hen Angel and I started sharing the good, bad and funny about our lives – and husbands and friends and hairdressers, etc. – our children were much smaller. To put it in perspective, my oldest child, Jacob, was 7 years old, and my youngest, Jackson, was barely 3 when I wrote my first Telling Tales column.
Soon, that 7 year old will turn 20 and is now a sophomore in college. My littlest isn’t so little anymore. He’s 15 and nearly 6 feet tall.
It was easier back then. The boys were small. And by comparison, our worries as parents were small-ish, too. Maybe it’s because it was easier to make light of the tough times.
I worried about Jacob, who was a little smaller than other children his age, despite a having a longshoreman’s appetite. I worried Jackson would not sleep in his own bed ever.
Now, things are different.
There are days I would give anything for my biggest worry to be finding the right kind of Lightening McQueen underpants for Jackson, so he would go No. 2 in the potty. Or that Jacob’s position on the junior high basketball team – second person from the coach on the bench every single game – would somehow stifle his confidence as an adult and thereby lead to a lifetime of low self-esteem. Side note, I think that one is called transference in the world of psychology.
Now, the worrying feels justified. Is it because there’s more at stake? Maybe. Is it because parenting teenagers can sometimes feel like slamming your hand in the car door over and over the months between their 15th and 17th year of life? Probably.
When I feel myself spiraling into a worry tornado, I stop, take a few Ujjayi breaths then realize this behavior doesn’t produce anything except middle-aged acne breakouts and sleepless nights. It didn’t help when weaning a 1 year old from the bottle, so it probably stands to reason that reading every single text your child sends and receives won’t accomplish anything except early mistrust. It doesn’t matter you are totally justified because the little twit lied about going to the movies. Just like children, parents have to learn the hard way, too.
Eventually you understand. You wake up one day and realize your mom, your sister, Laura, and your friend, Beth, were right about so many things.
• The more you listen, the more they will talk.
• There are some things you do not need to know.
• It’s totally normal to worry.
• It’s totally fine to laugh at your children.
• Never trust a teenager who casually gives the goods on what bad things other teenagers are doing. This was my mom.
And finally, …
• Find comfort in fellow mothers.
• The nipple ring Jacob got on his high school senior trip will make you laugh one day.
Parenting is tough. You must go through the teething and sleepless nights. You must sit in the passenger seat and watch as it looks like the permitted driver next to you tries to take out every mailbox between your house and the grocery store. You must look on helpless as they experience heartbreak for the first time. As difficult it is to do nothing, it’s worth it.
One day you get to see an 8-month-old give you a big, toothy grin every time you walk into a room. You get a to call your teenager and ask him to pick up kitty litter on the way home. And since he had his heart broken, you see how careful your son is with the heart of anyone he “hangs out with” these days.
You must go through the bad to get to the good. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s sad. But it’s always worth it.
Comments? Email Becky Andrews at [email protected] Andrews and Angel Kane are the brains behind Telling Tales, a weekly column in The Democrat.