Parenting isn't the easiest job, and as your kids get older, the task becomes a lot more challenging; especially once you get into the teenage phase. I don't know what it is about your kids once they reach their adolescent years, but it seems like they do a complete 380 (yes, I said 380).
In the blink of an eye, your precious little baby that you held in your arms and never wanted to put down all of a sudden hardly wants to give you a hug. The memories of them as little ones gives me baby fever at times.
With my oldest son (the teenager), I didn't feel like his mom at the beginning.
I don't know if it was because I had him so young, the fact that his grandmothers treated him like their child, or the fact he called me by my name and called my mom, "Momma." Either way, it wasn't until I had my youngest son that I began to feel like I had become a mother.
Yes, that was very hard for me to admit, but I can only tell the truth.
Fast forward to a time where my baby is now a freshman in high school, I'm finding it difficult to get him motivated about his education, chores, and just about anything else for that matter. When I was younger, it was known that we had to clean up because Kim Pace didn't play. There was never a discussion or a thought to pout about cleaning the bathrooms, washing dishes, and making sure our rooms were cleaned. On the education side of things, I wasn't pushed to make straight A's, but I always had that inner drive in me to do better than best.
This mentality is rubbing off into my parenting and the expectations I have set for my kids.
In my household, anything below a B is not allowed because I feel like in this day and age, young black boys must be pushed to become successful black men. Lately, I don't know if my pushing is having a positive or negative effect on my boys, mainly the oldest one. Recently, his grades have plummeted below my standards. Hell, he's even had F's and that's a HELLLLLL NOOOOO!. I feel that he would probably have more of those grades if I wasn't staying on top of him to study.
As a mother with a demanding career and a tunneled mindset, I try my hardest to stay current with my kid's school work, but it isn't always easy. Thankfully, the local school system requires their teachers to send frequent emails and/or text messages to alert us when there are tests, quizzes, projects, and etc. Although I love the notifications, I can tell my son does not feel the same because he can't get over on me.
After speaking with some people, I'm starting to question if I'm being too hard on my kids.
My biggest fear as a parent is that if I'm not hard enough on them then they'll end up not living their full potential, and if I'm too hard on them, they will not reach their full potential.
Basically, I'm finding myself in a place of "I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't." I've actually come to a point where I don't know what to do. Push harder or ease up?
My parents never pushed me to do more than just receive a high school diploma because in their day and time, that was the average goal to get a "good job." As far as grades, they just wanted you to pass. They might question a D, but they weren't upset about it because "you passed." Despite their low expectations for us, me and my other siblings put it in our own hearts and desires to further our education, either with college or a trade school.
My parents' idea of success and method of pushing education was not wrong or right, and out of five children, only one chose a different path. Although we all reached their minimum expectations of success, none of us ever experienced the fulfillment in being in an actual career. Even though I taught for five years and now I'm an adjunct professor, neither of those career paths offered me personal satisfaction. Now I'm working harder on my writing, poetry, and building my brand, which gives me my ultimate fulfillment, but it took me a long while to figure this all out, and I had to do it on my own.
In the same way I had to figure it out, I will have to let my babies figure it out too. But what am I supposed to do now?
Much of how we begin to operate as adults is according to the way we were raised and what our parents instilled in us. By that logic, I should instill hard work, determination, tenacity, and persistence in my own two sons. The problem is, my method seems to be not going in either ear of my oldest child. All I get is rolled eyes and the "I wish she shut the f-ck up!" look, which causes me to question if I'm being too hard and expecting too much.
Parenting is the hardest job.
At the end of the day, blame falls on the parent for the decisions that your children make no matter how we try to say it doesn't. There is going to always be something we could have done better or not done at all. I can truthfully say that I am at a loss right now, but I don't see myself easing up on either of them any time soon.
xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com
Featured image by Shutterstock