I’m not great mother. Hell, I’m probably not even a GOOD mother. I have four pretty cool crotchfruit but absolutely no idea what I’m doing when it comes to turning them to adults that will eventually become productive members of society.
When my first child was born, screaming her head off, I was bewildered and confused. Women are supposed have an INSTINCT to care for these things? I was relieved when they whisked her away to the nursery and slightly traumatized when they made me sign a bunch of discharge papers a few days later. I glanced over things like, “if your uterus falls out, please return to the emergency department immediately” and “squirt water on your asshole several times a day to ease the horrendous pain caused by shitting a human out of your no-no square” and went straight to “if the baby is not eating normally please call your pediatrician” (uhhh, what’s ‘normal’ anyway?) and “if your new vagina trophy turns yellow you need to go back to the hospital” (wait, my kid could change colors? Is that permanent?) and “if your nipples are especially bloody, you might expect black stool from this parasitic hellion intent on ripping the damn things off.” (Try some lanolin cream. It won’t help, but slather it on there anyways.)
I signed where I was supposed to and started crying.
“What’s wrong?” my husband asked, carefully strapping our daughter into the car seat that the hospital staff had approved.
I shook my head, mostly because I didn’t know where to start. My aching boobs? My crocheted nether region? The fact that I’d delivered a 7lb infant but had gained three pounds instead of losing…any? My roadmap of a deflated stomach? Or the fear-based knowledge that this tiny girl strapped into her brand new five point rear facing harness was my responsibility.
Somehow, I managed not to kill her. Then I had another one and experience dictated that I could handle that shit like a boss, so I didn’t freak quite so hard when they sent us on our merry way but I couldn’t find ANYWHERE in the papers where it offered a resolution to “When your first kid tries to feed your newborn a piping hot slice of pepperoni pizza you should…”
We figured it out. Had a couple more, because, why not?
Giving birth is easy. Babies are precious. Toddlers are the devil incarnate, but they say funny things and look really cute. Then they grow. And grow. As they evolve and change YOU evolve and change because from that moment they laid that bloody, alien-esque creature fresh from the womb up on your chest the very fabric of your being morphed into something new and strange.
Now I’m raising three teenagers and a tween. I’m still married to the guy who helped me make them so it’s a team effort, but he works long hours so most of the toilet clogs and tears and slammed doors and mysterious eye shadow palette disappearances are up to me to solve.
Guess what. I still have no idea what the actual fuck I’m doing.
I do have a few rules.
- My children are not allowed to have devices in their rooms or behind closed doors.
- No Snapchat. Yeah, the filters are cute. The fact that sexual predators use the app to abduct ignorant spawns and sell them into slavery is not nearly as adorable.
- If I deign to cook a meal and you bring a device to the table, that device belongs to me for the foreseeable future.
- Don’t be an asshole on Instagram (if you’re one of my LadyTips) and Don’t Have an Instagram At All (if you’re one of my manspawns).
- I don’t give a shit about your privacy if you lived inside of me.
Hell…this list goes on and on. The general theme is “Don’t attempt to live your life through filtered social media. There is no substitute for real-live interpersonal interactions. And whatever freedoms you are afforded are subject to revocation if it pleases the Queen.”
They’re smarter than us, y’all. Always a step ahead. And they do unspeakable things with technology.
Sometimes I think my diligence is because I am married to a cop. The insane shit he sees and deals with daily almost ALWAYS involves Facebook or Instagram or some fucking text message. Most parents are too ignorant to understand that the interwebs are molding and forming a generation of humans who are incapable of existing somewhere other than behind a screen.
I gave up a lot when Rah-rah came wailing out of my mimsy. The f-word wasn’t one of them.
Like I said…I’m, at best, an OKAY mom.
- My kids say “fuck” sometimes. They swear a lot. The apple doesn’t fall far.
- 90%+ of the time I have a yeti tumbler filled with wine. Especially at school functions. The rest of the time I carry my Jesus Water in a Starbucks cup, but it’s always there. Always.
- I don’t volunteer for a goddamn thing. I don’t participate in fundraisers, either.
- I don’t go to parent/teacher conferences unless I’m specifically summoned. And if I am, I always bring my yeti and/or Starbucks cup.
- I lock my bedroom door, primarily to commit the sexuals but sometimes when I just want to get the hell away from them.
Recently I did a Random Device Check (which is where I basically snatch a phone or something from the hands of a crotchfruit when they least expect it and if they resist all hell breaks loose and they end up using smoke signals or a tin can with a string as their primary means of communication for the foreseeable future–like I said, Shitty Mom) and discovered that Snapchat was installed and had *wait for it* 23 notifications.
“OOOOOH, JUICY!” I breathed, grinning wickedly.
Rah-rah burst into tears. And rambled into some ridiculously long-winded explanation about how it was her only way to communicate while we were traveling and blah, blah, blah.
I turned off her phone and took a bite out of my caramel apple.
“MOM,” she wept pitifully. “I’m really sorry.”
“Me too,” I said simply. “And I still love you. But right now I love this caramel apple more. Because this caramel apple didn’t defy my wishes, and holy shit, it’s GOOD.”
She got pissed and snapped, “I GUESS IT’S JUST MY JOB TO DISAPPOINT YOU THEN.”
I stared at her. “Then you deserve a fucking raise, Princess.”
This is not the first time I’ve caught her doing something she knows she’s not supposed to be doing. It won’t be the last. It still smarts sometimes…that she thinks my purpose is to destroy her dreams and squash her freedoms. It’s exhausting to hear how So-and So is allowed to do whatever they want with THEIR phone because their parents TRUST THEM. Maybe it’s just something they leave out of those initial discharge papers on purpose because if you knew the rest of your life would be like taking a fucking test that you didn’t study for and no one knows the answers to but everybody wants to grade you…you might not be as willing to carry that carseat filled with precious cargo home with you.
My kids love rollercoasters. I like rollercoasters, I suppose, but I also enjoy not vomiting so I don’t really enjoy the ones with loops. Over the summer we went to an amusement park and we waited in line forever to get on this epically thrilling, supposedly loopless ride.
Rasslin was my riding partner. “Are you okay, Mom?” he asked as they strapped me down.
Rah-rah looked back at me. “You good?” she smiled.
“Not great”, I thought, “but I’m fucking committed at this point so let’s get this shit over with.”
The attendants checked everyones restraints and the operator waved his hand and the Train From Hell started gently clicking up a huge hill. I saw Velvet close her eyes and grab the bar across her lap. I smiled weakly when Rah-rah glanced over her shoulder and gave me a knowing wink. We crested the top of that mountain, and I watched that little girl who burst into the world, changing my life forever lift her arms in the air and her face toward the sky and embrace the feeling of flying as the world fell away.
Me? I just hoped that damn seatbelt would catch and do its job. I survived. Barely. Thanks to that freaking restraint.
As we pulled back into the station, my Ladytips jumped off the train and said “That was AWESOME, let’s do that again!” and Rasslin said “Hell yeah! I’ll go with you! Come on, Mom!”
“I think I’ll sit this one out,” I replied, clutching my stomach a little. My equilibrium was still somewhere dancing along the atmosphere of that first death drop. They ran back to get in line while I found an ice cream cart then a bench in the shade.
And I realized something huge. Rah-rah, my thrill-seeking, fun-loving, back-talking, rule-breaking, smug-looking-hill climbing girl wouldn’t have enjoyed that ride nearly as much if that lap belt had failed to keep her in her seat. If it hadn’t clicked, assuring her safety and she had ridden up that first treacherous hill knowing she was about to fall to her death, she wouldn’t have liked it at all. She trusted the engineers who made that ride and the operators who secured her safety and she had a great time roaring through space so much she couldn’t wait to do it again.
I’ve said it before and it’s worth mentioning again. I’m a mediocre mom at best. But I make one helluva lap bar. Sometimes I think about that young woman years ago, with her legs splayed out and her trembling arms wrapped around this brand new life entrusted to her…filled with ideals and hopes and fears…and I wonder at how much she’s changed. What she didn’t know then was that she’d never be the same.
Maybe one day…she’ll know she passed the test.
But in the meantime, she’s holding on for dear life.