The Parent Hood

Dear Teenage Daughter

I see you there.

I see you struggling to find yourself. To find your place. To deal with the cavalcade of emotions that assault you daily. With the confusion of growing up. With your parents’ divorce. With navigating relationships and responsibilities and life.

I see you, and I remember.

I want to help you, but please know that my help won’t come packaged the way you think it ought.  I do you no good, in the long run, by pandering.

I will stand strong in my place as your mother. I will share with you the wisdom I have gathered along the way.  You will often scoff at my wisdom but it won’t stop me from sharing it.  You will know who I am, how I am, and where I stand.

I am not without compassion or empathy, but I will not bend to your will.

I will love you regardless of the arrows you shoot at me, for I know you are dealing with hurt yourself and I am a convenient and safe target to lash out at. Part of my job is to know when to keep my mouth shut when you loose your arrows on me.

You should know those shots you take hurt. They leave me in tears and temporarily incapacitated, questioning my parenting. But I don’t serve you by being weak and allowing your teen angst to leave me questioning what I know.

Here is what I know:

I am a strong woman, and I am raising you to be a strong woman.

A strong woman is clear about who she is and what she will and will not stand for.

Because I am a strong woman, I will protect you from certain truths about your parents that you do not need to know.  You think you know enough about things to make judgments about me, about our situation, to pick a side, to draw conclusions. You don’t know nor do you ever need to pick a side. You can choose both sides. Furthermore, you never will know these things because I am your mother and it is my desire to protect you from some truths, even if doing so leaves you judging me more harshly than you otherwise might.  I do this for your own benefit, as a good parent should.

I am not without flaws and shortcomings. I have made many mistakes along the way. But I am no victim. A victim stays down. I do not, nor will I ever. Every single time I’ve been set back, whether due to my own blunders or through the fault of others, I have never failed to pick myself up and carry on. I have never abdicated my responsibilities. I have never not stepped up.

The only person I control is myself and I take that responsibility very seriously. My life is a series of decisions I have made, not I single one which I regret for I made the best decisions I could at the time based on the information and circumstances in front of me. I don’t control others, but I choose how I react and respond to them.  I am in the driver’s seat of my life and always have been.

So bring it. Bring your venom. Bite hard and let it seep into my bloodstream.  I am a strong woman and I will survive.  I will still love you. I will continue walking the high road in spite of this hurt.

One day you’ll understand, because one day you’ll be a strong woman.

I will help you get there with my strength. And on that day in the future, you and I will walk arm in arm, two strong women. When that day comes, you will understand what I did back when you were a teenager and why I did it, and you will appreciate it. You’ll seek my forgiveness for the hurtful things you did and said to me but you’ll realize you’ve had it all along.

Because I’m a strong woman and you are my daughter.

Love,

Mom

By |January 26th, 2017|Not even a little funny, The Parent Hood|Comments Off on Dear Teenage Daughter

Don’t Freak Out

Dex Easter for The HubShe wasn’t expected; she just arrived at my front door and said “Hey!” as she walked in like she always does.

She may be 30 but she’s my child and this was her house at one time and there is no need to knock. I’m glad we have a ‘just walk in’ house. I like that.

She was toting the car-seat carrier with the heavy sleeping baby as she breezed into the family room.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I have to tell you something and I didn’t want to do it over the phone.” she said. She was casual, setting the baby seat down and keeping busy with putting the diaper bag and her purse on the breakfast bar. She walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator looking for something to eat. I’m glad we have the kind of house where they just head to the refrigerator and look for something to eat. I like that.

She came out with some cheese and was busy breaking it into pieces and popping them into her mouth as she picked up the story.

“Don’t freak out.” she said. “Dex’s pediatrician referred us to a specialist and we just came from the appointment. They did some tests and we don’t have the results yet, but they think he may have some neurological disorder, a degenerative one.”

She was minimizing it. Her every action said “This is no big deal. We will not over-react.” but I’m a mother too and I know this child of mine and I know how strong the gene is to minimize something on the outside while you’re falling to pieces on the inside. That’s my gene. I gave her that gene.

While her actions belied the situation, her eyes gave her away and the quiver in her voice was, well, degenerative. She continued “If he has this, over time he will lose muscle control on half his body. His mouth will droop, he will list to one side, he will shuffle when he walks. He will drool a lot.”

She was barely holding it together now.

I didn’t hesitate. I used the only comfort that I am comfortable in giving, my words.

“Well, first of all, let’s wait for the results. But guess what? If he does have this, here’s the deal. That boy is the luckiest boy in the world because he will be surrounded by a huge army made up of the Metzler family and the Murphy family and the Doty family and the Hemenway family. This is where having a huge family of freaks comes in handy. That boy? He will be loved on and laughed with and laughed at and challenged and fought with and the only thing he will be allowed to feel amongst this crazy parade of freaks and weirdos is normal, because he will be.”

And I held her as she let the tears flow and hoped she knew that what I said was both wise and true.

I woke up then, the morning light creeping around the edges of the window shade.  I was shaking and crying myself, this awake me.  In the dream, I didn’t crack. In the dream I was strong and confident and wise but in the hangover of the dream I was shaken.

It was just a dream, I knew. But every aspect of it was so real – the house, the actions of my grown daughter, her mannerisms, the way the scene played out, all fresh and real in my waking mind.

I lay there and reveled in the wonder of my own imparted wisdom. Would I have actually come up with that in a real situation? Could I have?

I realized the mom I was in that dream is the mom I aspired to be, hoped I would be when called upon by a crisis.  It has a tiny element of the “Suck it up, Buttercup.” for which I am known, perhaps, but it had an emotional fortitude that I wasn’t sure I had a right to claim – that hasn’t yet been tried and tested in the real world.

My husband rolled over, feeling the bed shaking from my silent crying. I told him about the dream and said “That’s the mom I should be.”

“That’s the mom you already are.” he said nonchalantly as he wrapped his arms around me. He comforts with his arms and his empathy. I comfort with words of strength.

I hope that if the day comes when both of our methods to comfort are needed to face some crisis, our children feel the fullness of what the two of us bring to the table on our parenting journey.

As parents, we may list to one side and drool occasionally, but we love them and, in the end we all have a little bit of freak in us anyway.

I didn’t freak out. I came downstairs and wrote on my blog.

 

By |May 21st, 2014|Married Life, Not even a little funny, The Parent Hood|Comments Off on Don’t Freak Out

The Old Mother

momThe youngest in any family is often said to be spoiled.  There are many theories behind why this is.

Some feel the mother has pretty much just given up. She is older, tired. She’s done many years of parenting from the firstborn all the way to this last child and she’s just, well…. be right back. I’m going to take a little nap.  Keep an eye on the kid for me, OK?  I’m sure she’ll be fine – she’s practically raised herself.  I just need to rest my eyes for a minute…

Even if you practically sleep through it, still they grow up.

Another theory is that it’s not giving up as much as it is holding on, as if by holding on to the youth of your offspring, you somehow hold onto your own youth.

I was struggling with my teenager trying to clip the mittens to her winter coat, but kids that age are pretty damn strong and really resent having their mothers use them as a means of groping their ways through a midlife crises.  They’ll fight you on this.  They don’t need nor want to be treated like babies.  In retrospect diapering really was the easiest part of parenting, but remember – we were happy to leave that shit behind. Literally. Don’t linger here – it’s just creepy.

Try as you might to hold onto the days when your cherubic young ones needed you so, still they grow up.

Perhaps most of us old mothers have a little of the giving up and a little of the holding on within us.  There is a third theory, and it’s the one, in my opinion, that dominates why these youngest children seem a little more indulged than their older siblings were.

Perspective. 

The more years that have passed, the more perspective a mother gains along the path.  Not only have the children done their share of growing up, but so has the mother.

Perhaps she realizes how fast it goes and wants to worry less and enjoy more. Perhaps she has concluded it’s pointless to spend even another minute squabbling about how messy a bedroom is.  Perhaps she knows that a report card with a comment saying “She talks too much.” isn’t the end of the world, not even close.  Perhaps she is even amused by such comments these days. Perhaps she just doesn’t give a flying fu…  um, what I mean is perhaps she doesn’t mind much if the child doesn’t eat her broccoli. Let’s face it – broccoli is gross. I’m with the kid on this one.

Regardless of whether we’re holding on or giving up or have simply gained a broader perspective, still they grow up.

Still they grow up.

There we are, us older mothers, left wondering… what now? To whom will we be the answer to everything? Who will revel in our ability to put peanut butter and bananas on Ritz crackers and serve them on fancy hors d’oeuvre trays? Who will laugh at our stupid jokes? Think our stories interesting? Let us read them rhyming books? Who will think we’re amazing?

And just when we think that gap unfillable, they lay a baby in our arms and call us grandmother.

Lin and Dex

 

 

 

By |February 25th, 2014|The Parent Hood|Comments Off on The Old Mother