When I look back on the summer of 2015, all I am going to think about is change. Lots and lots of change. We didn’t move cities or houses; we didn’t add to our family; we didn’t get a new dog; we didn’t even do anything crazy out of the ordinary like go to the Outerbanks instead of Wild Dunes. All six of us actually look pretty much the same as we did last summer – except for the kids have grown a couple of inches, and I’ve added a few more Crow’s Feet.
We did, however, live through our oldest transitioning from elementary to middle school. And not since the summer of 2004 when I was a brand-spanking-new mom have I ever felt more unsure and indecisive about our parenting strategies than I did this summer. I had this parenting thing down in April, then May hit, my oldest turned eleven, summer smacked me in the face, and I was left with blank spaces where my best parenting answers should’ve been.
See, what I didn’t realize, is the transition between elementary and middle school sets off a whole host of “things” – that’s the most positive word I can think of for it – that no one can see coming when it’s your first time. Well, maybe you see them coming, but you don’t actually know how hard they hit until they’ve landed right between your eyes. Things like cell phones, social media, Facetime, and pleas for independence – staying home alone, going to the pool alone, and walking the mall alone.
I’m not here to say yea or nay to any of these – I’ll write that post when my youngest is going to middle school and I see how my oldest turned out. But, I am here to say (warn) that right when you feel like you’re smooth sailing, Hurricane Tween can come in and wipe out all that you’ve built. I know all transitions can feel rocky, but for some reason this one feels extra sharp (and if you’re the parent of a rising high school or college student, those changes must feel like that Cutco knife I was just talked into – ouch).
We’re going into this school year as complete newbies to this middle school gig. Yes, I mean WE. My husband, daughter, and I are in this thing together – for better or for worse. I have no doubt my daughter will do great in her new role; I, on the other hand, feel like a professional cowboy who was just asked to play NHL…without any skates. I am great at lassoing the cattle (me + four kids in Target = professional) – not so great at reacting to foreign objects hurling toward me (tween boys + Facetime + my daughter = mama no likey).
Good luck to all of those other professionals being knocked down to rookie status this fall. Saddle up, hold on tight, and try to look forward, not back.