Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Doing the Best I Can

Whoever said parenting is easy was smoking crack. The truth is, it breaks your heart over and over and over again.

My heart is broken.

And I'm really angry.

I'm torn about how much to say, as my kids do deserve some semblance of privacy. As a lesbian mom, I am always worried about anything negative that happens will be framed by the right wing as reason why we shouldn't parent.

The weight of having to be perfect is heavy. Ask the Goodridges.

The normal course of life, however, is that teenagers are difficult. All teenagers, regardless of their parents. Often in spite of their parents, to be perfectly honest. It's their job to be miserable, moody, impulsive, and our jobs to keep them safe.

We have entered the cat and mouse game of sexual activity. Parents are trying to keep their kids from having sex and of course, kids are trying to have sex at any possible moment.

Information, my friend who counsels high school kids said, is key.

Their bodies are no longer little- but their brains are, without a doubt, not fully developed. All the information in the world isn't going to stop them from being impulsive.

That doesn't make me a bad mother.

Right?

I feel like a bad mother. When I was growing up, the only talk about sex was... um... okay, there was never a talk about sex. I had a book placed on my pillow one night about girls and menstruation. The next day there were pads under the sink, along with a ridiculous belt you wore them with. I promised myself I would talk to my kids about sex in an age appropriate way, from the beginning.

I believe we have. While on vacation, I had to leave the table because I was having a majorly embarrassing womanly moment. Damn perimenopause means having a teenagers cycle again- crazy, completely unpredictable and accompanied by hot flashes. Jake asked me later why I left.

I was having a womanly moment.

What's that? he asked.

I said, you want me to talk about a woman's cycle and menstruation?

Jake stared laughing, Noooooo, not again!

I've tried. Sexual activity at a young age, however, is my Achilles heel. Is it consensual? Can it ever really be when you are only 14 and impulsive is the name of the game? Will it be a wonderful thing or a scarring thing?

I only know scars. I never want my kids to have scars.

But they will. And as much as I've tried to protect them, they will make bad choices and get hurt. Nothing to be done.

Thus the broken heart.

I am navigating a different world- kids meet on myspace, facebook, have relationships developed over the internet. I had a telephone in the kitchen, where my mother could hear every word I said, not to mention the party line. Is it fair to judge the quality of their relationships based on my experience? With video chatting, texting and IM's... who is to say that's not a way to get to know someone?

What are good boundaries anymore?

I don't expect my kids to wait until marriage to have sex. But I do expect them to be responsible, respectful and good lord, protected. Clearly, that doesn't always happen.

Thus the anger.

A very wise woman told me this morning, a mother of two adult sons, that mothers simply have a hard time trusting our sons. We question their ability to navigate the world. I said, well, considering half of the adult men I know act and think like teenagers, yes. I agree. I don't trust them.

She smiled and said, but you have to. For their sake.

Back to the broken heart.

Please forgive my being cryptic. Know that I have been to the very bottom of the parenting barrel for the last few days, feeling like the worst one ever. I know- it's not about me. I'm trying to crawl out of my narcissism and make sense of it all.

Brace myself for two more trips down this road. As Ben often points out to me, You've never had a teenager before!

So true. Problem is, I was one. And not necessarily a very well behaved one, contrary to his beliefs.

All I can know, in my heart, is that I'm doing the best that I can.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Ian said...

Trust me, You are doing great as a Mom.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Sue J said...

What Ian said ....

1:35 PM  
Anonymous mommyp said...

Thank you for being so honest. Anyone who can identify their emotions like you cannot be a bad mother.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

Let's face it- we're not evolved in our bodies and minds to where we are in society. Back when people only lived to be about thirty it was of major importance to impregnate and be impregnated in the early teens. And young men (boys) had to be crazy and strong enough to go off and hunt the woolly mammoth and bring it back for food. In gangs.
When you're the mother of a teen, you're fighting not only the craziest hormonal rushes in a lifetime, you're also fighting all this damn technology.
It is HARD!
The one thing I know, after having raised four kids of my own is that you just have to keep loving them. And yes, trust is important but hell- you have to have a reason to trust.
You do the best you can do and you keep loving them and you try to talk to them and you try to keep a sense of humor and you try to remember the woolly mammoth and somehow it all comes out okay. You will be older, grayer, and far wiser. Your kids will be alive and one day in the distant future, one of them will say, "Mama, I should tell you about some of the things I did," and you will say, "Oh no. Really. You don't." Because you know your heart wouldn't stand it.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous donald said...

you are doing a fine job! just remember not every young sexual experience is a bad one, just because yours was. when i was 14 i was having consentual sex, so yes it can happen. you want them to be perfect, all parents do. but you forget how you were an imperfect child yourself. all will be fine if you give them the knowledge they need to navigate through these years, which i know you are. hang in there!

5:32 PM  
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5:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

donald, nice.

4:30 PM  
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4:33 AM  
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6:17 AM  

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