Motherhood is a trip where you never quite feel you’re in the clear. As soon as you get through one crazy curve, you’re careening into the next one. And the tools that once helped you navigate often don’t work anymore. Or they do, but you have to MacGyver them into something almost completely new—to the point where you sometimes feel grateful you’re still on the road at all.
The moms with pre-teens on this blog were chatting about how we feel we’ve outgrown the kind of mom guilt that our name seems to imply. We don’t agonize over things like daycare as much as we once did. We feel more comfortable juggling our roles as moms with our professional lives.
But having older kids doesn’t mean the guilt and worry go away. The crazy road just gets crazier. I thought I’d highlight a few of the things I worry about when it comes to tween parenting. If you have pre-teens, please add to the list.
I worry about how she smells.
At this age, there are consequences to sending a child out the door. If my daughter forgets her deodorant (which she would if I did not force it on her every morning), it would affect her social life as well as her teachers’ ability to do their jobs. Have you ever whiffed the 5th and 6th grade wing of a school on a hot day?
I worry about how I’m affecting her.
Small children don’t really notice if you’re irritable, but you can’t hide from a tween. They get hurt when you say something biting—and not just the weepy-then-all-is-forgotten kind of hurt. I see how my words sting my 10-year-old. I see her internalizing what I say and do. Many, many nights I go to bed feeling like this.
I feel guilty for not spending enough time with her.
That part of motherhood doesn’t change, but whereas a toddler wants ALL YOUR ATTENTION, a tween wants you only sparingly. When I pick my daughter up at school now, this is how she greets me.
Every now and then, though, she lets me know she still enjoys my company, and then I feel like this.
I feel guilty for not trusting her more.
She swears she wasn’t on her phone after bedtime. She swears she didn’t mean to make her sister cry. She swears she practiced guitar while I was at the store. And I’m all,
I feel guilty for trusting her too much.
I know she’s a good kid, and I feel bad that I’m constantly second guessing her. So I allow her to make dinner unsupervised. I tell her she can spend her money any way she wants at the store. I say, “sure, you can give the cat a bath,” “ride your bike all the way to school by yourself,” “listen in on this adult conversation.” And then I’m like,
Basically, I think I’m going to feel guilty forever.
This is Working Moms Against Guilt, so we believe in fighting the G-word. But let’s be real. Guilt plagues us no matter what age our kids are, whether we work outside the home or not. I don’t struggle with breastfeeding anymore, now I struggle with cracking the whip on music practice after we’ve put in a long day of school, tae kwon do, homework and any number of other things my pre-teen would rather be doing. I guess the key is to try and minimize the number of times you feel guilty and maximize moments like this, right?
If you have tips on how to do that, please let me know.