Diary of a wimpy mom | PostIndependent.com

Diary of a wimpy mom

Kerri McNeill Cheney, M.S.
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

On the eve of my first child entering middle school neither one of us can sleep. “Mom, can you stay until I fall asleep,” she says as she stares out the window by her bed.

“Of course I can.” I reply, in the dark, with this little freckle-faced 11-year-old child that will enter the sixth grade tomorrow.

“Mom, it feels like Christmas Eve, but I’m more nervous and excited instead of just excited,” she says. It does to me, too, and in this unspoken silence, with her head on my arm, we lie there wondering what this year might bring.

Oh, to be in that little head of hers. “Will I remember my locker combination? What if I cannot find my classroom? What if I bump into an eighth-grader?”

As I think of myself in sixth grade, at GSES in Sumner Schachter’s class, I remember that was the year when girls talked about “going out” and a boy actually tried to hold my hand. I was mortified!

How did the two of us get here: sixth grade? Every parent I know has always said the cliche “It goes so fast,” and this feels like it has gone at warp speed. Every year I shed a tear when I take the “first day of school” picture, but this feels right up there with the first day of kindergarten or high school graduation. Did I do everything I should have? Did I prepare her for girls being mean, or boys trying to hold her hand?

What I have come to realize is, yes, raising kids goes fast but what seems to accelerate it is the question: “Did I do it right?”

I was talking to a friend who was holding her 2-month-old son, and she said, “I am trying to just stay present.” If we constantly question ourselves and doubt our own parenting, we are not present with our children. We are but walking anxiety-ridden parents, in our own heads instead of in their world of wonderment. To those of you out there who are trying to potty train early, or push to have your preschooler read, fearing they will be left behind, remember to be present, let go of the outcome, don’t rush what will unfold in front of you if you simply trust staying present.

I’m thinking of what a school staff member said to all of us middle school newbies during orientation. “You don’t have to walk them in. They will be fine if you drive up and let them walk in themselves.” Are you kidding me? I have walked her in for six years, and now I have to be banished to the car? Yet another one of my tears falls on this little face next to mine.

“Mom, are you OK?” reading me like a book.

“Yep,” I reply, as I straddle the middle place, where you’re still holding on to that slow fade of childhood, and bracing yourself for the ride of your life through tweenhood.

Then I remember what my friend said: Stay present. I get out of my inner doubt, my questions of what if’s and I should have’s and squeeze her still very small hand three times for “I… love… you” and tell myself stay present. She squeezes back four squeezes like she has her entire childhood…”I …love…. you …too” and there we lay in that sacred, rich place of an irreplaceable parent-child relationship. If I had “shoulded” myself much longer, I would have missed it and this transitional moment would have rushed by me unnoticed.

So here we go tomorrow, pushing each other out of our comfortable nests of security, wanting to fly but not wanting to take the first leap of faith. Whether I walk her in or watch her walk away from the car I will just be present.

– Kerri Cheney, MS is the clinical supervisor and therapist at YouthZone in Glenwood Springs. YouthZone helps families and communities raise great kids. For information visit http://www.youthzone.com or call 970-945-9300.

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