As of late I have been struggling with the transition from my boys clinging to my side at every waking moment to the desire to be out most of the time. My British blood, or at least the easy thing to put the blame on, makes expressing my feelings of sadness and worry a bit difficult. Rather than putting my family in an awkward conversation where I babble on and on and they quietly wish I would stop babbling, I wrote them an official M.U.M. so that instead they could read my babble on paper in their own time. (cause you know they are ALL going to be reading this word for word!)
And here I present to you this Mother's Unexposed Manifesto - Ever so Lovingly Dedicated to My Teenage Boys...
Okay, okay I’ll admit it, I’m not perfect at this “Mom” thing...did you read that, yes I’m admitting to the fact that I’m still figuring out the exact prerequisites needed to obtain the BACHELOR OF MOTHERHOOD degree. I showed up for class and after only 9 months of lessons, I was thrown into a real life lab experiment, and to be perfectly honest, I STILL have no freakin’ clue what I’m doing the majority of the time. Reassuring to hear isn’t it.
I’ll admit to struggling in school, but man the grading rubric for the teen portion of the Mom’s degree is unwavering! On the rare instances I do something right, and am offered a tiny expression of praise, a raging party transpires inside me where I openly dance to Madonna’s “Celebration”. (What can I tell ya other than I’m a product of the 80’s) Aaaaaaand then other times...when overall success is measured in eye rolls and deep sighs well, you might as well stamp a big fat red “F” in the middle of my forehead, because even if I pulled an all-nighter “studying” the vast amount of information available on Google about raising a teenager, I’d eventually have to surrender to the fact that the only way to achieve accurate results in this lab experiment is to test it over and over and over again. A test that will inevitably fail more times than it succeeds.
I’ve done more research in this subject than ever before. Digging deep into my archives, scouring old material (some only found in microfiche) to reveal the most exposed details of my teen experience, so that I could accurately show my kids with examples as to how THIS mom GETS what you are going through. (I’ve since determined this to be an instant fail since presenting too much information left me vulnerable in classroom cross-examination)
In using my own data I could easily prove the point that ions ago I was actually a kid just like them who made mistakes and learned from them to eventually be a successful adult and look at me now...I mean yeah, LOOK AT ME NOW! It’s seemed like a straightforward way to validate the statement “I know where you’re coming from and I’m here to help you get to where you are going, I truly understand both sides of the equation.
To site from section IIV page 237 of my teenage archives, "Back in the day, you know before cell phones, we met at 7-11 (or Sleven as we so affectionately called it), to find out where "EVERYONE" was going for the evening, then spent the rest of the night congregating at a local park partying with 200 of my closest friends which was commonly followed by a breakneck run away from the cops." This was a quintessential part of my youth, These experiences hold lots of good (and bad) memories as well as lessons learned. I realize we all have to carve our own path leading to successes and failures and that includes my kids. My 1980/90’s experiences is going to be slightly different from what they are confronting today. Really the purpose of accessing past archives was in hopes that maybe a few of my errors in judgment might lead them in the right direction. The one that stops them from making a stupid mistake, you know the kind that once they happen, can’t be reversed.
Sooooo what happened the moment they wanted to go out? Parent mistake numero uno....I assumed they’d be doing all the fabulously, foolish things I did in my own personal discovery...To be fair, my mind wanders to my youth when I'm only given a piece or two of the large puzzle. I’ve disclosed time and time again, if I’m left to fill in the blanks then I can only fill in the answers with data I’ve gathered from my past. (BTW I’m aware that it’s not just my kids that are secretive, the teenage species is known for omitting the small details,.. And straight up, as a teen I was pretty darn good at keeping a few SMALL details to myself to make sure my parents couldn’t compile their notes to have a reason to give me a hard NO! You can’t go.) In other words, point proven... I was once upon a time IN YOUR SHOES; I get it.
You see as a teenager, you don’t have enough lab hours to accurately analyze the relationship between cause-and-effect for your actions. Thus when presented with a hard "NO," confusion sets in. You’re overall conclusion undeniably becomes, Parents are ROAD BLOCKS; FUN KILLERS. Now that I’m on the other side, the older and wiser one, I see the reason for the word "NO," It’s not a secret operation where "NO" is code for a plan we have to sabotage their social life or lower their chances to snag a girlfriend. (Are you kidding in a house full of boys, I WELCOME the day when someone brings home another female to combat the abundance of testosterone under this roof )
Nope, there’s no hidden agenda. I know you might be surprised to hear this but I’m not a secret agent. In reality I use the word "NO" in the instances I need to protect my kid, you know the one that means more to me than anything in the world (x3 of course) To make sure he gets home safely and without major consequences that may have a trickle effect on the rest of his life...Really there’s no other objective...This word problem is simple...I LOVE my KID and I want to be able to experience life with him now and forever. The end. You wish it was the end. If only you were that lucky. ;-)
Nope the main reason for the word "NO" is because as an experienced adult... 42 years experienced to be exact, (I know it’s crazy to think of me as an expert when I’d lose my head if it weren’t attached) but from my own experience and also weighing in Dad’s experiences as well (now we’re talking about 86 years of worldliness and wisdom!) Sometimes, okay more than sometimes, our intuition and years of trials and tribulations is enough to make some pretty sound conclusions about the outcome of a situation. It might not always be compatible to their thoughts on the subject, or generation-ally “user friendly”, but it’s a ton more than the 15 and 13 years (x2) they’ve spent on this planet. ( Even if we add up all their years, sadly they are still 1 year shy of my own grand number)
I know you’re thinking... wrap it up Mom...get to the point. Okay, okay...So here goes the “mommed out”, version of how this all plays out in my head... The moment they were plopped onto my belly after birth with those gut wrenching cries I experienced a feeling I hadn’t had before...From pure instinct I wanted to hold them, comfort them and protect them from any and all physical and emotional pain.
Take a moment to fathom where I’m coming from, that it’s kinda distressing to go from being the ALL AND MIGHTY PROTECTOR who shielded you from the monsters that hid in your closet to a bystander relinquishing all control as you walk out the door into the big bad world to meander amongst the real life monsters who could gobble you up in broad daylight. (Literally and metaphorically speaking) Ok, if I’m disclosing it all, I will admit to occasionally having outlandish thoughts involving chains outside our doors to keep them all locked inside and out of harms way, but do not worry these are fleeting moments of emotional weakness (and besides Tim didn’t include chains in the Lowes home improvement budget)
(below paragraph unchanged from the letter I gave my kids. It was too hard to put this in third person :-)
So as I study up for the next midterm, of which I’m striving to pass with flying colors, I need to ask a favor...the more information, data and details you can share with me about, well, your GENERAL EXISTANCE the better equipped I’ll feel when presented with hard questions like can I trust you to make the right choice, the one that will keep you safe so I don’t have to. I know that if I can fill in the blanks with the cold hard facts rather than information I’ve gathered from my own personal science experiment, then I have a good chance at succeeding when it comes to the final exam. (date set for this exam is the day you leave for college) I’m solely requesting JUST enough information to get me by to achieve a middle of the road “C” and JUST enough detail so that you don’t feel as though you are left unexposed, because, much to our dismay, parents aren’t supposed to know everything about their kids. If we can make this compromise...a trade of your information for my trust then I promise, in return, to give you plenty of time to experience Love, Life and Learning your OWN Lessons. I might even let you cross the monkey bars without hovering below to make sure you don’t fall. Oh who am I kidding, that’s going way too far. Baby steps people. Baby steps.