on growing pains

Show me that smile again (show me that smile)

Don’t waste another minute on your crying

We’re nowhere near the end (we’re nowhere near)

The best is ready to begin…

First of all, I think it’s important for you to know that I did just type out the Growing Pains theme song by memory. So to answer your question, yes, I’ve always watched far too much television.

Now I’ll give you a minute to sing through the rest of the theme song…

The luckiest dreamers who never quit dreaming…

We got each other, sharing the laughter and love (laughter and love).

Are you crying too? No? Just me then, huh. OK.

I’m a proud, solid crier. I will cry about anything. I’ve read on the World Wide Web that this means I am strong or emotionally mature or something. I didn’t learn that until recently, when I had long since adjusted to my tearjerky ways. For a really long time, I was worried people would see me cry and wonder why I couldn’t hold myself together. Or come over with hugs and sympathetic eyes I was not, in fact, emotionally mature enough to deal with. So I wouldn’t cry unless I was in my bedroom, in a bathroom stall, or anywhere that other’s eyes weren’t. 

What did I do instead of confronting my own emotions in public? I made jokes.

(It’s all making sense now, you’re thinking to yourself. It’s OK. Every comedian has an origin story.)

From my wise old age of 32 (PS THAT is a joke), I realize that most of my dramatic hidden sobfests were truly simply teenage growing pains.  (Show me that smile.) That’s not to say I’m past the hard days and the need for a good bathroom cry, it’s just to say I’ve reached a point in my life where I realize those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days of adolescence were temporary and necessary for growth. So now I don’t care who I cry in front of or why, if people agree with me politically, or honestly, if people like me that much. (I MEAN OK OBVIOUSLY I WANT THEM TO LIKE ME but meh, I’ve got my people.)

I made it through the growing pains (don’t waste another minute on your crying) unscathed; or at least, not too terribly screwed up.

So why does the thought of Boone’s growing pains make me want to double over in nausea? I don’t want him to cry. I don’t want people to disagree with his thoughts on politics and dog gone it, I WANT PEOPLE TO LIKE HIM!

Don’t worry, baby, everyone will always love you and you’ll be fine.

There’s a disconnect, I think, between parenting someone who has to take the painful journey of growing up and being someone who has already experienced it. On the one hand, I realize all of the embarrassing interactions and crushing blows are a vital part of helping us through awkward phases of adolescence. On the other hand, Boone and Jonah are my precious little kitten-puppy-ice cream-unicorn creations. They are smart and funny and everyone needs to appreciate how unique and awesome they are. So maybe they can just skip the whole “weird growth phase” that I think lasts from about preschool-college and just be totally self-assured right from the get-go? Huh? Maybe? 

No. 

So how do I parent embarrassment? And not minor embarrassment — big, life-changing, dramatic, the-sky-is-falling embarrassment.

Here’s the short answer: I don’t know. I don’t know today, because today nothing made the sky fall. I can’t plan for it — even though you know I’d love to — because I don’t know what it will be. I don’t know if a boy will say he doesn’t want to be friends anymore or if, as a college senior, he’ll write an email complaining about a professor and then accidentally send it directly to that professor. (OK but honestly, I might be able to help him out of that one.)

I admit, this has been troubling me more than I’d like. I want to have a plan in my head on all of the ways I can protect my children. And so God has whispered, first quietly and then a little louder and more insistently-

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

And this is where I tell you God surely has a sense of humor since He’s repeating this to girl who literally read “What to Expect: the Toddler Years” when she was in her first trimester with her firstborn. God, I want to worry about things! It’s how I plan!

And He says, yes, of course, I know. But don’t.

So I’m not. Instead of worrying about how to handle the tough parts of parenting, instead of reading books or developing helpful plans, I’m praying. I’m asking for wisdom to be doled out when I’ll need it. It is one of the many ways God’s trying to strengthen my faith and my dependence on Him. It’s not easy. I mean it’s not crying-in-a-bathroom-stall, but — hey. Are our whole entire lives just one continuous stretch of growing pains? Were Jason and Maggie Seaver learning just as much about life as Mike, Carol, Ben, and later Chrissy? Will we ever figure anything out at all?

No.

Matthew 6:34. 

We got each other, sharing the laughter and love…

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