Independence Day Posted by Hallie S. on Jul 3rd 2019 Ready, Set, Don't Go Welcome to July, peepers! I have to say it has been a whirlwind of activity at chez Schu. Graduations, grad parties galore, family visits, family vacations, jobs, joys and jubilation. For the most part that is. Suffice to say that the month of June flew by with a flurry of fun and momentous occasions and I am happy to say that we conquered. And that it’s over and we are moving forward with our eyes fully focused on settling in to a summer routine. And I am also settling in very unsettled to a new kind of normal in my house. With a 20 year old, an 18 1/2 year old and a 16 1/2 year old, I am being body slammed and slapped upside the head with independence. The quest for more freedom, less rules, more “I know what I’m doing” and less “Mom, I need you’s”. Unless it’s for making sandwiches, breakfast or protein shakes - then they ‘need’ me all day long. Yes, their desire to be free from the iron tight grip of Mommy Dearest is like a raging wildfire and no amount of tears, threats or stomping my feet is doing much to change it. And therein lies my post. With Independence Day knocking on our door, what better way to commemorate the holiday than with a theme of independence. Because it feels at times as if I’m been at war with an army and lord knows the three brats that share my last name and my DNA can go to battle with the best of them. I do gather some comfort in knowing that I’m not alone and so in honor of all of you parents that are knee deep in the trenches with me, losing the battle but hopefully gaining inches on the war - this one, my peepers, this one is for all of us. Definition of Independence I hit up my good gal pay Merriam to see what she had to say about independence and by definition, independence is the quality or state of being independent. Hmmmm. Well, not good enough for me. So I took it a step further and that’s where the money was. Independent is defined as not subject to control by others, no requiring or relying on something else and, my personal fav, not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct. Merriam obviously has been spending significant amounts of time in my house because that is currently the very definition of my life with Schu trolls right now. But wait…it gets interesting. It also says that independent is self-dependent. And self-reliant. Oh and self-sufficient and self-sustaining. Correct me if I’m wrong but making sammiches and protein shakes and doing their laundry does not exactly scream to me ‘self-reliant’. Jus sayin… And it really hit home with me. We spend vast amounts of time as parents longing for the days when they are more independent, less needy, more dependent on themselves to get the job done and in turn, we claim a bit of ourselves back. Some of our own independence starts to sprout a new bud or two and life becomes a little bit easier on mom and pops. Freeeeeeedom, right? Not so much. To fully understand, let’s take a hop, skip and a jump and look at the real deal of independence through the growing years. For you parents of littles, this is a must read as it will open your eyes to how grand life is right now. Independence Through The Years We will start at the beginning and work our way up. I’ll keep it short and sweet, I promise. Newborn to Elementary Let’s face it - newborns are super boring for the most part. Not to take anything away from new parents out there so chill. I’m just saying that newborns are pretty much about bodily functions and human basics. We long for the smiles and the coos and the independence of them being able to start to communicate and interact with other humans. Then we long for them to crawl. Babies get heavy and it’s cool when they’re mobile. Until they start to crawl and put everything in their mouth. Then we long for that independence of let’s get them walking! And then they fall and bump their heads and can reach things they shouldn’t reach. And put vast amounts of things in their mouth that don’t belong there. And soon they can talk and they repeat everything - especially the flavor words that we think they don’t hear. Talking leads to tantrums because they can’t articulate or regulate their feelings or their needs and they want what they want when they want it no matter what. I have currently digressed to being three all over again. And those glorious pre-k years. Thank the lord for Pre-K! Those precious two and a half hours are like dollops of whipped cream on apple pie and you live for those precious couple of days of freedom to do whatever it is you want to do. And think - wait til they are in school full time! Oh the glory! We cry for a day or two when they get on the bus (some of us for a brief moment and they are tears of JOY) and before you know it - off to middle school we go! Middle School to Graduation Oh the lovely middle school years. Some of the best years of my life. Said no parent EVER. All of sudden our happy perky kids turn into moody ogres overnight. Growing pains, mood swings, changes in friends happening like changes in clothes and changes in clothes happen multiple times a day. Their independence is pushing at the seams of their too small sneakers and presents itself in a myriad of emotions, none of which are all that pleasant and the dawn of ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ and ‘leave me alone’ breaks full and bright on the horizon. Awesome doesn’t come close. Things have a tendency to even out a little bit in high school - at least here they did. independence is a bit more dependent as they try to navigate being a small fish in a big pond. Lucky for us parents that independence comes back with a vengeance as they finish their junior and then senior year and jump head first into the shallow pond of adulthood, parading around on a raft made of arrogance and knowledge and barreling down the rapids of independence with no helmet or paddle or life vest. Super awesome. College Bound We endure the summer before college, reduced like a bad balsamic of worthless antiquated knowledge that has no relevancy in today’s world and look forward to and dread the day they leave. We preach and lecture about doing the right thing, the perils of drinking and never letting anyone get your beverage for you and not leaving a friend behind. We remind them that they are there for the education first and oh by the way do you know how much this is costing. We suggest to them that they maybe don’t need to bring all of that with them the first day of move in and then suffer through an excruciating ride in a vehicle that is jam packed with stuff that they don’t need and won’t fit in their room. But hey - they are calling the shots as independent adults, right? Don’t worry - all those I told you so’s that you’ve eaten or squashed get the opportunity to present themselves. Independence Education I have learned a lot in the past four weeks. I have had to change the way I do business drastically and I don’t necessarily look at that as a bad thing. Sharing is caring and maybe this will help one or two of you and save you some grief. And if not - Titos. Walk Away I am a tantrum thrower. I own it. I like to stomp around and slam doors and drop flavor words and threaten and raise my voice. And guess what - they don’t hear that. Or at least mine don’t. So I have had to learn to walk away. Table the discussion until (gasp) tomorrow. Love You's I say it all the time. Many times through clenched teeth and maybe with a visual of a finger wave at times in my brain but always with the thought that I love them so much. Say it. Even when they drive you up the wall and you don’t like them - love them and let them know it. Because that above all else matters so very much. And they need to hear it. Preach Baby Keep talking. And preaching. And saying what you have to say. Calmly and succinctly when you can but don’t stop talking because you think they aren’t listening. They are. And my rule of thumb is I don’t ever want to look back and say I wish I had told them that. Feather Pillow Be their soft place to land. Always. I don’t care how perfect your independent brat is they are going to mess up. Make a mistake. Fail miserably. And what they will need is not a lecture (until they are up and at em again and then you smack them with the lecture) but a pillow top landing. Be a safe place, a haven and make sure that they know it. Fake It If I had a nickel for every time they hurt my feelings - I wouldn’t be writing for a living. I’d be on a beach somewhere with my Rob and 100 puppies. Sometimes you gotta fake it. Pretend to like them. Because where you always love your children you will not always like them. Like the behavior. And sometimes you gotta fake it til you make it. And pray every single night that they end up with a child JUST LIKE THEM. Independence Chez Schu Like I said, it’s been an education here. I was prepared and completely unprepared for what the summer would hold. 20 year old girl brat is settling to just that - being 20. She’s figuring out that quality means more than quantity when it comes to every aspect of her life and she has some challenges ahead of her this fall. Her leadership is emerging and presenting itself and I have no doubt that this will be a life changing year for her and she will rise to the challenge of paying all of her own bills and embrace being NOT dependent. Okay - she won’t EMBRACE it but she’s going to do great! Like Father Like Son Man child a different story. He’s so hard and life with him has been just that - hard. He has taken to his independence like a parched man that crawled across the Sahara and fell into a pool of spring water. And I was not prepared. He has been so driven and so focused and so dialed in on his goals for so long and to see him let his hair down and be 18 - neither Rob nor I were prepared. What has been the hardest is seeing the two men in my life go head to head - neither realizing that what they stand to lose is monumental. A man that has been in your corner and always had your back. And a son that thinks the sun and the moon rises and sets on your shoulders. What is great and not so great in each of them individually is mirrored in one another and as much as it causes me worry, it also brings me comfort knowing that he is his father’s son. Oh and boy-man whom I’ve lovingly nicknamed ‘The Mouth’. He has changed so much. He is pushing at being independent and I’m-sorry-you’re-only-16 goes over like a lead balloon. He is out-earning the other two and has learned that having money is the bank is great as long as he can spend it on what he wants to spend it on - nothing foolish like books for school and clothes. Silly boy - what do you think you’re working for? He is chomping at the bit to pry my ironclad grip off his arms and I’m holding on for dear life til he’s 18. Independent Dependency It’s not easy - this whole letting go thing. We long for it our whole parental life in small stages and then when it body slams us to the ground, we give it the deer in the headlights look. It’s going to happen whether we like it or not and the very best thing we can do for our children and ourselves is let it happen. Find your boundaries. Remind them that you earn a reputation or you earn respect - which do you want? Speak your truth and hold them accountable. Love them when they are unlovable because they WILL be unlovable. Because at the end of the day, she is a little girl that called green red and red green. And he is a little boy whose best friend growing up was a black lab named Gunner. And him, he’s a son who completed your family and was the very definition of joy. As independent as they are, they will always need that soft place to land. Happy Independence Day, peepers! Thanks for being along for the ride!