This Summer, I am observing that I have a tendency to be anxious about my role as a mother. This feeling is rather new to me because as the mum of babies, toddlers, and young children although demanding, I felt relatively sure about what I was doing. During the last two years, however, I have become more and more worried about not having done the right thing until now, not having made good enough choices that affect my children, not giving them enough, not giving them the right upbringing, etc.
Needless to say, it is quite tiring, and I must confess that all these worries and anxieties do wake me up in the middle of the night sometimes. My latest anxiety has been the summer break. My husband and I decided not to plan any trip abroad partly because we didn’t want to have to deal with COVID-related complications during a possible trip, partly because we didn’t plan economically for it, and partly because we love spending the Summer in Norway. It is the best time to be here for us because we like riding our bikes, hiking, orienteering, bathing in lakes and the sea and lately, my husband and I have become more and more interested in learning about edible wild plants and mushrooms.
Our plan was to visit my husband’s family that we don’t meet very often in the south of Norway, stopping on the way to make it a bit of a road trip, and maybe spend some days in the mountains in the end of July. The road trip was very nice and spending time with family is always well-spent time, especially for the kids. After ten days, though, we drove back home because our cat was home alone, and although she was being fed by friends and neighbors, she is not used to us being away for long periods of time.
This Summer, the weather in Trondheim hasn’t been great, so we spent some time doing some home improvements, I finished some sewing projects, and we managed to take some trips to the forest too. One of my daughters and I have been also bathing quite regularly even though it is a bit cold.
Our youngest daughter is very social and has a couple of good friends in the neigborhood with whom she has been spending a lot of time. We live close to the sea, and close to a farm, and they spend their days visiting the sheep, visiting a neighbor whose dog just had puppies, and when the weather allows, at the beach.
Our oldest has had a less exciting summer, I think, and maybe that is where my anxiety comes from. He is sixteen and at what I see as a crossroads. He will start High school this Fall, and he is a bit in limbo for the moment. Not much to do. Not many friends to hang out with since some are traveling and others are busy with other friends and/or family. Although I do feel for him, I also think this is quite normal. I also went through a period like that when I was around his age.
So, why my anxiety? Well, it has taken me quite a few days to sit down and write this in my journal and realize that my worries are unfounded. It sometimes seems like ‘everybody’ travels abroad at least once a year in Norway, but although it might be true for some, it is not everybody. And why is traveling abroad better than enjoying time together in nature? Or with family? We made a choice not to travel, why spend time stressed questioning a choice I can’t change now? We do try to give our kids experiences. For us, developing awe, love, and respect for nature has been important. Not to mention joy in simple things.
Maybe what is important to acknowledge here is how everything is in constant change. Our oldest and youngest don’t share the same interests with us anymore. Thus, they don’t always want to join us for our hikes, and they might complain if we insist. But hey! that’s partly the job of a teenager, isn’t it? So why do I torture myself like this?
Being a teenager is going through so many changes, but being the mum of three teenagers also requires changes in my mindset and attitude. I realize that I try to be everything for my kids because that is what I was when they were younger. I don’t need to do that anymore. I just need to be a clear, steady, and reliable adult for them. They might not always like my choices and my ideas, but that is part of allowing them to become more steady in who they want to be. I can listen to them, and we can start making projects together instead of my husband and I deciding for everyone, but I most probably won’t always be able to or even wish to do as they want.
So, to reduce my anxiety, I need to be steady in the choices we make as the adults in the family and accept that some or many of them won’t necessarily be popular among the teenagers in the house.