There are days in which the degree of highs and lows takes me clear by surprise. In my 40s, I increasingly rarely feel actual surprise. Disappointment? For sure. Disgust? Yep. A grim sort of foregone conclusion? Uh huh.
But outright surprise is harder to come by these days and is usually reserved for horrors like untimely death. Or the continued cancer of the current “president.” How that man gets grosser and grosser is truly astounding, but maybe that’s my naiveté and ever-hopefulness.
In any case, what I will say is that there are moments in which parenting cuts you off at the knees so brutally, so painfully, so egregiously, and so quickly that it takes your breath away. The method of harm, the size of the input force, is not directly correlated to the degree of issue or transgression; that, further, is part of the gasping pain.
I have largely stopped writing about parental challenges, recognizing that my boys, as they grow up, are more aware of what I do and share, more private and rightfully so, and more distinct as formed (forming) humans. Their voices are theirs; their lives belong to them. The space I have left as their mother, in terms of writing and public processing, is increasingly small. This is as it should be, in my opinion. What remains is MY experience as their mom, what I can capture as personal experience distinct from theirs.
This terrain is less charted with regards to the “mommy blog” and pediatric spheres. Sure, you have a general sense of tweendom, but each tween is such a unique being, interplaying in such specific ways with their hormones, family, peers, school, classes, personal struggles, interests, identities, and so forth. What you can expect at 12 years is infinitely more complicated, generally speaking, that what you can expect at 12 months. Perhaps this is actually what makes parenting adolescents so vexing: each of us is always dealing with a new challenge.
I’m actually not much interested, tonight, in delving into research or generalizations. What I am is tired and furious and in love and sad and over it. And tomorrow looms. And that stops for nothing.
What I want to say but am sometimes shy to say; what I think so many of us want to say but are loath to for a variety of reasons that irk the shit out of me, is that sometimes this whole parenting gig just sucks. It sucks and blows so hard that it takes my breath away and renders me speechless and pissed.
It leaves me having spent all day making a special meal to find myself standing in my pjs with the show I’d been wanting to watch all day on pause because a note from a teacher just came about a missed assignment that was now a zero and suddenly, everyone is screaming and in tears. Is someone kidding? It’s both real and absurd. It’s the complete opposite of how I envisioned tonight and so very much wanted it to be.
At the end of the day, the gumbo was one of the best I’ve made, and the fighting and crying probably made us closer, and that show isn’t that good anyway. But still. It all felt so damn fraught and not remotely easy and also not remotely efficient or timely, and seriously, WTF?
The gumbo was loved and there is more for tomorrow. The banjo was played, and lovingly so. The paper will be better, but still a deserved zero. The book remains forgotten at school for another damn day. The Bach on the piano is being studiously avoided. The wine bottle is less full. We are all tired. And maybe this is the best of family, and the worst, and real life. But sometimes I sure wish it was easier.