My baby girl is a teenage girl now

I started this blog in 2003.  At the time, my baby girl was a year old.

Seven years old
(She’s about 4 years old here.)

Here’s the first thing I posted.  (It’s kind of long, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable.)

Saturday, 11 October 2003
The beginning
Note: I created this site in October, but this was written last February.

February 8, 2003.

“I am the mother of boys. Three boys. The twins are almost 10 and the youngest is two weeks away from being five.

Before I had these boys, I used to think I would be a wonderful mother. I would teach the children to read and cuddle them in bed and tell them bedtime stories. I would prepare crafts in advance for them to do and allow them to paint whenever they wanted. I would bake them cookies and healthy meals and they would love vegetables. I would cheer for them and hug them and be a room mother and make sure their socks were really, really white. My house would be clean and tidy and ready for company at all times.

As it turns out, I am a horrible mother.

I hardly ever get out the paints. The socks are dingy grey because the boys like to play outside without their shoes on. The boys leave socks on the floor or on the couch and the dog carries them away in a wild running game outside. My boys have never eaten broccoli. They don’t like anything that has onions in it or anything weird-looking or suspicious or mixed together.

When someone calls and says they’re coming over, sweat glistens on my brow while I frantically run up and down the stairs, putting away clean clothes and carting away dirty clothes and putting the upstairs toys upstairs and the downstairs toys downstairs and plumping the couch pillows and picking up bit of paper off the floor and scraping toothpaste off the wall with my fingernail. Then I yell, “Why is this sheet coming off the bed?! I just put it on! You are driving me crazy!” (Which always reminds me of when S. was three and used to say to me, “You are diving me cazy!”)

I yell at my kids and they yell at each other. One of my boys is as snotty as I am. I never used to be snotty. I used to be quiet and kind and serene and self-controlled.

Now I occasionally slam a door in fury and fling my hands in the air and grit my teeth and say, “OH MY GOSH!” My husband looks at me and says, “Dear . . . ” as a warning, but that just irritates me more.

I promise that I used to be a sweet and gentle person. Then I had boys.

I am responsible for their dirty, ragged fingernails, their waxy ears, their unruly hair and their unmatched clothes.

“Mom, do you think everyone stands in front of their closet every morning and says, hmmm, what can I wear that will match?”  I just shake my head.

Their breath smells, one has body odor and they just don’t care if their hands are sticky. Their hair is sweaty from jumping on the bed. They use their shirts for napkins and their forks as shovels.

They wrestle.

They clomp down the stairs.

They play outside without bothering to step carefully around the dog poop.

They accidentally make each other bleed.

They scream at each other, they smack each other and they tattle.

They are not quiet. Ever. Especially on Saturday mornings. The only time they sleep in is on Sunday mornings, when it is imperative that we wake up early and get the show on the road.

At night they whisper and giggle and occasionally shout while they are supposed to be falling asleep. They complain about going to bed at 8:30 since kids in their classes stay up until ten. Or midnight!

They hate getting into the bathtub.  They don’t want to get out of the bath.  They splash water onto the bathroom floor.  They pee on the toilet seat–and the floor. They forget to flush. They forget to wash their hands but they remember everything they ever learned about Super Mario Party 4.

We tell them to go upstairs and shut their bedroom door and they forget to shut the door by the time they get upstairs. We tell them to wash their hands and they never even end up in the bathroom. They never comb their hair without being reminded.

Their clothes lay in a crumpled pile wherever they happen to disrobe. They don’t hang up wet towels. When they come home from school, they somehow step out of their still-laced shoes and leave them at the bottom of the stairs so everyone else can trip over them.  They drop their coats on the floor.

They cry sometimes when I force them to practice spelling words. They can’t remember their multiplication facts. (Well, the almost-5 year old is exempt from that. He somehow understands the concept of negative numbers and a few days ago had me chalk a hopscotch in the driveway that started with negative three and went up to eleven.) Neatness does not count, in their minds. They grip their pencils wrong. Their handwriting scares me.

I just wonder what I have done wrong.

I thought I’d be such a good mom. I was confident my children would be quiet and respectful and smart and good students and never sassy or snotty. They would want to follow my rules and my wishes. Ha. They are likely to put one another in headlocks, but they are not likely to smile and nod and do what I say without delay.

At nighttime, my patience expires about five minutes before bedtime.

They say, “We are still hungry, we are thirsty and can we please stay up until nine?” They forget to pee. They forget to brush their teeth. They forget to brush their back teeth. They need to go downstairs to find their blankets. They want to talk about their day.

I just want them to go to sleep. I want peace. I want quiet. Instead, I go back upstairs four times telling them to be quiet. Good-night, I say. GO TO SLEEP! No sweet bedtime stories and cuddles. I am finished with them.  I am no longer using my inside voice.

So, I am a mother to boys. Dirty, stinky, naughty boys.

But there is hope. Her name is Grace and she’s the reason I need the boys to be quiet upstairs! She’s just a baby and she’s taking a nap! Shhhhhh! I think I’ll be a good mother, ready for tea-parties and lace dresses. I’ll let her paint whenever she wants. I’ll let her help me bake cookies. I’ll never yell at her. Really.”

***

And . . . twelve years later, she is a teenager.  Her birthday was yesterday and she chose to have chocolate pie instead of birthday cake.  We brought her best friend home from school with us–they happen to share a birthday, though her friend is a year younger than my daughter.  They went to a trampoline park for a few hours with the friend’s mom.

Then I picked up Grace, bought her a Subway sandwich and took her to youth group where I’d already delivered a cake and balloons to surprise her.

After youth group (and after picking up one son from a woodworking class), we had Birthday Pie.

Today, I vacuumed up all the confetti in her room.

I’m getting old but she’s just getting started . . . life is inevitable that way.  I guess I won’t be a perfect mom, but I think I’ll be an excellent, quite possibly perfect grandmother.  Just wait and see.

(Oh, and on Saturday, we celebrated by seeing Taylor Swift in concert.)

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My baby girl is a teenage girl now

3 thoughts on “My baby girl is a teenage girl now

  1. Vivian says:

    A beautiful story and i “know” all your children feel the love of their mothers hand. God was so gracious to give you these wonderful memories and wonderful children!!!

    Grace is a beautiful girl, happy birthday Grace!

    Like

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