Face it with a grin

My sister came from Seattle to visit for a week.

No one mentioned the whole “May Gray” thing that apparently happens here in May.  “May Gray” is another way of saying, “Your Sister Won’t Get a Tan While She Visits”.  As soon as she left, the sun began to shine as if in apology or mockery.  I’m not sure which.

The San Diego sunshine is obscured too often during May by the marine layer that blankets the coast and sometimes spreads to those of us without an ocean view.  And then, after San Diegans barely survive the treacherous cloudy skies in May,  along comes “June Gloom,” which means more of the same stubborn marine layer which may or may not burn off.

Oh.  I’m writing a post about weather.


You know what I’ve been thinking about?  I’ve been thinking that being a parent is hard.  (Understatement of the century.)

I used to think it was hard because it involved wiping runny noses and changing disgusting diapers and sleeping in increments and ear infections and scattered toys everywhere, but now I think it’s hard because being the parent of a teenager (or three) is so much like riding in a car, sitting in the backseat while someone without a GPS or steering wheel drives like a lunatic.

The lack of control is so much harder than dealing with two-year old tantrums ever was.  (That is no comfort to parents of two-year olds and for that, I apologize.)

Obviously, I can’t discuss identifying details or situations or anything that would make you widen your eyes and form judgments.  That would just be rude.  But I can say that I often feel like I am failing as a mother and that I never should have signed up for this job.  My feelings have little connection to reality or particulars.  They are more of a free-falling anxiety, plummeting toward earth much like that woman who slid out of her harness during a tandem jump from an airplane.  (Did you see that footage?)

I remind my kids a lot that they are only in charge of themselves.

I have to remind myself that I really only get to live my own life.  At some point–at this point–I have to step back on the curb and let them walk on without me.  They get to live their own lives, make their own choices.  I just worry.  Where will they go?  Will they make a wrong turn?  Have I prepared them?  Did they listen?  How many ways did I fail?  (Let me count the ways.)  Will they go?

I compare my private struggles with other people’s public successes and I wonder where I went wrong.  Jealousy flits around my head like a fruit fly I can’t catch.  (Thank you, Facebook, for that.)

So, I can just say that I thought I was a pretty good parent of toddlers and preschoolers and elementary school kids.  The job was demanding and exhausting and stressful but now the antics of the barely coherent and preliterate look adorable and precious and why, oh why, did I think it was hard back in the day where kids napped and went to bed at 8 a.m.?

No one else I know with teenagers says these things.  I feel pretty alone.  I wanted to be a perfect parent, to do things right.  But how can you measure that without essay questions and report cards and feedback other than a surly teenager criticizing your skills?  All I want is the highest grade in the class and when it’s a group project, the chances of that are slim to none.

At least the weather is lovely here.

See how I tied that all together?

You’re welcome.


9 thoughts on “Face it with a grin

  1. You are quite the writer – tying things together at the end – just like the books on writing say to do.

    You have done well on SO many levels – quit worrying!

    Worrying is something your mother does. I own stock in the company – I’m president, and know how to do it. It’s my job.

    You just write. And we thank you.


  2. Believe me – I am saying all those things, too. Out of 4 kids – the last 2 have (are) giving me a run for my money. Makes me question every single decision I have made over the last umpteen (yes, that is an actual numeric calculation)years. Remember, I have a 19 year old – same as your twins. He gives me angst and heart palpitaions on a daily basis. Wondering when he will get it all together. He will get a job (with great help from friends of ours) only to quit when someone there doesn’t love him unconditionally like his parents do – he has done this about 3 or 4 times now. Makes me real worried that when he graduates from HVAC school in July, and the school helps job place him in an apprentice position somewhere – he will only keep that job for just so long – until someone there “corrects” him or whatever – then off he runs….wondering if we will ever get this youngster out of the nest and out into the world…Somehow the other 3 made it, but I have my doubts about this one. But at least it’s a nice, sunny day here, too!


  3. I say these things! At least, I think these things. I have become convinced that the reason we never hear these things from other parents of teenagers is because we’re all completely snowed under by all of it. No time or energy or willingness to be any more vulnerable than we’ve already been made to be by having these half-grown humans represent us publicly in this 24-7 world of Facebook that we live in. I have never felt so alone as I do with teenagers. I just keep reminding myself of how much I love them and I force myself to follow it up with kisses and hugs and great displays of physical affection that do not come naturally to me at all. And I remind myself that I am the adult and they still need my maturity to guide them. Ha!

    And I really do look forward to being on the other side of this. But most days I worry that life is just going to continue to get harder and harder.

    The weather is pretty nice here in Texas this morning too. Birds are singing and that makes me happy. And I am thankful for His many blessings that are new every morning.


  4. Well, I’m the parent of a teenager who has a lot of special needs. And yes, it’s hard. I say “Life is hard,” every other day.
    If you don’t have a Christian framework, you might as well give up. If you do, one foot in front of the other. Most things are temporary. God is here, and he will be there, in the future.


  5. Also, I’ve made mistakes, some pretty bad, unintentional, and not figured out till years later. It is a total waste of my limited energy to feel bad about it for long. Grace will have to cover it.


  6. This has been very liberating for me on ALL levels of coping with life since a friend in Australia shared it with me:

    99% of what we fret about never comes to pass. The 1% that does, we face it, deal with it, and move on.

    I wasted about 50 years of energy worrying about things that never happened. These past 8 years have been bliss.


  7. I say and think the same things.. I’m on my second set of teens.. step mother world can be pretty ugly. I just don’t post things on FB or on my blog much because I was criticized by a friend in a round about way.. she was writing to our other friend and complaining about me being negative about the 2 boys I’ve been raising the last 10 years.. who have a mother who lives 3000 miles away but is able to stir up so much trouble.. (oh yeah it’s a good idea to kill your stepmom and dad.. very well thought out plan) Anyway.. the friend accidentally sent the email to me.. It was incredibly hurtful and I thought you try it and see how it goes for you.. She has two girls.. one very successful and the other is disabled so she has her moments.. I also have a disabled daughter who lives on her own and is very independent.. I figured it was ok to vent a bit on FB and my friends would understand. Neither of the boys or their mom can see my posts.. I’m with you.. take it with a grin.. it will get better.. my three who gave me fits way back when are all wonderful, happy people with jobs, their own lives and success! It will come.. it’s just hard while you are going through it.


  8. Oh, you are not the only one– It’s just the the teenagers can read the blogs and they are on Facebook so I think moms are not writing about their worries much. Hope you can find some real life friends who will be the kind you can open up with each other– it really helps! (from a mom of 3 teens and an 8 year old)


  9. Before 8am this morning, I actually told my 3 teenage daughters that they were not allowed to do one more stupid thing for at least one hour. Was not my proudest moment. Grant it, I had not had my coffee yet. However, they felt so bad that 2 of them cleaned my kitchen and dining room and the other vacuumed and dusted the living room. I repented and hung the millstone back in the closet.

    I am going public with this just so you know you are not the only one…


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