Dear Punk, Kooka and Yoda,
Thank you for telling me that I am a great mom. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for giving me much more credit than I deserve, or even hoped to have. But I have no idea what the hell I am doing.
There. I've said it.
It's absolutely true. Since the day my children were born, I have had no idea how a mom is supposed to be.
If you read this, you know that I lost my own my when I was six. So up until my own kids reached the first grade, I masqueraded as a knowledgable, responsible adult. I didn't know much, but I did remember what I liked and didn't like as a child (DO'S: play with me, be honest, keep your word, late bedtimes. DON'TS: buying me too much crap because then I'll have to pick it up and I don't need that kind of drama, generic peanut butter, ponytails too tight). I had some basic information.
But if I am being brutally honest here, I have been coasting on giant sea of WTF since the oldest turned seven. Seriously.
I know what I wanted as a kid. But I don't know what the adult is supposed to do about it. I don't know what the rules are, I don't know how a "mom" would do it. There are several legitimate questions I've had as a parent. I am not making excuses, just trying to admit to my shortcomings and begging forgiveness.
How old is old enough to stay home alone? Not legally. I can call the county for that information. Legally I was left for a full work day at the age of eight on a hobby ranch to care for two feral pigs, a cow in heat, a dozen captive bred (and pissed off) chickens, three stray cats, two dogs, a guinea hen, four thousand rusty nails, various pieces of broken lumber, an unlocked/inground pool, and an unbroke horse. Thankfully, my family always left the house doors unlocked so we could make a quick escape from the swarm of angry wasps who propagated in the bushes right outside the sliding glass door.
So that one time when you were 13, and I ran to the hardware store for 15 minutes and your sister woke up from a dead sleep, barfing up Doritos and you had to give her the baby heimlich to dislodge them - that was totally not my fault. And the obsessive checking and re-locking of all three doors in our suburban home - I'm just trying to keep the wasps and wild boars out.
How do you talk to the principal?
How the hell would I know this? I used to hang out with the principal and have my OWN parent teacher conferences, because nobody could get to mine. Our conversations would go something like this:
Him: "So, you still on the honor roll?"
Me: "Yep. You still on the blood pressure medication?"
Me: "Alright then."
Him: "Keep on."
So that one time in elementary school when I pulled an Oprah finger on your principal, and told her that if she wanted to talk to somebody like that it wouldn't be us - and then allowed you to give her a firm (but polite) nod and drop out of fifth grade right then and there in her office - well, that's just because I never saw my parents talk to a principal, and I assumed everyone wanted to be told when they were being an arrogant, controlling soul-killing a-hole. Sorry (not sorry).
What is preschool for?
No really - I still don't get it. My own parents sent me and I cried every day. I went to one of those fancy ones where we spoke in French and Spanish and they made us go swimming every day in an above ground pool where my four year old feet couldn't even touch bottom. We were like pre-K Navy Seals treading water for thirty minutes while some half naked, hairy chested man shouted at us in French words we couldn't understand. When we were done he'd let us go back inside for a snack of wheat toast and a spirited game of "which color is red"? Three months and $800 later, my mom took me on a secret car ride and said, "Look, I hate my job, you hate this place - I'm gonna put you on the hook for this and we'll both be happy." She told my dad that I was miserable, and that was the end of that.
So when I didn't sign you up for baby Suzuki violin class, or Montessori CPR, I thought I was doing you a favor.
How old is old enough to date?
I got my first engagement ring in first grade and nobody even noticed. When my dad finally spotted the gorgeous 7-karat-brown-topaz-and-bronze bling dangling from my thumb, the only question he asked was, "Are you sure he's the one?"
So when I tell you to call the girl's parents and ask if it's OK to take her out, it's only because I want to make sure they'll be on the lookout - you know, in case you take after Curt Fenton and try to swipe any of my costume jewelry and pass it off as a legit Tiffany diamond.
What the hell happened to Candyland?
No really - what happened? How did my own parents not see this coming and save my version so I didn't feel the need to slip dollar bills into Queen Frostine's bustier?
|Candyland circa 1975|
I guess what I'm really getting at here, is that for all of my 40-some years, I know nothing. I don't know what you should do, I barely know what I should do. I don't know which order all five of those eyeshadows go on your one square inch of eyelid. I don't know which direction to shave your legs. I have no idea how to make pork chops - they are gross, and spaghetti is quicker. I can't fold a fitted sheet. I put all of my laundry in at once at hope for the best. I don't know what to say when you bomb a test, or lose a girlfriend or fall off your bike in front of all of your friends.
I want to know.
I want to say the right thing.
I want to have all the answers.
But I don't. I am basically 7 years old, trapped in a body that happens to possess a driver's license.
I only know this - I love you, and I am trying.