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WTF: Teenagers & Responsibility

ARG!!!!!! I’m SO MAD!

I can’t even type right now.

Motherhood is a challenge at all angles. But the biggest challenge is in not wanting to DESTROY your children when they pull one over on you–or WORSE: Their teachers.

DAMMIT! Click on the link to watch this go down…and I have a FEELING, this is only the beginning.

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So-Called Mom

 

So-Called Letting Go

Some things are easy to write and talk about and others, not so much. 
At the top of this list is the glaring fact that my kids are getting older. And not just this, but it is the first time in almost 20 years that I haven’t had a baby in the house. That’s a sentiment that raises even my eyebrows. In addition, referring to 5 year old Leopold as a baby lately has become an embarrassing habit that I recently have forced myself to break. I don’t even think I allowed him to transition to toddler-hood. He was always the baby, and now he’s a kid. A big kid—a kindergartener for crying out loud.
so-called mom
So–no babies for this mom, plus most of my kids that are now taller than me, mixed in with the fact that time definitely doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all and you have one hot matriarchal mess.
To help me cope with my new discovery, I’m laying out my obvious fears in the scrutinizing daylight:
1.  All I have known is being a mom who is deeply connected (dependent even?) to her kids. In a world where everything can be up in the air, being a mom was the one grounding thing I could be sure of. They don’t really need me as much these days—now what? Well, now I’m not so sure of anything.
2.  For the last ten years, Pippin and I have raised a blended family together. We have never known each other without our kids in the mix. When the last of the blend is off to live their own life, what will happen to ours?
3.  The idea of not being this all-systems-go mom that I have grown accustomed to, has me suddenly feeling like I don’t know my name. Sure I’m not quite 40 yet and I’m not one of those people who believes that 40 is old, but it does make me wonder: what exactly will I do when they are all gone?
4.  Did I even do a good job? 
So-Called Mom
I had my first kid, Jake, when I was 22 and I have always sworn that he was the thing that kept me on track, kept me out of trouble, kept me working harder than ever. I always say/think/feel that I was nothing before I had kids….so does that translate as the same after they fly the coop? Will I become nothing again? Bored? A trouble maker? These are real concerns of mine that anyone could flag as being fodder for a potential crisis. But I don’t want a crisis—midlife or otherwise. I want a transition point. I want to slow down time and create a gradual turn into this next stage. I want to savor this age, as awkward as it is for myself, the kids and the whole family in general. And then I want to accept that change, as scary as it is.
so-called mom
So what do I do to keep myself from doing anything drastic, like having another baby to fill this sudden void? I think I’m supposed to accept the discomfort of the void, and fill it with something else. Like self care for instance. Something I’m good at, but only after everything else is done—like most moms, I’m guessing. I consider myself a low maintenance person. It’s not that I put myself last, it’s just that I—outside of binge shopping for a self medicated distraction—I don’t always see to it that my needs are met until it’s just about too late.
So-Called Mom
Interestingly enough, that’s exactly the point—the problem— really. I have kids, seven of them: which means my needs are met through them. And now I’m realizing that isn’t sustainable.
so-called mom
So the new goal here is to slow it down, mom-wise. To make a steady transition to being a mom with kids that have grown their own wings. And to address the lack of having a baby– on my yoga mat. And come to a place where I can be OK without taking care of anyone but myself, and Pippin of course.
Switching Gears,
So-Called Mom

What is the Point of School

I can’t decide if I’m falling out of love with homeschooling or if I have spring fever— or if I just despise our education system (including my own teachings) altogether. 
I know I would do wonderfully on a deserted island with my family—with no system to report to with regards to what my kids are learning. I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again: Our kids are not learning what they need to be studying in school—even when we take them out of it, the material they must learn isn’t cutting it. I believe they are absorbing the monotony of adulthood, and it’s killing—not building, their brain cells. Simply put: School is boring and I’m loosing my footing as a home-based teacher.
so called mom
The reason I feel this way is because kids should be heavily immersed in things like: Money management, insurance policies, emergency preparedness, civic engagement, abusive relationships, fair wages, diet and fitness, finding your passion, inner peace. And at an early age. This is the stuff that determines survival—not Oregon history—which always seems to be mis-told no matter which edition your textbook is. Somebody needs to take a crack at writing an age appropriate account of what really happened so that we can quit brushing it under the carpet or denying it altogether.
Am I teaching Pascal these savvy survival-based things, even with our free-wheeling homeschool curriculum? Nope, Not as a part of anything guided. There aren’t enough hours in the day with all of this other nonsense clouding our time together. And, quite frankly, it pisses me off. Imagine preparing kids for real life! Imagine a system that raised kids to be good people!
Earlier today I was reading material about how Oregon was settled, shaking my head and cutting myself off, saying: Pascal, this is bullshit. Do you have any idea what these So-Called Colonists did to the Native Americans? Our only real lesson in that entire book can be learned in one grim, hopeless statement: People can be terrible, and greedy and what’s worse—things haven’t changed much.
so called mom
So now what? Well, with six weeks left in the school year, I’m not sure I have much choice but to ride it out. And, I’m not sure I can actually do anything but complain about it. If she was my only child, I would take on the system with her on my arm, but the fact of the matter is, I still have 6 other kids that need me—for homework help, projects, extra curriculars, doctors appointments, friend making and dinner. There isn’t enough time in the day to take on the world unfortunately. So we stumble through it.
But it doesn’t remove my disappointment from our American culture and it’s frequent missed opportunities for youth impact. Pascal shouldn’t have to wait for college to kick in for some of these life-shaping lessons. They should be happening now as an intelligent strategy to build better citizens, learners, parents, employees, etc etc. I can’t and shouldn’t have to teach that on my own. For now I’m stumped about what to do. Humanitarianism should be the core of her learning and I’m disappointed that it isn’t. Everything else is just a distraction to what’s really important: human awareness and participation. Not the perpetuation of indifference and selfishness. 
Rethinking it all,
So-Called Mom

Your Own Advice is the Hardest to Take: Get Out of the Way Part II

 

It has taken me an ETERNITY to discover (and re-discover) that I am my kids’ biggest obstacle. We all know this is everything a mom does not want to be, yet we keep at it in the worst ways possible.

In this particular instance, I learned that getting five year old Leopold OUT of our bed and into his OWN, was easy after I learned that I was keeping him from feeling comfortable in his own bed. Apparently I was standing in the way of a decent nights sleep for ALL involved.

So, much like me pushing Leopold into friendships to the point of exhaustion, I learned that all I had to do was back off. Simple right? Not exactly, but I’m trying.

From here on out, I hope I can stick to this new version of “hands-off” me. It will take some heavy awareness and self-policing to keep myself from meddling like I have been for the past 17 years. Better late than never, right?

Wish Me Luck,
So-Called Mom

#iboughtastolencar

Yesterday we gave 17 year old Jake the ultimate birthday present: A stolen car. 
so-called mom
There are several things wrong with that sentence aside from the obvious: the most important being that we purchased a car for a kid who has failed his permit test not once but twice, and that in doing so, mom and dad left their due diligence at home in exchange for a too-good-to-be-true situation.
I’ll give some context, and let the on-line games begin.
Spoiler alert: I get that we screwed up.  But spin-meister that I am, I found a silver lining.
I wanted Jake to have a car for his birthday because I hoped it would become an impetus to finally pass his drivers permit so he could learn to drive. (That would include studying for it).  I need him to take this next leap to get him to adulthood and since he has an (almost) girlfriend, and a nice big mother-in-law quarters to practice apartment life in, I figured a car would give him the drive to actually commit….and maybe even enjoy doing so.
Pippin found a great option on Craigslist and we met this kid and his girlfriend at their apartment complex (or so we thought) and took it for a test drive. We were in a hurry so we ignored any and all red flags and just handed over a wad of cash and he split—leaving us with a gorgeous BMW, a counterfeit title and a copy of (what we believe to be) his fake ID. I mean, a gorgeous BMW that now spews black smoke from it’s tailpipe, begging for a new expensive engine. Of course the kid’s phone number doesn’t work anymore.
Even though I’m still stewing over how that raw deal played out, I’m more impressed with how we handled the situation. This is the kind of thing that can easily pit husband against wife, leaving a bubbled over mess of resentment and anguish. Instead we said to each other: There are so many would’ves and could’ves —we took a gamble together and lost together. We have been so lucky and have done so well for ourselves, there’s bound to be a slip up like this in the mix somewhere. It was time, and this dig isn’t so bad. It could’ve been worse.
I mean, there was not one single fight or assertion—not a single rude word was said about this. It would’ve made the situation even worse and we knew it. But we chose the high road. Well, really it was me who did, since Pippin is the one who is always so damn cool. I’m usually the one raking us over the coals…but I just didn’t. Instead I kept telling myself: That kid is in a bad spot. It must be so hard to live like that. I hope we helped him out. And….I’m glad he’s not my son.
The funny thing is that the moral of the story isn’t to be more careful next time, but rather—shit happens and it’s most important to lean in and love each other through it. As such, I’m calling this situation a serious fucking score for the home team.
so called mom
The rest of the night ensued with birthday cake and watching Ghostbusters with Jake (his favorite movie) on a pile of new comforters and pillows because he is still unpacking and setting up his space in this house. And while we likely need to give the vehicle back, I still gained something. Jake texted me on his way to school: Mom, thank you so much for the car. I know it was such a headache, but I want to get my license now more than I ever have and I promise to work harder for that.
And after the dust of the night settled and the kids were in bed, Pippin and I danced in our living room, finally unpacked and settled, to a pile of records—most notably Smoky Robinson’s Cruisin’ and laughed and talked until there was nothing left to be said.

However, even though the love is still in the air, none of it makes the problem go away. So we’re weighing our options: put a lien on the vehicle and see if it can be ours (and then get expensive repairs), turn it in (to whomever it belongs) and cut our losses, drive the car downtown, park it in a high ticket area and walk away (yikes, but a good way to find the original owners quickly). Pippin has asked me not to worry about it. He’s got it, apparently. In any case, I’m inclined to look the other way on this one.

Would love to know: What would you do in this situation?
Hustled to hell and back,
So-Called Mom