Parenting is so F******G hard!!!
Posted on October 09 2019
You would never guess this post from that photo. NOPE.
Today I was tested. And I pretty much failed.
My almost teenage son is at that age where he just knows everything. Half the time he is the sweetest most loving boy, and the other half, he is possessed by the hormonal devil determined to get a rise out of everyone. It was a hard day.
Today I experienced what my friend Debbie calls “Lettuce.” When her kids were young, she made tacos one night. A piece of lettuce fell off one child’s plate onto the floor. And as if in slow motion, the boys witnessed this happening, and just ignored it. And Debbie lost her fucking mind. It wasn’t about the lettuce of course. But everything before the lettuce. Every forgotten worn sock, every dirty dish left thoughtlessly for her to pick up, every unkind word said in teenage irritation, every thank you that was not spoken and every drop off and pick up that was just taken for granted. It was not about lettuce. It was about a mother’s love and sacrifice living invisibly among her children.
And so, lettuce happened. Today was my lettuce.
In that moment, as I freaked out about my son being late for pick up after asking me to come get him and then putting his headphones on while I was talking (mom he said, the sound was off) WHATEVER!!!!! Anyways, in that moment all I could think of was the endless days of staring into my newborn baby’s eyes filled with every great wish and hope for his future, his razor sharp tongue seemed impossible. How can they be the same people? How can this partial adult be the same child I cradled in my arms night after night?
We drove home and I lectured, I threatened to take away all his things, all his freedoms. I did what parents do when they get unhinged right? The grounding. The laying down of the law. The I WILL SHOW YOU WHO IS BOSS diatribe. We got home and he rushed off to his room, I think confused and worried about what would happen next. I sat in my car and wept. I just sobbed. I wished for my mother so I could ask her what to do? But she’s not here and well, I am 39. I kind of need to figure this shit out.
Truth be told, I don’t think we ever figure anything out. It really is just treading water the whole time, jumping from maybe to maybe, hoping the lily pad doesn’t give way and drop us right into the river, so we can get soaking wet to climb up and repeat. I think I’ve been living under this illusion that everyone else has things figured out, and I am the one playing catch up, pretending I’m a grown up but really, I’m like a 15-year old waiting to get caught playing house with her boyfriend.
But the more I step outside my closed insulated life, the more I see others just like me. Parents who are just as lost, just as clueless, just as confused and scared about tomorrow as I am. We don’t have the answers, but we do have the guts. This whole business of rearing adults to ready them for the future is a giant task. I know I thought my parents knew everything, but even now my dad will be the first to admit he knew nothing and just hoped everyday he would do the very best he could to keep us safe, alive, warm and fed.
Today wasn’t a great day, on a dime it went from awesome to absolute shit. I faced the reality today that this is not going to get easier.
I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. I kept hoping some magic words would inspire me and wipe away the fight and we would both be healed. But instead, I sat with him and cried. I told him the truth. That in 5.5 years he would be on his own, a man in the world! That all this would be behind him and he would wish for the days of someone telling him what to do, waking him, feeding him, keeping him warm and safe. That these lectures will turn into mantras he will repeat to himself when he feels alone or uncertain. I reminded him, that no person on earth will ever love him the way I do. A mother’s love has no competitor. I told him I wasn’t the enemy, that I am his biggest advocate, biggest fan, LOUDEST cheerleader. But I shared that my greatest wish for him was to choose kindness not because he risked losing his gadgets and privileges if he didn’t, but because he knew it was the right way to be.
And as I sat there weeping, my 12-year old son tenderly took me into a hug and held me. He said he was sorry for hurting me and he would work on it.
I guess that is all we can ever ask for right? That the people around us try and do their best to be better tomorrow than they were today. That we can extend mutual forgiveness for our transgressions and commit to love first and learn from the past but not dwell in it. Today sucked, but I also feel like today I learned something, and I hope for my son’s sake, taught something.
Parenting is hard. But just remember, even people who seem to have it all together…….