Saturday, October 23, 2010

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water

Tonite Dakota was an hour late home. The number he left me to reach his friend, who was driving, was the kid's home phone number. Not helpful because they weren't home. They were out. That was the point. I want to go out, Mom, he said, and we negotiated, because he's been grounded, and we've been doing some things, and this was a step towards 'rebuilding trust' as the experts like to say. After he walked in the door I heard his excuses and then said uhmhmmm, which is the best response at 10pm, and promptly had a totally unrelated outburst over the top dresser drawer full of black wires that I carefully rolled and organized which now lay like a black hornet nest, jumbled and useless, due to the boys and Mr. Curry opening, rummaging, and closing the drawer.

I hate how whenever I'm worried and upset lately, I feel like I have to go the bathroom. I blame the baby. She's sitting on my intestines.

I'm learning about letting go. I'm re-learning it. I'm learning it when applied to my children, which is a completely and totally different proposition than letting go of anything else, like grades, pissy co-workers, traffic, mothers, the guy in line who cuts ahead, the sag of your ass, the fact that your life/labor and birth/marriage/business is not exactly like you planned, your career stalled, your hair went curly when you hit your late twenties, you still don't have savings, whatever it is. Letting go of what your almost-not-a-kid-anymore-kid does is horrible, unless they are straight A perfect driving college attending straight edge friend loving sexually abstinent persons free of inner demons or conflict. It's horrible because your entire job as a parent becomes basically turned around inside out and you are supposed to be able to do the exact opposite of what you've always done. Instead, you are asked to have the relationship with them of a caring and firm but lovingly detached aunt or uncle, where you can magically set boundries and watch your child careen away from them off cliffs. And you are not supposed to lose your mind while this happens. I know. I thought it was a joke at first too.

Instead, you are supposed to let them make their own mistakes. Because the part where you teach them values is pretty much set. And the years of guiding them (read: keeping them) away from bad influences are over. The years of their dependence on you before all others is gone except in emergencies, because they are trying to find themselves, and how can they do that when Mommy still tells them what that answer is supposed to be? The years of control are over. You can't control who they eat with at lunch, who they hang out with after school, who they get a ride home with, if they have sex, take a drink, smoke a cigarette. You can try! Have fun! What you can do is set boundries and enforce consequences. You can pray that all you have poured into them and taught them will matter. You can let them know what you expect. But you can't make.

I will never forget sitting outside my house at 15 years old on my driveway, smoking a Marlboro. I had been crying and fighting with my Mom and was waiting for my long haired, Slayer loving, guitar playing, sex with me having boyfriend to show up in his blue sports car. And suddenly, slumped against my garage, I had a realization that changed my life forever. Mom can't make me stay here, I thought. She can't make me stop smoking. She can't make me stay grounded if I am. She can't chain me to my bed. I am free to listen to her or not, as long as I'm willing to suffer whatever consequences happen. And I didn't go off the deep end. But I never looked at my parents the same, or felt like a child again in the same way. I knew I was truly the one to decide my own fate.

Ever dropped. I went to bed with my breasts lying high and neat on my stomach like an African queen, and woke with the top of my stomach squishy and soft, where once my Biggie Pea had jutted her hiney, and an enormous pressure on my pelvic bone that only increased every time I stood or walked. By midafternoon I am walking like I did the first couple years every time Mr. Curry and I had date nite. It hurts. And I am peeing every 45 minutes. I am 35 weeks on Tuesday. My book says after your first pregnancy, it's highly unusual to drop unless it's a week before your labor. Well. I am known for being highly unusual. So we will see what the good doctor says on Tuesday morning, at my next appointment.

Today Mr. Curry had the stomach flu, so I took Dakota Ian and Lola to the Pumpkin Patch, and all went well. At first. Until Dakota got angry and took off into the parking lot, and Ian tried to follow him, and I told him he couldn't, and he listened but made a point to walk ten feet behind Lola and I after that. Just to show me, you know. So I took a deep breath after jabbering at Ian for a minute about respect and family and blah, and told Lola we were going to forget about those boys and their grumpy selves and have fun. And we did.

Still, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. That roil and boil and stress reaction. Stress equals loose bowels. Let that phrase simmer for a while. Pretty.
Elisabeth said...

Ah life, it's tough and you so pregnant and your boys so needy in an adolescent sort of way, and Lola somewhere in between.

You span the micro generations here, infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. No wonder it's a roller coaster.

Soon, Ever, soon.

katiecrackernuts said...

Imagine having your 15-year-old moment in reverse. I guess that's the only way I could describe what it was like with our "troubled waters" child. I guess I got to the point where I was willing to lose one, as awful as that sounds, to save three - along with my partner and I. And almost, at the minute I let go and said GO, she hung on. And I learned something. She needed me, and this family, more than I needed her to be safe. If that makes sense. And once I knew that, I was changed, in the same way you, at 15, were.

Jeanne said...

When my was a third-grader, I heard a guy at work, whose daughters were in their teens, say that if he had it to do over, he wouldn't have kids. He'd spend the money/time/energy on a trip to Europe instead. I couldn't understand how he could feel that way.

Six years passed and my daughter turned 14. I won't say that I came to feel exactly as he did, but I sure understood where he was coming from.

And, I must say, I'm looking forward, with a not-very-nice sense of anticipation, to watching her go through the same period with her kids.

Great post!

Cam said...

well, you ARE letting go...bowels, kids, the whole damn thing

xx good luck on Tuesday!

michelle said...

This had my heart pounding and my belly giggling all at the same time.

I think about what each of my kids might be like as teens/young adults. Some of the thoughts make me shudder. And scare the shit out of me. I wonder what it will feel like and how I will handle it. I wonder how mamas going through it now handle it. eeek

I await Ever. I loved this part of pregnancy.


wv: drapowar from the Universe

Julia said...

Yes, there's a difference in letting go in situations when you can't help because they won't *let* you help. We're letting go of the idea that we matter in a certain way, and that feels impossible because it's the way we've shown we love them for years and years, and we haven't yet learned a new way. And we don't wanna.

It's a letting-go that involves trust in someone else's judgment. Most letting-gos don't require that leap of faith.

It's hard. Hold on to what you know is good and true.

Libertine said...

Oh Maggie May! I hope you will be fine on Tuesday. I feel for you and your parenting pain. I fear that time when my daughter will come to this age. She's twelve and I know I won't like to let her go.

Irish Gumbo said...

That moment of realization is scary powerful isn't it? Similar epiphany for me, and the parent/son relationship was never quite the same after that.

And we survived.

Sending some peaceful thoughts your way.

Corinne said...

Here's to being unusual... my second dropped, and dropped weeks before she came...
Anyway :)
Honey. I love your posts. The honesty, the nitty gritty. It's still painful for me to look back at that same point when I knew I held my fate, not my parents. Maybe because my mother still thinks she does? I don't know. I remember the looks she gave at that time, the heartache I felt over it all.
All the while I thought "this will never happen when I have kids"
And know I know better. It will. But we'll all survive.
You're doing incredible... and your writing is so beautiful.

Wine and Words said...

Oh you made me laugh. Such humor, but also strain and the stress of rubber bands stretched uncomfortably. Both my boys are now adults. The process of letting go was slow, arduous. But there is also a freedom in it. I did the best I could. They make their own choices now and I don't have to be so perfect. As I let me out, they let me in on the other side of childhood. It is nice in a have so little control.

Drax said...

VERY pretty.

Lauren Knight said...

Oh, Maggie. I don't even know you but I feel like I do. I feel like you are on the brink of something monumental, or maybe this is just life. You have, unlike me, children in all different stages and I can't imagine how difficult that must be at times, and how wonderful at others. Hang in there, keep breathing. Ever will be here soon!

Bethany said...

I love the way you write about anything, but especially being a mom. So right on. How I imagined it and why I didn't think I could ever handle it. Too much constant change and shifting. Too much heart work. I admire you somehow balancing all these stages at once, baby, pushing on your bowels, teenager pushing your boundaries and heart all around. I read this amazing book once that described being a mom in a similar way to how you do, so real and raw and right on. I wish I could remember the title. I think you'd like it.
Hope your wires get sort out again. You just keep untangling. I suppose that's what mom's do.

Your lists make me laugh and sigh, esp not having a savings. Yeah, I get that.

Hang in there.

AmandaJo said...

I love the way you approach mothering your children. I love that you know with everything inside yourself that it's your job as a mother to give them as much ability to be successful adults as possible, but you can't control what they DO with that. They don't have to do ANYTHING with everything you pour into them. And it's so damn hard.

My son's only 11 months old, but it keeps me up at night thinking about these things... I was that way, yaknow. What do adults know? What could they possibly know about what's inside you?

Turns out, just about everything. But you can't tell a teenager that. They have to learn things, do things, go places, be people on their own.

It's just scary, yaknow. Really scary.

Angella Lister said...

hardest thing in the world, that letting go. especially since they are years away from having good sense. we can't make them, but they don't know enough to make themselves yet. it's all such a crap shoot. or that's what it feels like in this passage here.

Ever dropped! Beautiful. So much magic alongside the crazy-making. Hold the magic.

Steph(anie) said...

"Stress equals loose bowels" could be the title of my memoirs.

Ms. Moon said...

All I can say is that no matter how much you may doubt it at times- you will survive and so will your children. You are doing THE HARDEST JOB ON THE PLANET AND CREATING LIFE AT THE SAME TIME!
And that baby is not going to wait five more weeks- in my professional opinion.
Honeypie, I wish I could hold your hand, tell you it's gonna be okay, look into your eyes and tattoo the truth of that onto your brain.
Because...I know.
Sending love...Mary

Elizabeth said...

The third pregnancy is just plain difficile. At least it was for me. More uncomfortable, more surprises. The doctor told me it was because I was older (age 38) -- who knows.

As for your teenager stuff, I'm reading closely. My 12-year-old Henry has changed in what seems like the past four hours. A post about it all is brewing, but it all makes me very, very insecure and nervous.

YES Gallery + Studio said...

Well said, as usual. Letting go is a practice that requires grace. Man, that's hard. I always say if I have kids I'd like them to arrive as 5 year olds and then magically skip over the years between 15 and 22. Keep up the good work!

Annie said...

Hi Maggie,
It's tough when they walk away, and everyone's angry and hurt. Dakota knows you love him. They all do, and that's the thing to hold onto; and then you have the fun you can, like you and Lola in the pumpkin patch. Here's hoping laying down will give you some relief with Ever.

Petit fleur said...

I just don't even know what to say... I laughed, I cried. ok, I didn't really cry, but I did feel the pain of your emotional upheaval.

Hang in Maggie. You're doing great. And extra coo-dos to you for keeping your sense of humor in troubling times.

Barrie said...

I completely feel your pain/frustration/fear re teens. Completely. Looking forward to hearing what the doctor says at your next appointment!

Vodka Mom said...

life is challenging and wonderful every damn step of the way.

and that is why they made vodka.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Love you, Maggie. Don't know what else to say.

I'm thinking of you.

Paula said...

Wont it be interesting when Dakota is grown with children of his own and he is reflecting back on your relationship with him?

I like to think that my children will move through the teenage years with more ease then I did. That they wont deal with the tumultuous shitty relationships of bad friends and partners...I can steer them clear of it.

But in the back of mind I know they will find it and experience it regardless of what I think I can keep them from.

Hopefully we will all live through it and can talk about it one day...

Can't wait to hear how Tuesday goes.. I'm sure you are getting anxious!

Mwa said...

I like a good bowel story. Thanks!
It must be too hard having to let go of a teen. I'm sure I will fail at that spectacularly. Unless, as you say, lahdidah.
And dropped??? Woohoo! Mine dropped at the very end of LABOUR!

Evangeline said...

This had me howling:

"I know. I thought it was a joke at first too."

At least your sense of humour is intact, Maggie. What with grumpy boys and bowels, and the awful pain of letting go you need it to be!

I hope the news is good on Tuesday. Almost but not quite Ever. Just relax for a few more weeks little gal!

Terresa said...

Learning about letting go, (sigh) the story of our lives as women, no?

There's a poem in this post, in the emotion in it, in having to pee frequently, as I read this I feel I'm back pregnant and urinating every other breath, it felt that constant.

I've never mothered children more than 5 years apart in age (my 4 kids range from ages 3 to 8), I thought it was a curse, but trying to jump out of my head into yours, reading about mothering teenagers, a nearly tween and a baby-in-utero, I dunno. I think I'll take a plate of chocolate cake, wish you blessings in abundance, & wish I had time for a nap somewhere in between.

Ida Mae said...

it's bizarre just how alike our lives are.. every time I check in, I find a new way we are similar. Which is great b/c I look up to you.

I just hope when my son (and his yet-to-be-conceived) sibling get to be to their teen years, that I can handle it with the grace and patience that you display.

Also, my little guy dropped early, and was born at what we thought was 35 weeks, but was determined to be 36.. in all was fine. I am sure Ever (and you) will be too!

~Ida Mae

swonderful said...

i am already learning all the things i cannot make my three year old (my THREE YEAR OLD) do. i cannot make him go to sleep if he does not want to go to sleep. i cannot make him NOT scream at the top of his lungs to protest me saying no, in public. i cannot physically force him to eat food if he is not feeling like he wants to eat. he is exhausting me and i keep thinking how scary it will be when the battles aren't food and sleep but beer and sex. (this is kind of in a really stupidly way-too-veiled way what i tried to write about a couple days ago.)

hal dropped way early, like 35 weeks early. he was at zero station forEVER and it really is the weirdest most uncomfortable feeling. i can't believe you're so close. you're so close.

Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress said...

When I realized, somewhere around 16, that my parents couldn't "make me" do anything, it was the most sensational and liberating thought I ever had.

Now, as a mom to a near 11-year old girl, it is the most petrifying and saddening thought.

Last night, as Cal was getting ready for bed, she wanted to tell me all about her day. She still wants to share so much. I hope it never changes, but if it does, I'll work, bit by bit on letting go.

Maybe I should have another baby.=)

anymommy said...

I too am amazed at your ability to deal with the spectrum of childhood. Growing a new baby while you let go of your oldest. I can't wait to hear what the doctor has to say - and that meeting Ever is just a few weeks away...exciting beyond belief.

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