“It’s amazing how much ‘mature wisdom’ resembles being too tired.”
– Robert Heinlein
Having helped raise 7 siblings, I find my parenting energy petering out before my first born is out of the house. This, I realize, can be a good thing. At least today.
Today, I ask my son to develop a proposal for media use during the school year. It shows great wisdom that I let him make the plan rather than offer it myself because he is a teen who needs more and more autonomy.
But the truth is that the wisdom of my initiative-building request came by default. I was too tired of devising policy and policing it so I asked him to do it instead.
Another brilliant idea was to ask him to draft this proposal in writing because we always seem to argue later about what we agreed upon.
But once again, the wisdom of this request stemmed from my inability to remember as well as I once could, and my weariness of doing all the work around it myself.
Sometimes it seems like it was a bad idea to wait to have children until my thirties. Given the developing science around a woman’s brain at mid-life, it may not be wise to have children in the home just as a woman’s internal programming shifts from sacrifice to self.
But then again, maybe it’s a perfect fit for a mother of teens.
Kelly Salasin, August 2010
3 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Fatigue”
You write so well what’s in the life experience of a parent, especially an aging parent of an energetic teenager! I really related to being “too tired” to figure it out for the teen child. I am finding this natural fatigue at my age is a gift in disguise, it makes it easier to finally “let go” and let my young blossoming pre-adult children learn and grow from their mistakes (now ages 22 and 17).
It takes too much energy to be controlling and it never worked anyway!
Oh, it’s true what my sister-in-law once told me after raising 5 kids: “The journey of parenting is the journey of self discovery!”
Thank you for your blog. I’d like to put your blog address on my new brochure as a resource for parents. I teach parent workshops,etc.
Looking forward to hearing back from you.
It’s 9:30pm here in Los Angeles, so no doubt you are in a deep sleep in Vermont right now at 12:30pm.
P.S. I’m originally from Oregon and I miss the season of autumn even though I’ve lived in LA for 27 years. You must be seeing lots of fall colors now in Vermont. Hope to visit someday.
Kelly, Oh do I love that painting you’ve chosen — it says it all. You are a brilliant mom–and writer. I keep stepping back and asking myself, “What am I doing?” Usually, I’m doing something that my 17 year old should be doing himself. And I realize that I’m doing him no favors by continually “doing” for him. Good idea about the media policy; you have a much better chance of it actually working since your son created it himself.
Katrina, I agree with you totally. I do the same thing. I ask myself, “Why am I washing this dish that my 22 year old son just left dirty in the sink?” He just graduated from college and now is trying to find a job & living at home. How quickly I forget that he had been washing his OWN dishes for the past four years while he lived away from home! In fact, his roommates said he was the only one who would wash dishes when no one else would. (Maybe I need to tolerate a dirty kitchen a LOT longer to get him to wash those dishes.)
I guess old “mom habits” die hard.
It’s so automatic. They’re used to mom “taking care of it”. Sigh. I know, I started this and after all these years I’m probably not going to change it because, afterall, I like a clean kitchen to happen a lot quicker than they do.
I really like your idea to let your teen come up with a “media policy”. Wish I had thought of that. I guess it’s never too late. My daughter is a senior in high school, so I have a few more months to try some new techniques before she leaves for college. But to tell you the truth, my best bet may just be the “wisdom of fatigue” and let her figure it out on her own. Afterall, sometimes life is the best teacher.
And I need some rest…..