Webster's New World Dictionary's definition of the word modulate: 1 to regulate, adjust, or adapt to the proper degree 2 to vary the pitch, intensity, etc. of (the voice), often specific. to a lower degree 3 Radio a variation in the amplitude, frequency, or phase of a wave in accordance with some signal. I think this describes the effort of mothering perfectly.
As my girls are entering and in the midst of their teenage years (11 and 15), I find that it's often hard to know which way to turn the dial on mothering them. When they are small the dial is set on high in terms overseeing their, well, everything.
As they grow, we work on teaching them to be responsible for themselves. This is where the modulating gets interesting. Since responsibility occurs with kids in varying degrees, it's a challenge to, as the definition above suggests, regulate and adjust the amount of direction and support to give kids and in what sort of pitch and intensity of voice. That's a nice way of saying how many times do you have to repeat yourself? And are you able to maintain a calm and patient tone of voice or have you finally lost your mind and your yelling like a woman on fire? The best part is when the kids act like they have never met you before and have no idea how you got into this state.
Remember when all our parents had to do was give us a telepathic look of their directions? And if we somehow missed that message a smack would bring it all home for us. Ah, the good old days, pretty low impact on the parents. When did the rules of engagement change? Because today's kids are definitely not afraid to engage. When I think about it more, I guess this is what it takes for kids to learn to survive in today's adversity. They have to try it out in the comfort of their own home so they're prepared to take on the world. I've decided that kids have to take a swing and hurt you so that you can coach them on the protocol of avoiding that in later life with others. No matter how you embrace the logic, it hurts and sometimes you feel like you're sporting a shiner!
Number 3 in the definition of modulate surely applies to living with a teenager (or pre-teenager). It's all that it implies about the variation in the amplitude, frequency, or phase of a wave in accordance with some signal. Guess what? YOU DON'T KNOW THE SIGNALS! Major league baseball pitchers and catchers have better signals. One minute you can be having a perfectly fine conversation about something and the next thing you know, it's taken a turn, to a place where you are an unwanted stranger. With no warning, you have become someone who is asking too many creepy, ridiculous questions. If you don't walk away immediately, it becomes an argument. The best thing to do is remind yourself that you have many people in your life who enjoy your company and yes, respect you.
It sure is about finding the sweet spot on the dial. Because when you do, it's sublime. The love and joy you feel for your children is unparalleled.
Buckle up Buttercup, because it can go from the sublime to the ridiculous in 2.5 seconds. It's like that old show The Wide World of Sports, where the skier slams into the wall and the announcer says, "it's the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." It's all that and more and yet, we wouldn't trade the experience of raising our children for ANYTHING. It's what we were born to be, what we are grateful to be...parents.