I always want my kids. Some days I just don’t want to parent. I don’t want to have the responsibility of making heavy decisions. Sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly be in charge of these small people. ME?? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was trying to figure out which TrapperKeeper to put my Lisa Frank folders in? My favorite thing to wear was a hot pink frilly skirt and an orange shirt. WITH A MATCHING SCRUNCHY. I wanted my cat to wear a bonnet and carry him around in a basket. Would you put your child’s future in THAT girl’s hands? Negative.
But, somehow, here I am. And it is hard. My husband and I had to change our older son’s school and it was a tough decision. He’s miserable. He’s overwhelmed. He doesn’t seem ready. Do we make him tough it out? What about his mental health? Do we do more harm by pulling him from school? What are the school’s expectations? What lessons are we teaching him? How will this affect his confidence? How do we protect him without hindering him? How do I advocate for him? What about his sweet heart? What do we do? If you are asking these same questions, here is what I found to be true:
1. Take a moment on your own to go through the specifics of your situation. What is real and true and not based solely on emotional reactions? Don’t lose sight of emotions, though. Feelings ARE real, especially for children. Just be sure to balance with logic.
2. Let friends help you find balance. Not the sort-of friends, but the super-friends. The ones that love your kids like their own and would fight for them right along side of you, make you meals when you’re sick, won’t lie to you but also know when to trust your gut just like you should. Confide in them. Don’t be afraid to show the vulnerability that every parent feels at one time or another.
3. If available, consult your mother.
4. If you have one, give your parenting-partner the chance to listen to your thoughts, ideas, opinions, feelings. ASK to hear what he/she is thinking, too. Even if you are the one that is home most of the time with your kids, the other parent deserves to be considered.
5. Consult the professionals. In our case, we talked with the school counselor who was very understanding and helpful. Did she change our minds? No. But she listened. And she reminded us that we were doing the right thing by considering our child’s individual needs. We also talked to teachers we know and trust. It was important for us to know what could possibly be going on behind the scenes at school. Teachers don’t have as much control as we would like to think. They are subject to so many factors. Most of the time, they wish they could be providing each student with exactly what he/she needs. So, try not to jump to conclusions.
6. If you’re this far into trying to make the “right decision” for your kid, know that you’re one of the good ones. Give yourself a break. I had feelings of inadequacy and worried that I was screwing up my child’s life. I had to put things in perspective. Because of this decision, will he hate school forever? No. Will he never make friends? No. Will he be unable to adapt to new situations? No. Will he be living in the basement when he’s 30? Eh, doubtful.
7. Pray or do what ever makes you feel centered and whole. Trust your instincts.
Now that we are on the other side of this decision, I see that the right answer was clear the whole time. Hindsight, right? You know what else? Those weeks where we were trying, thinking, stressing, talking, and praying were consuming. Besides my other child, there wasn’t much else that I thought about. This taught me that when it comes down to it, my children truly are the most important thing in my life. The laundry didn’t matter. The dirty bathrooms, my fitness, whether we were eating the “good meat”, the dusty piano. That’s all peanuts compared to the happiness I saw on my boy’s face when we toured his new school. So, today I am in charge of these two small people and I’m doing ok. You’ll do ok, too.