Posts Tagged With: parenting

Mumsy’s Lament

Anyone who tells you that caring for a baby is the hardest job in the world hasn’t cared for a young adult.

That might seem like an odd opening statement, but stay with me here. I am in no way saying that caring for a new life, tending it’s every need, heeding it’s every whimper and seeing three o’clock in the morning, every morning, for what feels like an eternity is not difficult. It absolutely is, and I’m not planning on going back there, ever, but here’s the thing. Short of a serious health situation, when your child is young almost everything can be fixed by a cuddle and a bandaid. As Mother, you are fixer supreme of all things. Whether it be a scraped knee, a broken toy or a lost teddybear, they come to you all teary-eyed and snotty-nosed and they have absolute faith in your ability to make it better .. and make it better is what you do. The demands of parenting a small child are high, but for the majority of the time, the answers are easy. Not so when parenting a young adult.

I was what you might call extremely bloody lucky with my teenaged son. He never seemed to become a teenager, at least not in the same way that my wide-eyed, terror-stricken friends and colleagues spoke of. My son is self-contained, by which I mean he’s a hermit like me. I know that this is not necessarily something to celebrate, and rest assured that when he is called upon to be social, he does have the requisite skills. It’s just that he chooses, most of the time, not to be. Again, like me.

I have rarely had to deal with teenaged mood swings, door slamming or grunting. There have been no (known) issues with alcohol, drugs or law enforcement. He may have struggled, but he made it through school and he is (and I know I am his mother so no one is going to believe this is objective in any way, shape or form but I don’t particularly care) one of the coolest people I know. I told him he should put that on his resume. “My mumsy says I’m cool.” He thought that was funny, and that is why he is one of the coolest people I know.

Maybe it’s because for quite a large chunk of his early life it was just me and him against the world. Sure, I had family to help me, but I was a single mother, and we operated more as a team than a parent and a child. There have been times over the last nineteen years when I have had to pull on my parent boots, but for the most part we are a co-operative unit, and that is one of the things about our relationship that I most treasure. It also makes things difficult as he takes his first strides into the big, bad adult world.

I’m sure all mothers, or at least most of them, have trouble pushing their baby birds over the spikey edge of the nest and encouraging them to fly. Some more than others, (and I fall squarely in the first camp) do so with white-knuckled terror and against ever fibre of better judgment they possess. It is hard to step back and let go of their hand. It’s been hard enough to realise that hand isn’t little and covered in dirt and chocolate any more. I am having trouble finding where I end and he begins. I don’t feel irrelevant or unnecessary in his life. We haven’t come to that point yet. I just feel afraid .. for him and what challenges, fears and failures he may face, but mostly because I’m not sure that I have done everything I needed to do to prepare him for life as an adult.

My job as protector, comforter and supreme fixer of all things is over. I’m not sure what my role is now. I know that I cannot make the world work the way that he wants it to like I could when he was little. I know that I can’t spare him the hurts and hardships of reality. But .. I really wish that I could. Sometimes I wish that I could scoop him up, bounce him on my hip, pat him on the backside like all mothers seem to do instinctively even though no one ever taught us, sing him a little song and .. just for a little while .. make everything alright again. Make him feel safe and reassured in the knowledge that mumsy can fix it, everything is going to be alright.

But mumsy can’t fix it anymore. Now is his time. All I can do is something my Dad has told me ever since I can remember. “Pick him up, dust him off and set him back on the path.”. Harder said than done, Dad. Now I understand.

Categories: Things I Think | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ho Ho Humbug!

It’s easier to navigate the madness of holiday traffic, run the gauntlet of crazed Christmas shoppers and deck the bloody halls with gaudy baubles and sticky candy canes when you know that your reward for all that garbage is the pure, unadulterated wonder in the eyes of your offspring.

One of the truly beautiful things about having children is the opportunity to relive events through their optimistic, unjaded eyes. Once you are taller than your Christmas tree, that new perspective is what allows you to blinker yourself once more to the horrors of all that Christmas entails .. and believe again. Yes, that glass of milk and saucer of cookies really will help Santa to complete his epic global journey on Christmas Eve and yes, those scuffles on the roof surely must be Rudolph and crew coming in for landing. Everything is miraculous and wonderful again, and we see the hope and promise of our youth once more, reflected in the shining eyes of a child.

When your children inevitably stop caring about how Santa gets into the house when you obviously don’t have a chimney, and that withered old Tannenbaum with the broken plastic limbs wrapped in tired strings of tinsel and festooned with decaying decorations finally gives up the ghost, the joy of Christmas evaporates once again. Your children now tower over the tree, and they know the contents of each brightly wrapped parcel underneath it because they picked it out. Now you are left with only the threadbare reality of the commercialized birthday celebrations of a man who you never really believed in in the first place. Basically it’s now just a whole lot of work, and a whole lot of cleaning up.

No matter how many bells you jingle or how many singing angels you hark, you can never recapture it. As Christmas passes from being the most anticipated and exciting event in our young lives to merely an annoying parade of television commercials and battles over whose family to eat lunch with, it gets more and more difficult to dig up any scrap of Christmas cheer at all. Harried and mostly meaningless gift buying, hours of cooking and the requisite stuffing down of far too much food, and decorations that will stay up until April because you just can’t be bothered getting the ladder to pull them down have replaced that simple wonder we all felt once upon a Christmas morning.

This year I have not enjoyed the process. I have purchased gifts for those I love but not because I saw something and thought, “Oh, Person A would LOVE that, I must get it for them.”. No, I purchased gifts because someone somewhere told me that the 25th of December is the day that I must give said gifts to my nearest and dearest. My son knows everything that is wrapped and waiting for him, and there will be no cookies and no milk for the jolly fat man this year. I will not be grateful for the hazardous travelling, the sullen arguments nor the copious amounts of cleaning up. What I am grateful for is my family, and I do not need some arbitrary date or some ill-conceived gift to show them how important they are to me.

So, for all the lucky ones out there who still get to enjoy Christmas through the eyes of their children – enjoy the hell out of it. It doesn’t last forever and one day you will be as cynical as me. Terrifying thought, isn’t it?

Categories: Things I Think | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

100words entry – A Celebration

We sit in the crowded restaurant, sharing a simple lunch of celebration. Raising our voices above the din, we discuss the events of the morning; at ease now that the anticipation is over. This will not be an end to it. There are four more to come, and after that, many processes to navigate. We are on our way. He is confident and smiling. My son. My proudest achievement.

I walk with him through this time of change, and do all that I can do to bring him through unscathed. I walk with him until he must venture forth alone.

100 Words is about capturing life on a daily basis, then examining those days across a period of time. All daily entries must be 100 words in length. Not “approximately,” not “almost” — but exactly 100 words. It may be arbitrary, but it’s not unimportant. 
Find out more here.

I write | I knit I draw | I make jewellery | I photograph

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Wipeout is for Wussies

I have seen the mad traffic junctions in Hanoi, Vietnam and I have witnessed the crazy intersections in India, but neither thing can compare to the lunatic asylum that is the gaggle of mothers who hit the roads at 8:30 am every day of the school week.  Red-faced, pajama-clad woman with tangled, matted hair and a backseat full of petulant children battle each other to be first to the gates. They are viscous and merciless, ignoring road rules and *lollipop ladies alike in their plight to deliver their offspring to school by the designated time. This is bad enough, but it’s only the beginning of the fun. Between the kids on bikes and skateboards weaving in and out of traffic, the cars parked on either side of what is a very narrow road and stupid, stupid drivers who should never be trusted behind the wheel of any vehicle, the trip to school each morning presents more obstacles to the driver than an episode of WIPEOUT, and that’s on a good day. Add a spot of rain to the mix and the chaos goes all the way up to eleven. (That one’s just for the Spinal Tap fans. I know you’re out there.)

This morning I had the questionable pleasure of watching a clumsy youngster tumble over the handlebars of his bike and land directly on the road in front of me. Lucky for him, my brakes are pretty decent. Even luckier for him (considering the time of the morning and my absolute lack of caffeine) my reflexes were pretty decent too. In case you’re of a sensitive and tender disposition, let me assure you that the kid wasn’t injured. That being said though, I’m pretty sure the collection of giggling girls surrounding him did very little for his bruised ego.

Tomorrow is my son’s last official day of high school. It will herald my final run through the gauntlet of mad mothers in the morning. It brings to conclusion thirteen years of deranged dads in the afternoon. Oh, the driving I have seen during those years, and the foul language I have hurled in earnest. I have cursed the pulling out without looking and bemoaned the stopping dead without warning. I have enraged the dour lollipop people with my too loud music, and irritated the old people pottering in the garden next door to the school with my general irreverence. I’m sure they won’t miss me at all, but I will miss them. There’s a real sense of achievement to be had in the successful navigation of the daily school run, and I am just a little bit sad that after tomorrow, it will be no more.

In truth, I’m probably more sad that this part of our lives will be over. No more school runs means no more school .. and that means no more little boy. He’s a young man now, and even though I could not be prouder of the young man he is , I can’t help but miss the little boy he was, and I can’t help but question my changing role in his life. Before I get too serious and sad though, I can take comfort in the knowledge that he has inherited my irreverence (and probably my loathing for the lollipop guild), and he promises me that no matter how grown up he gets, he’ll always be my little boy.

I’m gunna hold you to that, kid.

* I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not like those people. They are like sinister clowns with the power to control traffic and I don’t trust them.

I write | I knit I draw | I make jewellery | I photograph

Categories: And So It Ends, Things I've Seen, Things That Annoy Me | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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