion about cutting and other forms of self-destructive behavior?
Then there’s high school dating, which brings up a ton of opportunities for conversations that can’t be avoided.
Not to even mention their spiritual lives. Is it even possible to properly explain God’s grace and love for them? Have I done all I can to help them understand the things that really matter?
In the end, you know you can’t monitor their every move anymore. Once they can drive, you can make rules and set standards for your home. You can ask them to keep doors open and lights on. But the reality is that even watching the path of their vehicle on the Life 360 app doesn’t give you any control over their decisions. You have the big conversations and pray that they will use what they’ve learned to make good choices.
The hardest part is that you do most of this kind of parenting in relative isolation. You no longer get to have play dates where you can trade ideas about getting your baby to sleep or funny stories about new words they’ve learned. You don’t get to post your teen parenting struggles on social media or seek advice. The moms in this stage of life are uniformly quiet, but you know how they feel when Facebook asks them, “What’s on your mind?”
It’s big stuff. That’s what. The challenges they face and the battles they fight on a daily basis go way beyond a social media post and you wouldn’t want to embarrass your kids by posting them anyway.

Then, you have those days when you have to face the woman at the prom shop and humbly try to explain how it’s even possible that you completely forgot to order a tux for the dance that’s five days away.
“Just so you know,” she kindly explains. “If your son goes to prom next year, you probably want to order his tux about a month before.”
You feel like you need a character reference to vouch for the fact that you are normally an organized person. This woman standing here begging for a tuxedo isn’t actually someone you even recognize.
Somehow, in the midst of the regular things — like trying to figure out what to have for dinner, the excitement of your son’s baseball game, checking the volunteer schedule for second grade and juggling a ton of work projects — mixed with the bigger things — like researching colleges and getting your third child ready for high school — you simply forgot that boys have to wear nice clothes to the high school prom.
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  1. I love this! First off, you are one of the most organized persons I know. Reading this gives me so much joy in realizing I am not alone with the the craziness of raising teenagers! Second, you are winning at parenting! You might feel frazzled at times but you are winning. At least you gave yourself 5 days to get that tux! I’m being serious, you’re winning.
    I couldn’t agree more about the list being all BIG stuff now. Really big stuff that I can’t screw up or forget. It’s stressful and overwhelming and I try to just take it one day at a time. I love these teen years but (I never thought I’d say this) sometimes I feel like a house full of toddlers was way easier!!

    1. Cathy, I don’t want to be that mom who says, “Just wait until they are in high school! It’s all going to get harder!” And yet… it really is true. I know that each stage is hard in a different way. It’s just that the hard stuff at this stage feels so consequential.
      Thank you for reading. I miss seeing your smiling face! <3

  2. Ugh. So well put…and so scary and true. I know it’s time to rise to it all and enjoy because in a minute, they’ll be gone. But really, I just want to hide under a rock. And pray hard.

  3. It gets worse before it gets better because….menopause. The timing is perfect as kids suddenly step up to organize their own lives, because we fail, which allows them to leave the nest easier than if you had continued to do it all. Accept the limitations of imperfection. God has it all figured out.

    1. Hi Val, This comment made me laugh. I guess you are right. God has perfectly timed a mom’s forgetfulness during menopause with the need for our kids to leave the nest. Great perspective! <3

  4. YES!!! THIS!!! (Minus dating & driving, yet!) I recently learned what juuling is & how prevalent weed apparently is in junior high. Annelise’s first school cheer tryouts culminate this Saturday morning, AND THEN her allstar competition tryouts for next season are Saturday evening. Will’s 8th grade dance is the next Saturday. And suddenly my gym boss just told us we apparently have an online required training that must be completed by Friday morning – THIS Friday morning, and it’s four hours long. I don’t have time to budget for that!!! Thanks for commiserating with those of us along for the ride on the crazy train.

    1. Sues, the end of the school year is just so crazy, isn’t it? I didn’t realize that Will is the same age as my daughter! Lots of fun stuff happening as they wrap up junior high!

  5. All true! If we slow down long enough to think about all of it, it can get overwhelming. And people ask me what I do in my free time. Ha! That IS my free time. When they were younger, it was hard in a much different way. Now that they’re older, the stakes of their decision making are much higher. My dependence on God has become much greater during the teen years.

    1. Hey Elizabeth… You are so right. Many times, I know all I can do is pray and ask God to give them the wisdom they need. They will still mess up, but we work through it. Thanks for the comment. <3

  6. Well then a few years pass and you get a little older and you forget even more. What do you do then? There is to much information in our finite brains. It gets cluttered. We get frustrated even more. Then a few more years pass and you realize forgetting is a part of life now so you may as well live in the moment where God can meet you in your forgetfulness.

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