Teenagers want their parents around (but will never admit it)
I recently reduced the number of days I'm working from four to three. I did this mostly for my kids so I could be around more in the afternoons. I also wanted more time for myself so I had more energy for the time that I do get to spend with them.
Even though my kids are now all at school and two of them quite independent high schoolers, I'm still feeling that they need their parents around just as much as ever. When I look at other mums of teenagers, many are pursuing significant careers now that they don't have little ones. So I've wrestled with these feeling of needing to be around. Am I just too soft? Too maternal? (and just quietly, a bit pathetic?!)
But I'm more convinced than ever that it's important to be available as much as possible. Mostly because you can't always predict when they might want to talk.
My 14 year old spent all the summer holidays with me, but it wasn't until the afternoon of the first day of school, that he starts to tell me that he's actually struggling with friendships a bit. Frankly, I was pretty zonked from my first week back at work and it wasn't great timing for me. But that's the kind of timing that you get dealt. I couldn't exactly say 'why weren't we having this conversation during our relaxing month off?'. He hadn't thought about it much until school went back.
I think it is the incidental interactions that help me relate to my kids better. Driving them to stuff, cooking dinner and chatting, actually, just physically being in the house and available, willing to be interrupted. There is a lot to talk about. Test results, upcoming assignments, difficulties with friends, music concerts, new books from the library, netball training.
The time is flying past and I feel this stage of life just slipping through my fingers at an incredible speed. While it is totally crazy busy, in three years my eldest will be in his last year of school and my place in his life will have shifted a lot. Exciting, challenging, tiring times, but precious and I'm reluctant to miss too much.