There is a lot of pressure in being a parent: pressure from society, pressure from other parents, pressure to be perfect, pressure to know exactly what to do at all times. None of that compares, though, to the pressure parents get from their children. They don't necessarily mean to do it, but when they turn up the heat, they turn it up high.
Lottie was a little apprehensive about going back to school this year because of some issues she had last year with frenemies. (Why does this start in 4th grade? Why does it start at all? I mean, sheesh. Can't kids just treat each other with a modicum of decency?) She was worried about how to deal with mean girls, what to say, what to do. I told her that I expect her to always be cordial and polite to people, but no means do I think she has to be friends with every single student in her school. She replied that it was easy for me to say because I like and get along with everyone I meet. I laughed and laughed when she said that because um, no. I certainly don't want to be besties with everyone, but neither am I outwardly rude. If she really thinks that, I'm doing my job well of teaching my children how to be cordial to others, but it also means they're watching all the time, every minute. Talk about pressure.
Then, the other night around bedtime, both kids came to our bedroom in tears. They both wanted to talk to us alone, so Lottie paced in the hall while Dal took the first turn. He was trying so hard to be stoic, but I could see tears welling in his eyes as his chin began to wobble. He said that he and Lottie had been talking about college, and she told him that college lasts for four years. When I said she was right, his head slumped down to his chest. His breath hitched, and then he said he never wanted to live away from us, so college just wasn't for him. Oh, boy. I told him that there were a lot of people who lived at home while going to college, so that was always an option for him. Trevor chimed in that he had lived at home during law school, so Dal could stay with us as long as he wanted. I also reminded my sweet boy that he's only 8 years old, and we had plenty of time to think about his college years. Dallas got some hugs and kisses, walked out the door, and told Lottie that it was her turn. I had approximately four seconds to restock my sympathy. PRESSURE. (And, yes, I know he won't feel that way forever. I didn't want to diminish his feelings by telling him that, though, so I left that tidbit out for now.)
Lottie was lamenting her sisterly behavior: she said she just couldn't help yelling at Dal sometimes even though she tried to keep it all inside her head. I reminded her that spending a lot of time with someone meant that sometimes there were fights, and that's okay as long as they remember that they love each other deep down. She nodded slowly, and then she said she didn't think it was fair to have to share a bathroom with him. My sympathy broke a little then, and I enjoyed seeing her gobsmacked face when I told her we only had one bathroom when I was growing up, so there. I sent her off to bed, and then I proceeded to think about both conversations all night. In the morning, they had both basically forgotten about the night before, and I was bleary-eyed from lack of sleep. And not for nothin', sometimes I seriously wonder who on earth approved my motherhood status because I have no idea what I'm doing. How do you spell parenting? P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E.
The thing that is the most pressure is that although Trevor is almost always around when these meltdowns occur, both kids will basically climb over him to get to me. I am pretty sure I could be in another country, and they would both hold out until I got home to lose their ever-loving' minds. They come to me for comfort, for homework help, for fashion advice, for questions about the world, to make them food, to fix Nerf guns..to fix everything. What IS that? Truth be told, I don't *hate* when they want me or need me because I know that those times will slowly disappear as they get older. And it felt pretty darn good when we picked Lottie up from her week-long camp to have her run to me first. Sometimes, though, it would be nice to step out of the histrionics and just hear about the drama later. Of course, each time I have a little getaway or time to myself, I miss the insanity that is my house more than I ever thought I could. What do I want you to take away from this blog post? No idea. My brain is too scrambled to come up with a good ending, so I'll just say to the dads, solve some of the problems on your own from time to time, and moms, revel in the fact that although you find yourselves stuck in the pressure cooker, you usually manage to keep your cool. Pat yourselves on the back, but don't get too cocky because tomorrow is another day.
***Edited to add that Lottie just called me into the kitchen to ask me for help with a project when Trevor was standing in the kitchen 5 feet away from her. 5 FEET AWAY.