Thursday, February 9, 2012

"I'm sorry you weren't born stupid" Means I Love You

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When you look at your life as a parent you’re sure to have moments of pure joy and pride. Those days when you realize your children are the only ones in the restaurant that aren’t acting like complete assholes will validate your excellent parenting skills. Your little prince or princess is probably even going to win an award or contest, and you’re going to think to yourself, “Up your nose with a rubber hose, Dr. Spock!”

As with any job, there will also be days when you just want to throw your hands up and say, “Screw this place! I am out, bitches!” You know that, by law, you can’t just run away, but it sure as hell seems like a viable option at times. I’ve been told you can’t just drop them off at a hospital, firehouse, or police station in Nebraska (anymore). Hitting the kids is WRONG… and tiring… and wrong.

I don’t mention it often here, but my daughter suffers from a rheumatoid issue. She has for years. What the very first doctor offered as a diagnosis was JRA. Years later, the diagnosis was less clear, but her ANA levels were once again off the charts. She’s not handicapped. She can walk, talk, get in trouble, and do all of the other things that everyone else does. Unfortunately for her… she has a life of constant ache bordering on pain. What does this mean for her future? Not much more than it means for her present, aside from the fact that employment will mean a desk job.

Suffice it to say, when she informed me that she had decided to skip a semester AFTER having been accepted to college, and then opting out AGAIN for the second semester, well folks… Momma got a little bitchy. After all, what sort of job do you get without an education if you intend to make enough money to support yourself in the lifestyle to which your parents have allowed you to become accustomed? I attempted to be supportive in her decision. “Why go to school if you don’t know what you want to do only to end up with a ton of student loans and nothing to show for it?” I thought.

The longer I waited to see something resembling a life plan developing in the heart of my little princess the more frustrated I became. “What is she doing with her spare time? One of her friends had a baby. Jesus, she had better not plan to get knocked up. An MRS degree isn’t a reliable back up. Should I be that hard ass Mom that tells her 18 year old to go to college or move out? What do I do now?”

I have tried every approach to parenting I can think of. I’ve been doting mom, understanding mom, guilt mom, angry mom, and lately, bat shit crazy mom.

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You may recall my post from Saturday, wherein I blew the cover off of Milk-Gate 2012. Last night I decided to take it to an entirely different level. I’d been home, taken my son to work, worked out, did laundry, picked my son up, and arrived back home again… all before my daughter made an appearance. You might think I was “laying in wait” for the poor little gazelle to walk near the kitchen, and I was. I invited the poor unsuspecting creature into my lair. “Come into my parlor.” Said the spider to the fly…

Her- Thanks for hooking me up with this job, Mom.

Me- Yeah, we should talk about that.

Her- Oh, okay. What’s going on?

Me- Tell me what you want out of life. I mean, aside from a life wearing a headset. You know that’s what your future holds at this point right? It’s either going to be “Do you want fries with that?” or “Thank you for calling ___. How can I help you?” Considering you can’t stand for more than 5 minutes straight without pain, I’m betting on customer service jobs where you can get yelled at all day.

Her- (rubbing her temples and looking irritated)

Me- Say something please.

Her- I don’t have anything to say.

Me- Yes, you do. If you didn’t have anything to say you wouldn’t be biting your tongue or rubbing your head trying so damned hard to shove it down. So what are you passionate about? Where are you going to go with this life of yours?

Her- I don’t have any passion. I am not interested in anything. I don’t have anything to say because it all just sounds stupid and you’ll tell me what I’m saying is wrong and what is the point?

Me- (voice raised) I will tell you where your calculations are off. I will tell you it’s a stupid answer if it is in fact a stupid answer. I will push you until you find the fire to say what you REALLY want from life instead of avoiding all decisions because you’re too scared to fail. So let’s have it. Give it a try. (walking closer and closer and closer… then reaching out and pulling her hands from her head) Scream at me. Show me that there is SOMETHING in there.

Her- (tears)

Me- You’re not stupid. I’m sorry you weren’t born stupid so you could have an excuse for giving up on life, but I guess I failed there because you’re not. Too bad for you. That’s got to suck, huh? Being smart must be really difficult for you when all you want is to “be”. (yelling now) YOU ARE NOT STUPID! YOUR BOYFRIEND IS NOT STUPID. STOP BEING SO SCARED OF BECOMING MORE THAN YOU ARE WHEN YOU SIT ON THE COUCH AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES!

Her- How about this then? I just want to tell you I want to be left alone!

Me- Then get a better job and move out because while you live here I will expect you to pull your weight. You don’t get to slack off. This isn’t the summer after graduation anymore. And another thing… how many days do you think will go by with me telling you that you don’t need to paint the dining room before you wake up and realize I am looking for you to show some initiative and PAINT THE DINING ROOM?!

Her- I didn’t know you wanted it painted.

Me- Right, I just like the color of the blue painters tape contrasting against the chair rail.

Around this time, her boyfriend and my son wandered into the kitchen. As I put a few items in the sink her boyfriend said to her, “Your Mom should record these as parenting tutorials on YouTube.”

“Why? So other people can show their kids and say, ‘See… I’m not as bat shit crazy as this girl’s mom’?” I said.

“No, you’ve never met MY family. You are inspiring. It would be good for kids to hear it.” He replied.

“Go ahead… mock me.” I shot back. “Paint the dining room.” I added.

I still think he might have been mocking me, but I ended the night feeling different about a lot of things. Maybe she is at the point where I need to walk away. Maybe I am at the point where I need to walk away.
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What was your departure from the nest like? Were you shoved out or did you jump? 

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