Giving Up Control

La Luz Necklace/Moxie Hoops/Crew Neck Tee (This color tee is no longer available.)

I really thought that the summer was going to drag on since we are still pretty much stuck in the house with not much to do, but it is actually going by pretty fast.  We are nearing the end of June already and things are rolling right along.  I am struggling a bit this week because I am conflicted.  My annual girls’ beach weekend that was postponed in May is finally here, and I CANNOT wait.  I know you guys are probably sick of hearing about it already, but I can’t really express how much this weekend means to me each year and how much I love spending time with my tribe.  My conflict comes because this weekend is also cheer tryouts for my girls.  While I know that my husband can handle it, I’m still struggling with not being here for them.  I think part of that comes from just being a mom, but I also think some of it has to do with the fact that my husband has been deployed for so much of our marriage.  I have always had the responsibility of doing these types of things with the girls on my own.  I’m not used to letting him take on this kind of tasks with the girls.  There is nothing wrong with it, and like I said, he can handle it.  It’s just different for me.  In the past I would have had to miss out on my girls’ trip or beg my mom to make the long drive to help because I didn’t have any other choice.  Even though it has been two years since he last deployed, I think that the adjustment of having him here to help is something that is going to take a while for me to get used too.  He has done shore duties before where he didn’t deploy for a couple of years at a time, but he was always still traveling a lot and not home very much.  Now that he has reached the point in his career that he is no longer going to deploy and only take a few short trips here and there, I am learning to rely on his help more and more.  Just yesterday, I scheduled an appointment for myself not thinking much of it.  I was pleasantly surprised when my husband got home and mentioned trying to work around his schedule so that he could go with me.  It honestly never occurred to me that he would go with me.  Again, I am just used to doing it all on my own.  I was really touched that he thought he should go and that he was going to make the effort.  He has rarely been able to do things like that before.  Of course, I don’t need him to go, but the thought was very touching to me and really meant a lot.

This is a dilemma that I think all military wives face.  We get used to doing things on our own.  We hardly ever ask for help, and we somehow make it all work.  It is a sacrifice that most of us gladly make for our families so that our spouses can protect and defend our country.  It’s not easy and sometimes we feel like breaking, but we manage the best we can.  Some of the strongest, most courageous women I know are military spouses.  You would think that we would all welcome the day when our spouse is home to help, but it isn’t that simple.  When you have lived this life for a long time like I have doing things on your own and in your own way, it is hard to not only willingly accept help, but it is also hard to give up control.  It is not that I want control of everything. Trust me, I don’t.  It just that it has always been me doing it all alone. That is what I a used to.  For example, the past two years, both of my girls (one in cheer and one in gymnastics) had conflicting competition schedules.  Before my youngest became involved in cheer, I was always traveling with my oldest for all of her gymnastics competitions all the time dragging my youngest with us.  My husband was rarely home during competition season.  When my youngest started cheer two years ago, it quickly became apparent that my husband and I were going to have to split up because I clearly couldn’t be at two places at once, and he was here now to help.  It just worked out that he traveled for gymnastics since my oldest didn’t need a lot of help, and I traveled for cheer to do hair and makeup.  It was extremely hard for me not to be with my oldest and to miss out on so many of her competitions.  I did not like it that he got to go, and I didn’t.  I had been the one with her for so many years that it was hard for me to share it and give up control of traveling with her. While I was happy that he finally got to see her compete every competition, I was super jealous that I didn’t.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my youngest to see her compete too.  It was that I really wanted to be with both. I wanted to split myself in half like I have been doing for years and be with both. I don’t know how I would have managed it all if he still was deploying, but I would have figured out a way to make it work.  

While I am learning to let go of control of a lot of things and learning to accept help, I have to admit that it isn’t easy.  Doing it all was my way of life for 18 years. That’s a long time.  It’s hard to break habits that have been going on for that long.  It is even harder for me to ask for and accept help.  I am beyond grateful that my husband is here to share the load and that my stress and anxiety levels are lower than they have ever been. Plus he finally gets to be fully present in our kids lives. Despite it being two years now, it is clear that I am still getting used to this new stage in our lives.  I have to undo 18 years of thinking and acting, and that isn’t going to happen overnight.  This weekend will be amazing and hard for me all at once.  I usually don’t call home much when I am on my trip, but this time I am requesting frequent updates and details from all three on tryouts so that I feel like I am there too. I am not going to let it damper my time with my tribe, but a small part of me will be feeling like I am missing out and that I am skipping out on my duties as a mom.

Anchored and Learning to Let Go,

  

College Decisions

image from militaryonesource.mil

Well, it is happening.  It is really happening, and it scares me to death.  The college brochures and emails have started coming daily for my oldest.  I am not ready to think about that.  She is certainly not ready to think about it. It’s happening too fast.  How can it be that time already? She has 2 more years of high school before it really happens, but that day is approaching way quicker than I like.  Next year is when we will start making the college visits and really narrowing it down.  The thing that scares me the most is that I don’t think she is ready.  I am terrified about her going off on her own.  She isn’t mature enough, and I don’t know how she will handle life without us there.  I swear my 11-year-old is way more mature than my 15-year-old.  It is kind of sad, but it just who she is.  She is so painfully shy, and has difficulty speaking up around others.  She struggles with ordering her own food at a restaurant or answering the doctor’s questions when she has an appointment.  We force her to do these things, but it is like pulling teeth.  She is the kid that I have to tell to eat lunch when it is time, or she won’t eat.  How in the world is she going to make it in college? 

image from lifehacker.com

I see her so differently from myself when I was that age.  I cared about my grades and wanting to get into a good school.  I was doing everything I could to ensure I would get some scholarships.  By the time I was her age, I knew without a doubt what I wanted to do with my life.  I knew that I wanted to major in education, and I knew that I wanted to go to a smaller school away from home.  I was all ready to go visit different schools and make a decision on the best place for me.  I already had ideas of the schools I wanted to see. I had a friend who was a couple of years older than me who I looked up to.  She went to a small women’s college, and there was something about that idea that intrigued me.  I choose several women’s colleges along with a few other small schools to visit.  There was one women’s college that I had never heard of, but I remember getting a brochure in the mail and being very interested.  The first time I set foot on that campus for a tour, I knew that that was the college for me.  It was an instant feeling I got, and I was going to do whatever it took for me to go there.  My child, though, doesn’t care about school and grades, and there has never been a thought of scholarships in her mind.  She has no clue what she wants to do with her life, and she has no interest at all in colleges.   She could care less. When we press her on it, she talks about all these big schools that I know will swallow her whole.  She needs to go to a small school.  I think that a school like I went to would be perfect for her, but she has no desire to go to the same school as me.  She says there is no way she is going to a women’s college.  I’m ok with that, but she really needs to start thinking about finding the one that is right for her.  I honestly feel like my husband and I are going to be forced to choose a school for her, and I certainly don’t want that. I keep hoping that she is going to step up and be more responsible, but so far that hasn’t happened.  I feel like we have pushed her pretty hard over the years and we have always had very high expectations for her.  Some would say that we have been too hard on her, but it is only because we want the best for her.  I just wish that she would care more and have more drive.  I wish she would show some responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, she is a good kid and she stays out of trouble.  She makes good grades, but she doesn’t push herself.  It isn’t a priority for her.  I think that is what is so hard about it for me.  School was the #1 priority for me, and it is just hard for me to watch it not be for her. 

The days are coming when she has to make some hard decisions. I will do my best to guide her, but I will be shaking through it all. I want so much for her in her future, and I know that God is going to lead her down the right path. I just wish I knew what that path was. It would sure make my life a lot easier! I just have to put my trust in God and her and just pray that it all works out the way it is meant to. I have to trust that the lessons we have taught her will be enough for her to make it out in the world on her own. She will always be my little peanut, and I will always worry about her. I have to prepare myself to let go. I’ve still got a little bit of time to hold on tight before that happens, though, and I plan to take advantage of every bit of it.

Anchored,

Letting Go

I know I am not alone when I say that 90% of what I say to my teenage daughter goes in one ear and out the other.  I would even go as far as saying that most of it actually doesn’t even enter her ears at all and just flies over her head in space somewhere.  I’m not kidding.  It is so frustrating. The look above is the one that I get a lot. It’s the “Ok, whatever mom” look. I honestly don’t know how to get through to her sometimes.  I really wish that I had a magic wand I could wave to get her to care. This is especially true when it comes to school and academics.  I cannot get her to care about school at all.  This has been her whole life, though, not just as a teen.  Don’t get me wrong, she makes good grades for the most part, but she really has no care in the world when it comes to school.  I keep thinking that one day she’s going to grow up and mature enough to start caring, but I am starting to loose hope.

Her attitude towards school is the total opposite of how I was growing up. I was the kid that would get upset when I got a grade that was low (and my standard of low for myself was much higher than most people would think was low).  I studied a lot. I cared about what classes I was taking.  I cared about making grades that would get me into a good college.  I didn’t want to disappoint my parents by not being near the top of the class. My parents never put that pressure on me, though. They didn’t have to.  I put the pressure on myself to always be perfect. It was just my nature to strive to be the perfect kid. I know that is one of my flaws.  I have always had this idea of what perfect looks like and that I had to be just that. My child, on the other hand, could care less about college and getting into a good school.  All she cares about is trying to do gymnastics in college, which is a highly unlikely scenario. I think it frustrates me so much because I just don’t understand how she could not care about these things. She gets a bad grade and it doesn’t faze her at all, even when she knows that she will be in trouble when we see the grade. It honestly makes me want to pull my hair out on a regular basis. 

I will go on record to say that I think part of her feelings towards school is a result of how hard school is for her.  She has a mild learning disability in reading and writing which makes those things harder for her.  She takes regular classes and doesn’t get any extra support in school anymore because she doesn’t need it.  I just think her struggles in her early years with reading turned her off from school and learning.  Another part of it is that school just isn’t a priority for her.  Gymnastics has been her life since she was one year old. That’s her priority. That’s what she cares about.  That is her sole focus in life.  Maybe we messed up when we pulled her out of regular school to do virtual school those two years of middle school.  We did that mainly because the schools where we lived at the time were horrible.  She certainly wasn’t getting the best education there where she had to evacuate the school for 2-3 bomb threats a month.  In her mind, though, we did it so that she could train more in gymnastics.  While that was a part of the decision, it certainly was not the main reason.  Maybe that sent her the wrong message that school was less important than gymnastics.  I don’t know.  As a parent you are always second-guessing your decisions.  I still believe it was the right decision for her education, but maybe it wasn’t the right decision for her mindset.

All of this has been on my mind this week because we had to put in her request for classes for next year. I was really trying to encourage her to take more honors and AP classes, and she was fighting me on it every step of the way.  She doesn’t take it seriously at all, which drives me nuts. I know that those harder classes will be difficult for her and that she will struggle, and I know that she doesn’t want to put in the effort it takes in those classes. BUT…I also know that it looks better on her transcript for college if she takes those classes and does well in them. She doesn’t care, though. She doesn’t think ahead to the future.  She only cares about the here and now. My struggle comes with how much to push her. How much pressure do I put on her? Is it worth it? Do I just accept the fact that this is who she is and let it go? Being a parent is so hard.  I honestly sit in my car driving the carpool to practice in the afternoons and listen to my daughter’s teammate talk about all of her homework and how she stays up to 2:00 AM doing schoolwork after practice.  I see how stressed and overwhelmed she is about school because she is in all honors and AP classes.  Do I really want that for my child? I don’t want her stressed out and up all hours doing work.  There has to be some kind of balance for these kids.  Ugh! Why is it so hard? 

I guess the only thing I can do is to continue to pray about her and what the future holds for her, and then just try to make the best decisions I can for her. I am coming to realize that I have to let go of my idea of who I think she is supposed to be and accept who she really is.  It is clear that I can’t change her, and as I think about it, I am not sure I want to anymore.  She is who she is and she will become who she is meant to be.  Maybe my previous expectations for her were never realistic. Maybe I was projecting my idea of perfect on her just like I have always done to myself.  I have talked about learning to accept myself for who I am, imperfections and all, but I have never considered until now that I was projecting that same idea of “perfect” onto her. I think it is time to let that go.  My thinking is flawed.  I have to change my mindset. I have to let her be who she is meant to be.  My idea of perfect is wrong.  She is perfect just the way she is.  Yes, I still need to guide her, but I don’t have to force her to be like me. I have to let go. I have to let her choose her path and make her own mistakes. I have to let her be. It’s hard, but it is how I have to go forward. I have learned that when you finally let go and let God take control, great things/magical things will happen. That is what I have to do. I’m letting go and letting God.

Anchored and Letting Go,