Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Message to the Mommy (and Daddy) Blogs: They get older.

I do this thing where I look at my kids and kick my ass for not being a better parent. Some of you might be familiar with the process. The moment they do something amazing you think, "Wow, they are so much smarter than I was at that age!" It's as if you are incapable of giving yourself any credit for them turning out with a single brain cell, let alone the ability to use those brain cells to do awesome things. It's chalked up to pure chance.  Still, the minute they do something you really wish they hadn't or you see another child in the same age range doing something your child isn't but you know they're capable of you think, "I suck as a parent." 

Been there and done that. Most of us with kids past the toddler age have. Things haven't always been easy at our house. At times life is still a pain in my ass. At least once a week I ask myself,  "How many times do I have to take away their belongings before they realize that I'm not f*cking joking around about the picking up after themselves gig? Apparently quite a few. Perhaps my laziness in the beating the kids department is coming back to haunt me. Instead I've just decided to live the high life and leave them with nothing so they can see what they would have if they bothered to help out a little. I buy things that they don't like, but I do. I go places they don't want to go, but I do. When they wonder why we have no money left for Ramen noodles I'll simply say, "Well if you'd have done the dishes we wouldn't be here would we?"

It obviously hasn't been all bad. There are things I have done right. Both of my kids have managed to make it through life without being malnourished. This is not to say my cooking is stellar, but it is. We only use box dinners on mommy doesn't want to cook nights (we don't have shitty meals if I am eating too). Neither of the kids has been arrested or pregnant (especially Jacob... he's 100% impregnable). Both kids know how to use the washer and dryer as well as the vacuum. Aside from that, they both have a wicked awesome sarcastic sense of humor. 

So anyway, I always wonder if I've been the world's shittiest parent. Fortunately there is this thing called the Internet that allows me to find far worse examples of parenting than I could ever accomplish. I mean, it's not like I put my kids in the dryer...

Okay, so maybe the one time I did. 

Regardless, they have managed to make it pretty far considering my cooking, lax parenting, and the pressures of modern society. Last week my son turned 17. He hugged me today for making lasagna. Today my daughter turned 20. She hasn't spoken to me all day, but she did text to ask if everyone else was done taking showers so she wouldn't steal all the hot water. It's the little things, right? 

But this is my blog and we're going to talk about how this shit pertains to me. Let's not forget what's important here. 

1. I don't think I look old enough to have a 20 year old child. At the very least I don't act old enough. Hooray for immaturity!

2. I made a cake for my daughter today only to realize I'd failed to make a cake for my son's birthday last week because I was out of town. In order to be fair I decorated the cake for both of them and then forbade them from eating any of it. 

3. It's nearly my moment of escape. At this very moment I'm burrowing under the walls of my life and leaving behind a fall-out shelter of life wisdom for the kids when the inevitable happens. I'll be setting off some TNT in the tunnel behind me. 

Recently a friend and I were discussing parenting and the average woman's desire to pop out 12 kids. I stated that most women didn't want to become a baby factory, even in past decades. My friend quickly pointed out that I was not qualified to give input because I "didn't want the kids I already have" and was "already counting down the days until my youngest leaves so I can have a life". 

The last part of what he said was pretty accurate. I do long for a day when I can plan a life of my own without worrying about my kid's school and visitation schedules. The other part seriously pissed me off. It culminated with me pointing at him, in a public place, and stating quite matter of factly, "You do NOT get to talk about my wanting a life of my own. I have been doing this alone for well on 13 years now. YOU have never given up a day, let alone a month or year, of your life for another person." 

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm supposed to be that mother who agonizes over the fact that her children are going to leave the nest. Perhaps I'm supposed to spend the next few years of my life giving my youngest everything that he wants, regardless of what he deserves, in order to make myself feel better about the big day. That's not me. 

I'm always there for my kids. I will always be there for my kids. However, being a mother does NOT make me a slave to their lives. So for all the mommy or daddy blogs out there... don't be afraid. The whole process is going to be comical, tragic, happy, sad, momentous, and all the other opposite adjectives you can think of. You'll always have plenty of fodder, but do not for a moment doubt yourself when the day arrives when you really think, "When is it my turn?" Don't hate yourself for making a calendar and marking the days off with a big red X. We deserve to have a fantasy life, even if the fantasy is not doing any one's laundry or leaving the country. 

It is okay to hate yourself if you hang the calendar in plain sight (the kitchen, front door, living room, your child's bedroom door, etc.). That's just uncool. The rest is okay. 

One down. One to go. <3

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