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

#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

How to Makeover Your Teens

I’m a believer that when you look good, you feel good. And looking good involves a good hair style and make-up. It may not be the most ardently feminist position I could take, but it’s always worked for me.  (frankly, this is not just for girls, but the teenage boy seems to be more generally resistant).  And looking good doesn’t have to mean looking like everyone else or that you have to be classically beautiful.  In fact, it shouldn’t. Sure, that girl is pretty. But how about you? There is no need to look like anyone else, as that look is already taken. I believe you can be yourself and still be fabulous.

Hence, the make-over lesson.  Which in my definition means more than just a hair and clothes overhaul, but also self-care which starts with skin and make-up.  One thing you can be sure of, if you don’t teach this stuff, the internet will.  And that usually doesn’t end well, with some pretty caked on versions of so-called contouring.

So far it looks like only one of my four girls is ready to start this conversation, even though technically Milla and Em are the same age. Milla has already decided, I look good enough without makeup, thanks anyway.  And she may forever be that person, content with who she is.  The other two girls are still too young.

But Em and I are going to play.  (added value is a great bonding opportunity!)

Next up:  A Good Haircut and Shopping Spree!

Your Sophisticated Lady,

So-Called Mom

Why You Should Monitor Your Teens Devices

Time for an update on the whole Internet Predator/Milla Debacle.

 

I can’t believe it, but Milla is already showing drastic improvement; and it’s been only a week since we discovered the issue. I was convinced Milla was traumatized beyond repair and that she would need several therapy sessions to help her process what happened. But literally pulling the plug on screen use has proven to be worth it’s weight in gold. The bulk of the issue was too much freedom—too much running wild, completely unleashed in the internet jungle. And so reeling it in has just about resolved the problem on it’s own.

She’s like a whole new kid.

And it feels like she’s happier than before. She has a sense of humor, is less irritable and even comes to check in with me throughout the day and night, wherever I am in the house. I love this!

Of course counseling will still be in the picture—I believe in giving all of my kids an opportunity to seek help with a professional—and having complete confidentiality. They can pour their hearts out one session at a time and gain an understanding about themselves in a way that I cannot teach. Milla will be able to learn some meaningful tools to help her cope in a busy world—with someone she trusts. I only wish I stepped in sooner to offer this.

I’ve also been policing her viewing history as I religiously collect both her iPhone and iPad every evening. She knows I look through it—the transparency has us trusting each other more. And she agrees that the freedom she has is enough and understands the freedom she had before was far too much. I should’ve been doing this from day one, but I’m glad I have a much better understanding now.

I randomly told the story to my doctor yesterday and she said that another patient of hers confessed to learning how to cut herself online—simply from being exposed to it as an option for self expression or anxiety relief.

We have to protect our kids better than this, I said.

Kids are so impressionable. Too much independence could easily yield a dangerous situation. When they become teens, everything rides on that edge of you can’t tell me what to do, you really don’t know anything at all. They seek other meaning—oftentimes opposite what you have told them. But this doesn’t mean Milla doesn’t need me anymore—it means she needs me now more than ever. I have come to understand this sort of backwards rationale.

Even though there is nothing more precious to me than my kids’ innocence and security, this So Called Mom has also been careless with it. I see it clearly now that Milla has directly experienced my lackadaisical approach to the online world. Consequently, ignorance is not bliss— it’s hazardous. Parenting teens means patrolling them too. Especially with their online usage—otherwise it’s all out of sight, out of mind.

If something is amiss, we need to ask ourselves, what is it they are not getting and how do I fulfill that need? 

I understand this is a challenge—all moms are busy. There’s a lot that is demanded of us these days. But we need to engage, to stay involved and lean into it. Because what we don’t know will hurt us. We need to see the apps they have, the profiles they’re creating, the viewing history. We need to ultimately talk about the scary world they are navigating, and talk about it often. Even if we are afraid of what we’ll find, we need to stay connected and stay close by.

Surveillance on High,

So Called Mom