Having parenting partners… other than a spouse

I got this great card not long ago.  It was from a mother of another teen boy in our circle.  She noted that she really enjoyed having our family involved with hers and she was glad to have other parents to share this journey with.  She is awesome for creating events for the kids that are age appropriate and I adore her because I. am. worn. right now.  Life’s undertow is catching me and my son is suffering less because of her efforts.  And yesterday I realized that I have parenting partners above and beyond my husband…

I often don’t fit into social groups neatly.  I don’t really understand social politics and I don’t know how to manage through them.  I’m often excluded from things and I’m not really sure what it is about me that rubs people wrong–I’m just over trying to figure it out.  I am who I am and a few years ago I took that and just came to be comfortable that I am just not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  I will always take pause to evaluate my actions if they bother someone.  I am always going to look at myself and ask myself if their issue is with something about me that *I* feel is a problem.  We are always growing and changing.  I’m not so good that I will not have things to change and I am open to that.  But a few years ago I looked at who I was and I liked that person.  It’s just not for everyone and I realized that I didn’t really want to be around people that couldn’t find something to genuinely enjoy about me.

But that leaves me left out of a lot of things which inadvertently leaves my kids out of things.  Because moms involve kids who have moms they actually want to be around.

Homeschool Meetup groups are great for getting around a lot of that.  The gatherings are really about the kids–not the adults.  You could, conceivably, go to a meetup and let your kid be involved in the activity without being too obligated to participate with the parents.  It’s lovely.

Of course, you may participate with the parents.  That might result in the gift I currently have:  parenting partners.  Other parents who share this journey with you–that you can process things with and plan things with and talk about what’s going on, what someone read, what WE experienced when WE were this age, how that affects our views on our children now, what we want to accomplish in our parenting, how we might accomplish that… and occasionally, tag-teaming an “intervention”.

I had that yesterday.  I could have cried at the generosity of such a gift.

One of the mothers in this group of kids presented us with this idea of building independent living skills on another level and we were totally in.  We parsed out the challenges, the benefits, the possibilities… We talked about how there needed to be baby steps and build-up.  She was the ring leader for sure but we were on board.  We needed one another.  We needed the kids to be in groups for some of these things.  We needed adults and kids we felt we could trust.  We had the perfect storm.

To that end, last week’s t/w/een meetup included a venture downtown from a nearby park and ended with 3 of the 4 kids involved getting sucked into video games at the library.  “What’s the problem?” you ask?  Here are the problems:

  • One child couldn’t get access to the computers because it was crowded and the other three allowed that child to leave and walk all the way back to the park alone while they played video games.
  • One child had been grounded from screen access in every way–and was fully aware that this was a violation of that punishment.
  • One child was on a regimen where certain things had to be done during the day before they had screen access and it was unlikely those things would be done.  This was a workaround to get what they wanted (screen time).
  • One child was supposed to be back at a specific time so that a work-at-home parent could get back to work… and was not back even remotely on time.

All. Of. The. Not-good.

One parent went to pick up hers and mine.  Another was already picking up another child in another area of the downtown and stopped at the library to pick up her child.  My husband and daughter were bicycling in the area and met the other two parents there.  It was, as one parent texted me “The descent of the angry parents”.

But when they got back, mine and another were the worst offenders and the other mother took the opportunity for BOTH of us to talk to BOTH of our kids together about the situation.  I didn’t realize what was going on at first.  I didn’t assume this partnership she invited me into.  But at one point, she gave me a gentle pinch on the arm to signal “my turn” and invited me into sharing my parenting thoughts with HER child, too.

This is the same parent that sent me the card a few weeks ago.

On the way home, BigGuy and I were further processing the afternoon and as I allowed him some space and silence, I did my own processing.  That was when I realized: I’m not completely alone here.  It’s different from having a spouse.  These are parents who are with me in the midst of our days to deal with things as they happen.  These are the parents who are the primary planners of child experiences in the household.  These are the parents who are doing the same job in their families as I’m doing in mine.  These are my “work colleagues” so-to-speak.  It’s like a doctor finding other doctors that believe in the same standards and methods of treatment, dealing with the same diseases and disorders in their patients.  It’s like having a village of people who all “get it” and are all in it together.

I hope you have this.  I hope that if you don’t have it, you are able to create it.  I have no idea how you do this, mamas… I’m so sorry–I was fortunate to have it placed in my lap.

But try.  Because it’s worth it.

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