As my oldest child starts their first college class, I’m feeling stressed. Some teenagers seem to run towards adulthood, college, driving, and jobs with zest. Not my child. Yes, they want to take the class, but still, I am worried. They aren’t driving yet. Aren’t eager to start college and not talking about moving out. They seem almost stuck.
But then, I remembered the daughter of a friend of mine, who at this age was also not driving. She was starting college, but also content to have her mom drive her to the local community college. I remember that and I relax. I can relax because my friend told me about her child’s struggles. And I now know that her daughter has grown up to not only learn to drive and graduate college, but she just got her Masters degree. Her slow to launch approach got her where she needed to go. And I think my kid will get there too.
Prepping for the Next Stage
Over the years, hearing my friend’s parenting struggles has not only allowed us to commiserate but helped to prepare me for the next stage of parenting. While it was nice to talk to other mothers of tiny babies when my first was a squishy little doll, it was even better when I could catch a glimpse of another mom coping with a cranky toddler and prep myself for what I would do when I got there. Making note of how an “emergency” lollipop could be pulled from a purse to soothe an overtired child during a difficult day was a great tip. It might not be great parenting to hand out candy all day, but we all know how a toddler who has missed a nap and a snack is its own emergency situation.
The number of tricks, tips, and brags that a group of mothers can share in an afternoon at the park is remarkable. Tips on potty training, sibling relations, coping with toddlers who hit and those that bite. Debates about cold care and teething. My favorites were always the moms who admitted when things were hard. There’s always that one mom who potty trained her 18-month-old in an afternoon, taught the child to read at 3 and makes us all feel bad. But the mothers who can admit their child didn’t fully potty train until “nearly 4” give us all hope we will be okay. The ones who talk about how reading wasn’t easy, but they used a program that got them there, let us share their success. Knowing that your friend’s child struggled, but got to where they needed to go in life, helps.
I am not Perfect
I don’t ever want to sound like the perfect mom. The mom who magically has it all together. I don’t want you to think each day is a piece of cake for me. I want to share my struggles so that you know it is okay if you struggle too. And I hope you will also share your challenges. Share that your child didn’t say “Mama” until they were 2, but now they won’t shut up. Share that your dyslexic child learned to read, your dysgraphic child now writes comic books, your dyscalculic child scored high enough to enter college math, but they couldn’t multiply until they were in 7th grade! Tell me what program you used, and how you forgot to do it some days. Tell me how you gave your children popcorn for dinner because you were just too tired to cook. I’m sure they are fine!
As mothers, we learn from each other’s wisdom. We take courage when we see that our friends have survived the terrible 2’s, 12’s and 18’s. Knowing that they got through it, lets us know that we can, too. And when we doubt ourselves, we can call our friends and have them tell us “I’ve been there.”
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.