If you’re a middleaged woman and have teenage children, you may be in serious trouble. Please consider the following scenario, then read the questions carefully and answer to the best of your ability. Try not to panic until you’ve answered them all.
“Yes, Jim. The Queen of Europe. It was one really giant oligarchy…”
I submit to you more proof, if you need it, that it is the children in my life who have caused me brain damage and the inability to function like a contributing member of society. (Actually, shoot… since I came first, maybe I’ve caused them brain damage.) This conversation took place between Lizzie and my son’s friend, Jim, as I drove Liz to an evening event at school. (Note: Jim’s name has been changed to protect the “innocent,” youth. But Jim, you know who you are. You are not blameless in this situation, even though you often empty the dishwasher for me.) Continue reading
Quick background: Liz and I went for a drive today to listen to Disney music and sing (we’re actually both 6) when the song Under the Sea from Little Mermaid came on. In the song, the crawfish/lobster guy, Sebastian, is singing about his “hot crustacean band” and all its members. Liz heard the line “each little snail ear*, know how to wail here…” and she wondered why Sebastian is singing about snails’ ears. As a singer, she needed to know the truth about this – she might need the details for, say, a test in later life. In case any of you other musicians aren’t familiar with this obscure but important time in the history of music, here it is (as told by me to Lizzie via text):
One of the reasons parenting is so exhausting, in addition to all the usual running around, is that you’re giving your all (and then some) to teach your kids how to live. I was struck by this thought today: it’s all up to Paul and me. Yes, other people come into play: grandparents, friends, teachers, other people in the line at Starbucks. But for the most part, the shaping of their character — the teaching of right from wrong — is in our hands. With newborn babies, our main job is simply keeping them alive. But later on? You have to teach them how to be.
It seems we’re bombarded daily with inspirational quotes and mothering advice columns that encourage us to take time for ourselves by having a bubble bath or a massage. A bubble bath is nice on occasion, but I get bored in about 10 minutes, and personally, I find it comfier to read in bed with my seven pillows than in a slick tub. Also, bubbles make a scummy mess. And massages are great, but I need a LOT more than one hour to recharge. In fact, ever since the kids were born, I have felt guilty about how much time I seem to want (need?) for myself. Those encouraging articles always suggest taking time “every now and then.” But I want a chunk of time to myself DAILY. In fact, I want a regularly repeating bunch of consecutive hours to do what I want without guilt, without questions to answer or obligations to fulfill. And I finally realized why I need so much of this: it appears I have very few consecutive grown-up days in me before I feel myself reverting back to a kid again. I can’t help it. It’s just a fact. Continue reading
Have you ever felt like a total imposter? I have, so very many times in my life. I start a new job, feeling totally under-qualified, and pretend I know what I’m doing and hope nobody finds out how inadequate I am. It was even worse when I first became a mother: terrified, I’d make up rules that seemed completely arbitrary, and then second-guess myself about whether it’s the right way to parent. I’m always confused about what I should crack down on and what I should allow, and the line seems to be constantly shifting. And when I think I have a handle on motherhood, the kids get to a new stage and all the rules change again.