Tag Archives: parenthood

DRIVE

After several miscarriages and tests and pain- physically and mentally- I was further into a pregnancy than I’d ever been. It was New Years Eve 1999 going into 2000. And the least of my worries was Y2K. I’d lost so many pregnancies (some very late in my term) that I was constantly anxious and paranoid about losing another. Although they had found the source of my “issues” and I was on blood thinners and things seemed to be going ok….I just couldn’t wrap my head around an actual baby. I wasn’t sure it was in my destiny. In our destiny.

But on July 6, 2000 after 26 hours of labor and pitocin (evil shit) she arrived. Seven pounds, 6 ounces of jet black hair and cute, healthy baby! Patrick was so nervous he counted her fingers and toes and kept miscounting thinking she had 11 fingers. Two days later as the nurse wheeled me to the parking lot and Patrick pulled the car up to the curb he and I stood there and stared at the nurse. She kind of looked at us, checked the car seat and waited. We picked up the baby and asked”so do we just leave with it now?”.

So clueless. As most new parents are. So totally and utterly and absolutely clueless.

And now her 5 foot 3 inches self is sitting on my couch almost 15 years later registering for her pre-drivers license classes online. In Colorado you have to have 30 hours of instruction before even getting your permit. And since she wants it ON HER BIRTHDAY- which is Monday, she has to get busy.

And unlike any other milestone in my children’s lives this has me spent. When she learned to talk it was TO ME. When she learned to walk it was TO ME. When she started Kindergarten she came home every day TO ME. I know. I KNOW. With all of my heart and soul and memory of my 15th birthday what this means. When she gets her driver’s license it will be because she will drive AWAY. FROM ME. I’ve cried a few times this week about it. I don’t understand where the time went. It went so crazy fast. And I know what this represents. Its the beginning of her leaving. She will no longer need me to drive her to practice, to go shopping, to her friend’s houses. All of those millions of moments in the car that we talked. REALLY TALKED.

Who will she talk to now? Did I say all I needed to say in 15 years? Did I explain all she needs to know? Did I teach her about life? Did I convey how much I love her. Shit. If I’d have known the time in the car was going to go so quickly I might have talked more. I might have shared more. Or better yet- I might have LISTENED more.

The truth is I didn’t obey every traffic law. I didn’t drive perfectly. I drove out past curfew. I did stupid things STUPID things. I had alcohol in my car and boys and holy crap. How do you tell a kid NOT to do the very things you did? And the truth is you CANT. She knows right from wrong. She knows. But now the choices will lie squarely on her shoulders and I wont be there. Patrick wont be there…to catch her, save her or re direct her.

More than any other thing they’ve ever done this driving thing is a real eye-opener. Because I know what it means to be 15. To be 16. I know how you think. And I also know once you walk out that door, and get in that Red 1987 Chevy Z24 you don’t come back. You just don’t. My Dad took off work the morning of my 16th birthday and took me to the DMV in Lewisville, Texas to get my drivers license. That afternoon, when I drove away for the first tim on my own…I finally now know how he felt. How my Mom felt. He was a mere 35 years old that day. As clueless as I am at 42. About this whole parenting thing. We do they best we can. They did the best they could. We protect and teach, and inform and then we have to let go and trust. I trust her. She’s a good kid. A very good kid. But Im not one of those naive parents that thinks their kids do nothing wrong. After all, I was once 16.

So for this type A, control freak of a Mom this is a big thing. A HUGE thing. And Im scared and Im nervous and Im worried and Im going to slap a GPS tracking deice on her car and lock her phone in her trunk and weld the back doors shut and any other shit we can think to do to protect her. Until we can’t. Until we just have to let go. Watching your kids grow is this beautifully, symmetrical act of simultaneous joy, fear, sadness, pride and love.

The song I listened to most while pregnant with her was “I HOPE YOU DANCE” by Lee Ann Womack. It says a lot about hoping your child embraces all that life will show her. And I hope she does. I hope she finds the beauty in a solo drive through the mountains, in a convertible on a pretty day, in music blaring from the car radio, in the freedom of being able to leave when you want to. And I hope once in a blue moon she drives back home…TO ME!

“Children Get Older and I’m getting older too…”
~Stevie Nicks, Landslide

LOSSES, MILESTONES & FOURTEEN

My daughter turns 14 this Sunday. Fourteen is not necessarily some milestone birthday. I mean its not 13, its not 16, its not 18 or 21. It’s just 14. But its not. For some reason this particular birthday is causing me to reflect and be nostalgic and a bit sad. She’s such a person now. With all the good and bad that comes with that…a REAL PERSON. She has opinions & grit & sarcasm & kindness & sassiness & determination & attitude & a deep, way-too-young understanding of the world. Shit.

I lost several pregnancies before I had Maddie. Several pregnancies that were far into term. It sucked. Turns out I had a blood clotting disorder. Once it was discovered then taking blood thinners during my pregnancy resulted in a very healthy baby- SCORE! I wanted her so badly. I never knew how badly I wanted her until she was here. Now there are days I’d like her to go FAR FAR away. The joys of teen-hood.

But in all honestly I like my kids so much better now than a few years ago. I was not a fun person to be around when I had 2 toddlers. The noise, snot, bodily fluids, screaming, tantrums and lack of sleep were just too much. And that was all me! The kids weren’t easy either.

I do, however, truly appreciate those years. It felt like I lived in a little world where only me & my kids existed. Day in and day out was ultimately just about survival. For all three of us. Maddie was my buddy. We talked a lot. I missed adult conversation since I was a stay at home Mom and so I’d just talk to her as if she were an adult. We watched CNN together & talked about big stuff. I never allowed Barney in my house. NEVER. Hated that purple dinosaur. I just was not a great “baby” Mom. Don’t judge. Survival man- it was all about survival.

And then they got old.

And I like them better. I am more suited to parenting teens I think. My sarcasm, lack of empathy and repulsion to poop lend to older kids. And my kids get it. Especially Maddie. There are times I want to wring her neck. She’s so damn opinionated and strong-willed and sarcastic and funny and smarter than me (sometimes). Its so frustrating. And then I realize- holy crap she’s me! Well ain’t Karma a bitch. Im sure Karen Ellis is laughing & I know wherever my Dad is that he gets the irony. I caused some serious distress to my parents for a few years there. And the apple and the tree and the falling….I get it.

Along with all of the “bad” she got from me she also got the “good”. A lot of that good is from her Dad- definitely the smarts. Im no dummy but he’s like serious smart. Like what-the-hell-was-he-thinking-marrying-me-smart. So glad she’ll most likely pass Algebra and Chemistry. But I passed on some good too: The hard-headedness, the sarcasm, the thick skin, the lack of sensitivity, the over-thinking, the obsession with making things right for those that have been “un-righted”, a love for Buddha, a disdain for brussel sprouts and unfairness, a need to be on time, a love for music (thats a big one). OK did I say “good” things. Maybe all of those things aren’t considered good but its cool to see a little bit of yourself in your kids. Its weird. And good.

I hope she is more than me. I hope she is smarter than me. I hope she makes better decisions than I did. I hope she is more successful than me. I hope she doesn’t have any trouble having children if she wants them because that just sucks. I wish as we all do that I could put a bubble around her and protect her from pain. From boys and broken hearts. From financial worries. From disappointment. From people who will let her down. But I can’t. And I shouldn’t.

My approach and philosophy to parenting is certainly not conventional. I probably let them watch things they shouldn’t. I cuss a lot. In front of them. Always have. I fight with their Dad in front of them. And apologize in front of them. I don’t cook well. I don’t save them from school stuff- they forget their assignment then they get a zero. I explained the birds & the bees when they were very young. I’ve always talked about sex, drugs, whatever, as if it were ok to talk about. These little people did not come with a manual. Sometimes Im just winging it and crossing my fingers. Im in awe of all you parents who have your shit together.

Funny thing is they both are turning out pretty normal. Whatever that means. Andy is so sweet to me and hugs me and is so affectionate and such a huge pain in my ass. Maddie is….amazing. Im in awe of her talents academically, musically and artistically. She can make me want to stab my eyes out one day and make me beam with pride the next. She’s smart as a whip and she’s going to rule the world one day. Either that or ride a bus to Berkeley with a guy named Moonbeam and live off of the Earth. Either way I’ll worry. And be proud.

Fourteen. In a few years she’ll be driving & I shudder at what that means. The freedom that comes with that. All I can do is hope I have not ruined her too much, that therapy won’t be too expensive and that she’s kind to me in her memoir. Its so amazingly cool bringing life into the world. Its even more amazing watching it become a person. Proud of my little person. Happy Birthday Madelyn Renee.

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