I was thinking this morning about running and metronomes; that rhythmic quality of running on the pavement or around the track is like a metronome set to a certain tempo; steady and going at the same pace, reassuring in its steadiness and how we can speed up or slow down to match the metronome. Unceaseless and rhythmical and the source of strength and rest.
This, to me, is so much like parenting. We need find that authentic heartbeat, that authentic pace, and be able to hold it steady when the times of development and changing and growing in our children is not so steady.
When older children and teens are ready to spiral out of control, we are there with our authentic selves, and holding that authentic pace so if they are trying to speed so far ahead or so far behind, we can reach down and gently whisper, “Stay with me for a little while.”
When do we lose our pace?
When we become overwhelmed by our own baggage and our own triggers and our own emotions and our own lack of self-care. I admit it has happened to me so much over the course of parenting! I used to feel ashamed. Why is this triggering me? Why am I so frustrated with this particular piece? But I don’t feel ashamed of it anymore; the longer I parent I can separate myself out of it all, the longer I just hold that it will all work out, the more I know my children have their own journey and their own work to complete that is not my work.
And then it came to me…
I am the metronome, but what am I set to?
Inner work and the work of grace.
I am married, so hopefully I am set in time with my spouse.
Can I keep the pace myself and not forge ahead with a clash of emotions? Can I keep it less about me and more about just the gentle pace of growing up, the pace of our values as a family, and less about the tiny situation at hand? The big picture is calling and the tiny details of today’s scrabble must not get in the way.
Parenting older children is tricky business. No one can really tell you how to do it as every family is unique and every child develops at a different time and pace, even if following along in a general way the developmental and archtypal patterns we have come to recognize that are common to children everywhere.
Development matters. We are having an amazing discussion over on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page about parenting the 9-12 year old, and so much of it has to do with when the developmental changes (and on what scale) these changes hit.
The reality is that all children eventually grow up, so changes will come, even if not at the standard times. And every family is different, so it may look different. All we can do is be the steady pace, the gentle guide, the wonderful whisper of ease for those children who are finding no ease in the moment.