You know how they say that after childbirth the endorphins take over your addled pregnancy brain and erase all of the painful memories leaving only the good ones so that you’ll be open to going through the ordeal again?
I think all of parenthood is like that. Amidst all the remembered joys of being a mom or dad are those times we choose to forget (or maybe block from our consciousness).
We forget how horrible it is to start breastfeeding or how it feels to live on next to no sleep. How disgusting baby poop 5-wipe emergencies are or how hard it is to get pureed carrot baby puke out of your clothes. How embarrassing mid-mall toddler tantrums can be, or how toilet training can suck out every last drop of patience you thought you possessed.
The wall-colouring, the mealtime travails, the playdates, the endless birthday parties. The nagging over bath time, teeth brushing, underwear changing. The goddamn reading logs and recorders and refusals to wear jackets, shoes, hats. The change rooms at the swimming pool, the sibling bickering, the snotty noses and the mistimed endless barfing. All.The.Barfing.
The bad behaviour. The destruction ADHD can wreak on your house.
We forget because the good times are so good and we love being parents and the hard moments don’t outweigh the ones that bring us joy (we hope). Anyways, it’s not like we can give them back when times get a little tough, right?
This special parenting hormone (let’s call it rainbow glitter) that makes us forget has to work overtime between the ages of 12 and 19. At this point, the purpose of the rainbow glitter is not to delude us into thinking more kids would be fun. No, it’s to keep us all out of jail or family court.
Because teenagers = infuriating hormonal monsters.
I had three kids in 5 years. The elder two are only 20 months apart and the last one arrived a cool 3 1/2 years (to the day) after his older brother. So my kids are spaced in such a way that I had the pleasure of two spotty volatile teens at the same time. And then just enough of a nice break for the rainbow glitter to wipe the hard times from my memory.
For Sky and Ben, the years between 13-17 (inclusive of driver training) were some of the most painful of my life. Oh, the INDIGNATION they displayed at my very (embarrassing) breath.
The saving grace throughout that time was our little darling baby boy, 5 years younger than his evil sister. His semi-compliant kid-ness and willingness to let me speak to him in public reinforced my feelings that motherhood was made for me, and I for it. *Rainbow glitter*
He turned 13 just as the others began to come out on the other side. Just when the previous 10 years began to fade into a colourful sparkly dream sequence of family dinners, movie nights, sweet smiles and unicorn rides.
The boy was still so sweet. He let me guide him and help him. Like be his MOM.
He didn’t slam doors. He didn’t storm out of rooms. He didn’t cry.
I didn’t even have to beg for this photo
He didn’t GET THAT LOOK ON HIS FACE. You know the one: You’re all idiots. Let me out of this zoo.
Fourteen came and went. We were still good. I think. The memories are blurry. Rainbow glitter, activate.
And then 15 and I was micromanaging him and never letting him do anything and I was treating him like a baby and wouldn’t I just leave him ALONE! The doors slammed, the stomping out of the room. THE TELL-TALE LOOK ON HIS FACE.
I’ve somehow forgotten what it’s like to have a 16-year old man-child in the house.
Damn rainbow glitter. I’m not prepared.
I’ve forgotten what the angry, moody, defiant, fighting-for-independence teenager is like.
I’ve forgotten how one second they’re all I love you Mommy and the very next it’s Do you think I’m a little kid? and How could you say that to me? and Do you think I’m dumb? and Stop asking me questions.
I’ve forgotten that however much you try to love them, they push back just as hard to see if they can get you to stop. And that in their baby-giraffe awkwardness there is beauty and excitement and an amazing grownup pushing it’s way out. Which they try to mask with their vile attitude and serpent’s tongue.
What I had to go through to get this photo
I look at his siblings and I know there’s hope. Sky—21 now—emerged like the Chrysalis, kind-hearted and rather pleasant be around, last summer after putting us through a cool 10 years of hell. Ben—19 3/4—generally even-tempered, gave us an early scare in 7th grade but by his 18th birthday was back to regularly scheduled programming.
I can imagine a world where three nice children (all taller than me, as most people are) not only accept my smothering Jewish love but embrace and appreciate it.
I can imagine it because I can see it on the horizon.
Two long years…Oh… Can I survive?
xoxo Mara #StayCool
PS No amount of rainbow glitter can block out what it feels like to teach a kid to drive . Seriously, worse than toilet training. Worse than sleep training. Worse than labour. Every time he asks if I’ll take him to get his permit I just get up and walk out of the room. Seems to be working says my friend the Centaur.