You know those posts about how social media can be very misleading, because people only portray the best versions of their lives? Well, I hope it's true. I hope that somewhere, there is some parent having the same crisis as we do. Because if not, that is really demoralizing.
Our main problem is this: homework. It is a weekly, if not nightly struggle. For E, everything is a battle: remembering assignments, gathering supplies, starting an assignment, organizing his work, completing the assignment in a timely fashion, and finally, turning it in. If at any point in the sequence, he comes across a bump in the road, the whole thing has the immediate, explosive potential of a toddler in a candy store at 9pm on a Sunday night.
And this is where I feel alone.
I've almost always felt rather like a trailblazer in my peer group as far as parenting my beloved, precious, firstborn child. That's what teen pregnancy will do, kids. No one else has kids the same age as you. But I have never felt the lack quite as poignantly. I guess it's just never been this...hard.
Funny thing to say after surviving a breakup, college, medical school, marriage, residency, and the birth of a second child, I know. But I feel more emotionally and physically drained by my 12-year-old's English project than by my 3-year-old's hour-long tantrums.
This is exacerbated by that all-encompassing morass of rainbow-flavored minutiae: Facebook. I am Facebook friends with several parents of children the same age as E, including some whose kids go to the same school. We aren't close friends, not the sort who bemoan our work problems or sisters' boyfriends over brunch on the weekends. So all I see of their lives is what seems to be an unending stream of positives in their preteen parenting journeys: volunteering, marathons, first dates, daddy-daughter dances, standardized test scores, sports trophys...the unending ways in which a child's life is marked as a success, and by which the parent, as a result, is successful. My feed is jam-packed with parents of infants and toddlers seeking parenting support and advice. But once your kid hits a certain age, you're supposed to have this all figured out, and the parenting community clams up.
I'm not looking for parenting tips. The Internet exists for a reason, and any number of resources are mine at the flick of a finger ("OK Google, how can I help my son remember to turn in his d*** homework?"). I've looked at this from so many angles ("Homework didn't used to be like this!" "It's a learning disability" "He'll grow out of it" "We're helping him too much, he needs to learn how to fail"). I am perfectly capable of figuring out a plan and following through. No, I'm looking for support. For people to say:
Man, homework is tough, and my kid has trouble sometimes, too.
My kid is such a smart alec; we keep having to take away phone privileges.
That project last night was really hard on our family, and I'm not looking forward to the next one.
My child is terrible at sports, I dread going to his games.
(The above examples are not all accurate representations of my own situation, so don't judge...)
The living, breathing supporters are out there, but it feels like a freaking unicorn search: my one actual friend who bears the whole burden of my agonized complaints; my mom, who I'm not even convinced ever did have these particular problems...yeah, that's it.
Most nights, like tonight, we are fine, as we discuss genetics calmly, and review algebraic equations with no tears (child or parental) involved.
But, once in a while, it'd be nice if people said what was the truth about life: that it can be hard, but that's OK. Because we're all in this together. Somewhere.