Backing Away from the Edge…
I am trying.
It has been a hell of a week. I don’t think I have been this emotionally distraught in a very long time. Thank you to all of you who expressed concern, offered support and reached out. It has been really hard and my ability to bounce back depleted.
I have spent the last two days at the beach which always brings me comfort. I run there because it seems that the ocean is capable of putting everything in perspective. Things are good, the waves come. Things are bad, the waves come. It is just life, one wave at a time. Sometimes those waves lap your ankles and sometimes they knock you on your ass. They are all still just waves. And I get to decide (most of the time) how deep I want to wade in…except on parenting. That doesn’t seem to be optional about my level of commitment…I am in deep and I know it.
This is why the waves have been so intense because I have been foundering in my ability to back to shore where it is safer. I have just been swimming in the ocean of my teens’ adolescence and it has been rocky, stormy and perilous. I can see now that refusing to get in so deep with them might help me feel a little less exasperated.
My friend Jayme said that I have to be the rock they break themselves against. And my reaction to that is “NO! I don’t want them to break themselves! I want us all to be happy and no breakage!” But she knows that which I am just finding out, that I have to be the strong one, I have to be the one to hold the no, I have to be the one that remains unmovable in a time of constant change for them. I have to be the rock and they have to break themselves against me because that is how they figure out who they are, what they are. And if it isn’t me that they break themselves against, it will be something else…and I believe that I am the better battering instrument than a court of law, an undertaker or a rehab. I don’t want to be…but I guess this is just another facet of parenting that I do not like.
They should really put more of this hard shit in the parenting propaganda that is everywhere. Sure they are cute little bundles of joy for awhile but they turn into these smelly, rageful beings that spew hatred at you while you drink your morning coffee. They break your trust, disturb your home and peace of mind. They lie to you and challenge you at every fucking turn. And they exhaust you. And it is hard. Every day. So fucking hard.
They do not put any of that in the parenting propaganda. No, what we get it more the 1980s Russian version of Cold War bullshit where you are promised so many things in life, while the world sits in limbo waiting for Reagan or Gorbachev to push the fucking button all while being told that it is a free world and everything is fucking awesome all while pamphlets rain down upon you telling you, reminding you that everything is fine and nothing hurts.
Parenting sucks. At least right now. And I have been overly emotional about it and thank everyone for checking on me. I was not ok. But I am now. I just needed to ride that edge awhile to remember that I really do not like heights and living that close to the edge makes my hands sweat and heart beat too fast. I am never climbing down from said ledge, because I like the view but I can take a few steps back where it is safer and less threatening.
My sponsor reminded me, again, like a lot, many agains, that I am not my children’s higher power. They have a God, whether they believe in it or not, and it is not me. I am mother. Not God. And while I can set limits, I can consequence the fuck out of them. I can yell, scream, nag, bitch and cajole my way through their lives, I am powerless to keep them on the planet. I am powerless to keep them sane and off drugs. I am powerless to really do much of anything the closer they move to adulthood. They are going to do a lot of stupid fucking shit that could have life altering consequences.
And while I know this, I have to say that I have a very hard time accepting this. I do not want to let go. I do not want to accept that they are going to do what they are going to do. I want to hang on, with a death like vice grip and make them bend to my superior will. So that they survive. They get to live. But that isn’t how it goes…the tighter I cling, the more they defy. It is just the way it is.
So I have to let go while still hanging on, which is a delicate balance that I suck at. I am so good with letting go OR hanging on, but doing both at the same time with two different teens…that is a very hard ask.
But I love them and myself so I try. And I fail. And I try and I fail. This is all I can do…over and over and over again. I will spend the rest of my days fucking it up and fixing it. And this reality makes me never want to get out of bed again.
While being a rock against which my children break themselves was never on my list of job titles or duties that I wanted, this is where we are. And I guess if I work hard at it, I can find some gratitude in that. I am grateful to be here with them. I love them with all that I am and know that even though they are total assholes often, this love I have for them is unchangeable. They are my everything and I am less and less their everything with each passing moment. And this is how it should be…
Motherhood gives us the delusion of God likeness. We are mothers and so paramount in our children’s lives for so long. We fix things, protect them, feed them, give them life from our own bodies. But they are never really ours, it just feels that way. We kid ourselves into believing that somehow all this mothering effort entitles us to something that isn’t really ours…them.
They are of us but they are not us. They sprung from our bodies, reside forever in our hearts and worry deep grooves into our minds but they were never ours. We are just entrusted with them, their raising, their care until they can take the laboring oar and begin to navigate life without us. It starts much sooner than adolescence but it is easy to refuse to see it until they start showing us where we are with a great deal of yelling, bad decisions and perilous consequences that make us loose sleep, weight and increase the expanse of grey hair and wrinkles exponentially.
I am not a mother God. I am just a woman who gave birth to two tiny beings that now are clamoring to have their life pulled from my hands. And I struggle to allow this to happen, insisting, if even to myself, that they have no right. But that right is really all they have ever had. From the moment of their birth until right now, they have been breaking themselves against my motherhood. And my only job, to remain steadfast in my willingness to bear the brunt of their frustration, despair and pain. I can tell you that they NEVER fucking put that on the motherhood brochure. Fucking propagandists! And I fell for the whole thing hook, line and sinker. Fucking gullible!
So here I sit writing from my bed in the early hours before teens awake at the rousing hour of 10 or 11 am. Up hours before them. This quiet time stretching out before me like a country road, bracketed in wildflowers and sweet memories. It is in this stillness that I can remember them as they were, when they were sweet and kind and thought that I knew everything. And as the dawn draws nearer, so too, my waking knowledge that I know only a little. And that is all I will ever know. They are mysteries to me. Secret keeping liars that eat all my food, mess up my house and steal things for themselves as they brace to face a world that is so beyond their comprehension that the only thing to do is to believe that they know everything. So much a better choice than admitting that this world that will soon enough be theirs and theirs alone, is unkind, unfathomable and still just out of their reach.
For the moment, I lie in a dark room, typing out my life in syllables, letters on the screen that make me realize on a deeper level that I am not their keeper, not their jailer. I am just their mother. Who does the best she can which is often pretty grand. And sometimes so very poor. Regardless of the outcome I show up for them every day and endeavor to do better than I did the day before and break myself against my own mothering rock. I do this to show them that the breaking is part of the living. That there is no safe haven that one can get to and reside forever. That life is this grand unfolding of pain, sadness, grief and light. It is love and sex and hardship and grand plans that never come to fruition. And that life is best lived surrounded by people who drive you nuts but love you so deeply that they have the courage to show up for you day after never ending day. This is the best part of life, to be secure enough to hate the parents that raised you up. Because they know, on some level, that no matter what I will always love them, even when I am yelling at them at the top of my lungs. And that I do this, I set the limits, I do the yelling because I care with every fiber of my being. And I break my own self against the rock of my own insignificance to meaningful assert my own will against their burgeoning will to live their own lives…all while remembering that parenting is hard. But so is kidding. Teening is hard too and so the conflict in inherent in the tasks of both mother and child. It cannot be other. And so I must fall back on the only thing I have ever known to be true…
So I have to move over and get out of the way…not leave the building completely, but I have to trust that there is a higher power for them, just as there is for me. And I can find immense relief in remembering that I am not ultimately in charge…and if you have witnessed any of my craziness the past few days, you too would say “Thank Fucking God!”
And so I do, over and over again until I am comforted by my lack of power instead of edged over the ledge to all of our demise.