For the Love of God, What is Even Happening Right Now?

When You Have No Idea Who Your Children Are

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Photo credit: Me

I’ve been a parent for two decades in which there are two angles I view this from. The first, I’ve always done what I believed is the right thing. I pride myself on this. The second, how the fuck have I survived for two decades?

Over the course of years people have often complimented my parenting skills, friends have come to me for advice, family members have claimed I handled raising my children with grace.

The truth is, even after two decades of experience I’m still winging it. What parent isn’t? It’s challenging to truly know who your children are nowadays since they change every 45 minutes in efforts to keep up with what’s trendy.

When children are little they’re cute and fun. There’s moments when you feel an overwhelming sense of admiration, I created this perfect person. There’s also moments when you think, shit, I shouldn’t have turned my head for that one second. Now I need to take (him/her) to the hospital to get stitches.

Kindergarten comes and you finally submit to the sleep deprivation and revert back to your own childhood days when you hated being forced to take naps. Except now you’re like, Thank you, Jesus!

You may even be motivated enough to brush your hair and change out of that pair of sweatpants you’ve been wearing for the past five years.

You’re excited by the excitement your child expresses when they arrive home from school each day with pictures they colored of you. You don’t even care that you look like an oblong headed alien with raisin size eyes and a gigantic forehead. You got to take a nap.

Middle school years seem like a breeze compared to infant, toddler and elementary school age.

The young adolescent years aren’t all that bad either, but they do have their moments. I was a young adolescent once. I get it. It’s a time of self discovery, expensive clothes you have to have that your parents can’t afford and you’ll die without, shoplifting packs of gum and making life long friends, and some friends you’ll realize the following school year really gross you out. It’s the one chapter in our lives when we have the security of home while experiencing the exhilaration of our own freedom.

And then, puberty.

Time passes and before you know it you’re living the worst possible scenario. Your children have transformed into teenagers and here you are left wondering, Who are these people? and, did I do this?

Your straight A student turned lazy is now struggling to get through his/her senior year.

“You’re in the home stretch, kid. Get to it.”

Then there’s the discussion of a gap year where we just cannot agree. He voted for right after high school. I voted after college.

“At least if you have a technical or associates degree first you’ll have something to fall back on in the event you need to fall back.”

“Just let me do it, mom. If I fail I can come back home.”

“Well son, that’s what I’m trying to avoid.”

Teenagers are a magnet to every fucked up relationship choice humanly possible because no one is more appealing than the bad guy boyfriend or the control freak girlfriend. Don’t fret though, you’ll be there to pick up the pieces, for the next 20+ years.

Then there’s the moments of breakdowns and fits because they have no idea what they want to be when they grow up. Settle down, kids. I had no idea what I wanted to be until I was 40 years old and now I want to take it back.

When your 16 year old threatens to move out and/or do whatever they want when they turn 18. It’s unfortunate you have to wait two years to see whether or not they follow through with their threat.

Then there’s the, “I’m going to live with you until I’m 65!”

“No. No you’re not.”

There’s the quiet moments when you’re sitting on your back porch breathing in the alluring view of the sunset over the pond when you catch yourself obsessing over who spilled the tattoo ink all over the original wood flooring in your 100 year old house.

As it turns out, no one spilled it. Huh, so it’s just there?

The morning you wake up to all four of your car windows left down during a thunderstorm.

“Feeling too emo to do your chores, kids? I lived through the Breakfast Club era and my chores are done.”

When they demand their independence yet you still have to wake them 72 times to get up for school.

Who took my hair brush, pants, jacket, cellphone charger, tablet, shoes, notebook, headphones, makeup and lamp, et cetera?

“Not me” or, “I was going to give it back.”

The one thing never missing? Cleaning supplies.

Oh yeah, and the empty box diet. I wasn’t really hungry, anyway.

When you say you’re going to sleep for the night they think that’s code for blast music so loud the house shakes.

Or that one time when you caught your daughter hanging over the ledge of her third floor bedroom window smoking a cigarette.

“Why do you have to be such a helicopter mom?”

“Uh, I’m totally not the problem here.”

As parents we do our best to instill values, morals and life skills in our children so they’re able to leave the nest and live a happy, healthy and successful lifestyle. During the process there are bumps in the road where we have to ask ourselves, Is this even working?

The only hope we have is the fact that someone had once done the same for us and that worked out okay, right?

The most irrational bit of parenting is that regardless of all this you love each and every moment and when the time does come, none of it will matter because you’ll miss them.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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