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Mom Confessions :: On Raising Middle Schoolers

I lived through those newborn days where my baby was confused about night/day and I felt like I could never sleep, it actually felt like it would never end. Then I lived through the terrible twos when they started at the age of one, not at two like the parenting book said! I also lived through trantrums in the store because I didn’t buy him a candy and witnessed meltdowns because his shoe didn’t fit. Oh and the separation anxiety he had when I left him at a mother’s-day-out program so I could attend day classes? That was a nightmare every Tuesday and Thursday for a good year.

Now I see these moms navigating through familiar waters when their toddlers are having a meltdown over a cheeseburger. Momma, I’ve been there.  I look at them and want to say, hey you’re doing great! But this is not your most stressful part of mommyhood…. Just wait. It’ll be the middle school years.  

I am blessed to have two wonderful boys that I am raising with my husband. I love my boys beyond words. They are one of the reasons why I left my teaching job in public school. I knew my boys would need me a little more as they got older versus when they were a lot younger. I don’t know how I knew this, but I sensed it at some point. I’m grateful to work from home and be more available to them as they both go through middle school right now. I pride myself in being an expert in child development and early childhood, specifically because I am in the business of running an early childhood educational program every day.

Before the summer rolled around, I had nothing in my toolbox to help me deal with my teenagers. On the days their hormones are jacking with their moods, I go to my “safe place”- the closet. What I do is give myself a pep talk and remember how much I love them, even if they are acting like fools at that moment. I know they are going through changes, developing a new identity, changing friendships and honestly, they are just not predictable anymore! Trust me when I say every day is not the same with teens. I know this to be a fact because I am living it every day.

When babies don’t have their immediate needs met, they cry. When teens don’t have their immediate needs met, they slam doors.

I don’t like slammed doors in my house… ever.  So, the teacher mom that I am, decided to look into parenting sessions with a counseling program catering to moms. I wanted to educate myself on strategies in dealing with those teenage moments because I didn’t want to lose my mind at 41.  My baby girl just started Kindergarten so she needs Mommy to be thinking straight every day.

“Have your kids close in age” they say.  “It will be great!” they say.  Who said this to me?

Well, I learned a few things from my personal one-on-one sessions over the summer. Tweaking just a few words in how I communicate with my middle school sons made a world of difference. I feel like I am becoming more understanding of their needs by listening more versus making each moment a teaching moment and interrogating them on every move. Every day still isn’t the same with teens. When it does get a little easier, they throw me a curveball, I guess to keep me on my feet. Deciding to seek out effective strategies to help guide me through this parenting phase was the best decision for me. Just like I need to grow as an educator and and continue professional development, I need to do the same as a mom. Times have changed from when I was in middle school back in the 80s. I believe I am a better mom today because I can admit I need guidance so that I can continue guiding my sons in the most natural way possible and in a positive, loving manner. Plus I’ve added some new teen tools to my toolbox now!

Having sons going through middle school and these hormonal changes at the same time is a tough gig for any mom. To quote Gloria Gaynor, “At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”; this was an understatement for me last year. But now I know I will survive. Yes, I will!

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