Are you singing the Middle Grades Blues? You’re not alone.

Last month NPR posted the story, Being A Mom To A Middle-Schooler Can Be The Toughest Gig of All. I nodded my head. Finally, the research is in. Finally, the science backs me up: Parenting tweens is the worst.

As a mother you’re supposed to be a cheerful Hallmark card bestowing boo-boo healing, kisses and wisdom and cake (and I do do these things), but as your new “Middle Years” columnist and Mother of Dragons (oops, I mean tweens, 9 and 11), I say let’s deal with reality. The gig is hard. Parenting tweens is the hardest thing you’ll ever do mental health-wise in your maternal lives, moms, and it’s not a bowl of cherries for dads.

We must gird ourselves.

“Many women assume that the first year of motherhood is the most precarious time for their mental health. But a recent study published in Developmental Psychology find that maternal depression is actually most common among mothers of middle school children as they catapult into the tween years. …Mothering a tween is harder than mothering an infant.”

Have you found this to be true? I have. The DMG (the depression of the middle grades) has been ratcheting up in my life as my children grew up. I was not rolling with The Change in my life that was their adolescence. It’s a time of natural independence, growth. I missed my baby-powdered babies. I missed dressing them in adorable overalls. Also, I was going through peri-menopause myself. I was Hormonally Deranged.

So when my eleven-year-old told me I smelled, instead of not taking it personally, or finding it funny, I took it as poison arrow. Straight to the heart. I cried. He used to tell me my armpits smelled fabulous, “like a princess, Mommy.”

How had I gone from princess to offensive to the senses

It takes a village, as they say, to raise a child. It also takes a village (a resourceful, innovative, caring, smart, spa-like village where you can put refreshing cucumber slices on your eyes) to raise and support middle-grade moms (and dads). This blog is that village.

As Yoda would say, “Cling to these things we must.” We can do this.  Loving parents are resilient creatures who can sing new songs besides, “How was school? Did you feed the dog?” [Enough with the pestering questions. Here are some other ways to connect with your tween.]

We can eventually heave the deep sigh of relief that is getting through this stage and having fully-fledged teenagers. Ha.

So join me to here once a month on the blog, Mothers of Dragons, and share the latest research for best practices for parenting tweens, and tips for taking soul-care of ourselves and maintaining a sense of who we are and our hope and good humor while we do it.

Elizabeth-Bastos

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