Kristina Beers: Learning to enjoy the present

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer
As many of you know, I have what still may be perceived as a ‘houseful of boys.’ It’s the downgraded version for us, with two living away at university — it’s like we went from Windows 10 back to Windows 3.0. Someday we will go all the way down to DOS.

Daily activity is familiar; nothing new under the sun, history repeats itself, yada, yada, yada; all the old adages come to fruition in a house where the youngest is coming of age and he’s the caboose in a long train.

I will stress, however, that it doesn’t make it any easier. Just because I know what’s coming or I recognize the stage he’s going through doesn’t stop me from wanting to wipe the smug look off his face or stuff the backtalk with his own dirty, mismatched socks. Boys are rough, teenage boys are rougher.

In fact, I would willingly accept an extra year with a toddler to lessen the time spent parenting a teenager. It’s just that bad. I feel like I say “no” to my teens as much or more than I did with my toddlers. The compounding factor? He is developing his own mind and thought process in the midst of family boundary searches. He has to voice his own opinion on the reasoning (or unfairness) of a “no,” so not only is he still wrong, now I get to argue with him about it — oh, bring me the days of “crying babies go to bed!”

I have recently been looking through family pictures in preparation for our graduate this year. This seems to be a key factor in my frustration with the boys at home. In my hands, I hold a 3×5 likeness of a cute, bleach-blonde curly headed toddler staring up at me with an unabashed, gap-toothed smile. I glance up at the reality of a scowling, surly, wild-haired boy who keeps telling me how “unfair” life is and smiles only when he gets what he wants.

I get a heavy sadness in my stomach seeing in stark reality how much time has passed, how beautiful my children were and regret that I didn’t appreciate it more so many years ago.

Time marches on, and like my mantle clock I need to wind up every few days, I can only turn it one way. There is no rewind. I may feel nostalgia for those days but I can’t go back to them. Pining over it won’t change a thing except to continue to frustrate me. I can be sad for a time, sitting with my emotion and accepting it, but then I must move on and enjoy what I have.

What I have is pretty terrific. I might not have that shiny, curly headed boy, but I do have a sharp-as-a-tack clown who makes me laugh at the same time he pushes my buttons. Our typical interplay goes something like this:

“No more playing the ‘baby’ card! In fact, I’m taking the deck away!”

… Silence for a beat …

“Can I use the Joker? Did you leave a Joker in there?”

You laughed, didn’t you! I know I did (had to) because it was funny. It didn’t change my punishment, but it certainly deflated my anger, which was his goal, to be sure. I take life and parenting very seriously; all too often, I think I take it much too seriously and that is why I probably was given such clever children.

I miss my babies — and if you are a mom of toddlers reading this, are exhausted and simply OVER tying shoes, potty training, and buckling carseats, stop; take a breath and inhale your sweet kiddo before you tuck her in bed (for the 10th time). I surely miss those toe-headed boys. But if I swim in my memories too hard, I will miss the joys waiting for me in the Right Now. And we all know, if you blink twice, it’s gone.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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