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?