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Friday, November 4, 2011

Old Parent Syndrome

I think we have it, my man and I. We're not exactly "old" - I'm in my very very VERY early 40s and hubby is in his much much LATER 40s but we have contracted the syndrome, nonetheless. We can often be found parenting our sweet little Ezekiel more like grandparents than parents. I had my first baby in my early 20s, my second baby in my mid 20s and adopted for the first time in my 30s. I was one organized, scheduled, chart-keeping, line-in-the-sand drawing Mama. My children were on a fairly rigid schedule of chores, homeschooling, extracurricular activities, one hour of TV a day (or less), healthy snacks and almost no computer access. Fast forward seven years and three additional kids later and you'll see us slightly off script and some loose ends getting looser as the days go by.
Here is quantifiable evidence that we have The Syndrome:
1. Ezekiel's bed time is often 10pm, or later
2. Our teens are allowed to watch shows like "Family Guy" and "The Office" that had formerly been completely off limits
3. Some nights when I make dinner, there are no vegetables (unless you count ketchup)
4. A productive day of homeschooling is marked by a little reading, a little math and the baking of cookies with my younger children.
5. I let my youngest two wear costumes in public anytime they want. Why not?
6. I rarely say "no" when they ask for treats at the check-out counter these days.
7. The kids are allowed to wrestle, jump from high places and ride on the dogs until I just can't stand the noise and have to yell "QUIIIIEEETTTT"
8. I am typing this post while Ezekiel jumps on the bed beside me and any feelings of annoyance at this fact evaporate when I look at his "Downsy Goodness" (a phrase we use often to refer to his shenanigans).
Maybe I'm confusing "Old Parent Syndrome" with "Big Family Syndrome" but whatever the ailment, I hope there's no cure! I am having the most fun with my family and feeling the least amount of control freak-ism that I have ever felt as a mother and wife! It's fun. It's freeing. It's contradictory to the early years but the results are equally gratifying. We are truly enjoying these children - me for the first time in my mothering career. I spent a LOT of time dissecting the hearts and motives of my two biological children and focusing on their LACK rather than finding ways to enjoy their gifts while still guiding them in righteous living when they were small. I did have fun with them. I always loved them with every ounce of my existence but as far as enjoying them, it was hard when I spent so much time feeling like any failure to address their sin would result in their eternal damnation. I have come to understand that parenting is discipling. It is a weighty task, not to be taken lightly but at the same time, it can be joyous, abundant, silly, fruitful and productive. I wish I had learned earlier to seek joy, welcome fun and buy more candy!!!!!!
Live and Learn.

5 comments:

  1. Love it! We are in the bigger family/older parent syndrome for sure! Poor Bess suffered the most from our only child/younger parent nonsense. We are having a much better time and I often hear my younger parent friends say things like "You let Dan climb that high?", "Do you know Gabe has an ax?", "Wow, you let your kids make a huge mess.". I like to let my kids experience life...it is way too short for anything else. My motto these days..."Hang on and enjoy the ride!".

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  2. Nikki- I am definitely an older parent too...and I so enjoyed this post because it made me feel so typical!

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  3. dennis said recently, "people should wait till they're too old to have children before trying to raise them..." and it's so true! good post, as always!

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  4. I wish I'd figured all that out when I was parenting but then again I stopped at 2. So maybe it just comes with time and more kids.

    Really enjoying relaxing more as a grandparents and also in Sunday School etc.

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