The vitriol that a teen girl can spew rivals the “fire and fury” two heads of state are currently hurling at each other. And there are days when I think such…. “commentary” … on my appearance… my maternal skills… my very existence …is accurate. Because you, my beloved 13 1/2-year-old, are right: I don’t remember every, single, millisecond by millisecond detail of the life I’ve scheduled off the top of my head — that’s why I calendar things. In a paper journal. Yes, because I’m old. No, I can’t look at it while I’m driving. Yes, I do want you to change. Why? Because I know that the fierce spirit that I love beyond measure needs to be nurtured, channeled, crafted into a person who can sit through an hours-long standardized test, one who pays attention to at least some details of this life. You’re right I am a terrible, horrible no good, very bad mother.
But then, lest I spiral down into alcoholism, drug addiction or suicidal depression, I force myself to chat with my secret weapon: perspective. I’m so far from a perfect mother that merely typing the words in a personal essay is laughable.
But… I’ve got perspective.
I’ve never hit my children. Ever. Okay, there was that Sunday afternoon … a while ago … when Her Fierceness and her little brother were jumping, in tandem, on my very last nerve … where a board book was sacrificed. But the scars were only on paper … and cardboard … the wall against which I flung the book had not a mark. And neither did the slack-jawed kids who actually picked up their toys.
I’m not the anti-Christ of mothers. I don’t starve my children, they never had to fester in a filthy diaper, I clothe them well, I show up to all performances, mother/daughter events and parent-teacher conferences… sober even…. and there are some off-key, children’s presentations where I know other parents were praying to Bacchus right along with me.
I try. I try hard every, single, fucking day. I try. To teach you to love yourself. To love improving yourself. To strive for excellence. To forgive yourself easily when you can’t quite hold onto that golden nugget.
And I love you. I love you enough to sit with white knuckles as you stumble on life’s path, tip-toeing along the sidelines should you fall too hard. I love you enough to fight for you. I love you enough to fight with you. To vanquish the temptress, “Okay, fine, go ahead and have it your way.” To stand my ground because I know you can make it up to the summit.
I love you even when I don’t particularly like you. I love you enough. And for today that’ll have to do. This parenting gig is a long-haul job — I’ll go back to loving you more than life itself tomorrow — when you’ll hopefully be less of a raging bitch.