A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It's probably for the best that I won't have to deal with this at 60 (see, there is always a silver lining)

Last night I got really angry and upset and posted about my frustration with our 18 year old. I took the post off this morning as I didn’t really mean it. Well at the time I did however it wasn’t the proper forum for venting my anger at the stressed out and obnoxious teenager that is currently residing in the bedroom next to mine. I’ve pretty much shied away from posting about the trials of having an 18 year old, very strong willed, coming of age man in the house. One who knows everything so there is no need to try to convince him otherwise; forget about trying to point out alternative avenues to assist him achieve his goals in life and ease some of his burden. However this post isn’t really about him, it’s more about how we try and deal with the emotional luggage. Especially when one moment he is coming to me and spilling his heart out over his angst with a certain girl and the mess that is resulting from said relationship. I listen and advise and cross my fingers that he will make the right decision, however he has to walk his own road and I try not to be too opinionated. I just want him to know we will be waiting for him at the end of the road, no matter what the result. Then on a night like last night after the absolute horrid attitude he gives me, I find it hard to remember a goal I set out for myself during a particularly trying time that was occurring just before Christmas.

I continuously try and remind my husband that he shouldn’t feel so disappointed or let down by the sudden change in his eldest son’s behaviour. Kids go through all kinds of stages. Last July was a real turning point in our relationship with him though and as I mentioned, just before Christmas I’d decided I was done feeling exasperated and annoyed all the time – that was so 2010 and I’ve moved on. I’d decided that if he wants to play in the adult world he has to respect that he will be treated as an adult in all aspects of life, not just the ones he deems appropriate. (Call me hard if you will, I can take it.) However at the same time, it can be very difficult to turn on that 'hard' switch, especially when the 18 year old and I share the odd tender moment that used to be much more commonplace only a year ago. It's even harder to try and live by this motto when his dad and I are trying hard to respect the agreement we arrived at with him a few months ago, yet the lad seems to have forgotten his end of the deal. I’m tired of hearing that I’m ‘moaning’ at him all the time, when all I do is sometimes point out that he isn’t the only one that lives in our house. I’m not about riding kids all the time, however sometimes the boundaries are stretched to the limit and its time to say something. But boy can that kid exaggerate. If one listened to him you’d think I was nagging at him from morning to night, and that is so not the case. However I will spare you the examples as I do have to think of his privacy. See… I’m not that bad. Of course this doesn’t stop me from having a moan to my family, I do need some kind of outlet or one day I might explode. And who wants to clean up that mess?

I know that most parents go through various types of stress during all stages of their children’s lives, especially during the teenage years. You only need ask my mother, who was cursed blessed to have five children, three of whom were all teenagers at once (poor mom). But think about it… at least most parents have had the optimism of planning for and welcoming their children into the world.

A year and a half ago I had the pleasure of sharing in my sister’s joy as she grew ever more pregnant with Clara; I eagerly awaited photos and news of her ever expanding belly and loved chatting with her over how she was taking care of herself, and ultimately her baby. We talked about the impending birth and although it was a bit daunting, it was so exciting because at the end of it all she was going to have a beautiful little baby in her arms that would bring so much light to not only her life, but to all of ours. And how she does.

And now this year the same has happened with my sister-in-law, and once again I have welcomed another beautiful baby niece, Daisy into our family.

I know a lot of new mothers (and fathers) are tired, and that they worry about everything from childcare and sleeping/eating habits to the colour of their child’s poop. (Should it really be that colour green?) Yet this is what children bring – a life time of worry, but a whole world of joy (if you are lucky).

Like my sister(s), I'm sure most of you thought very carefully about and looked forward to the birth of your own child. You got to experience the expectation of a new baby and later of bringing that child home with you. Yes it might have been a shock at first even if you had nine months to get everything ready, but we all know that for most people it is a life changing experience when you first bring a baby home. Yet at the same time you have enjoyed all the little joys and milestones that go with having a new baby and small child. Even though there are plenty of difficult and scary moments, you still get to see that child grow and develop as they smile and toddle around your home. Never mind all the wonderful little cuddles.

Not me... I missed the bus and got morphed into a life with three children who were already past the first grade stage. Luckily for me the youngest was still pudgy with baby fat and so very adorable (for the most part, he still is) although he was only in our home periodically when I first moved here. There are all kinds of benefits to being a step-mom, especially one as hands on as I’ve been. Often the pro’s out weight the cons. But not lately.

I don’t want you to think that this post is about the fact that I don’t have a baby of my own, or is a whinge about having teenage step-children. It’s not. I'm ok now with not having my own baby. I just want those of you with babies and young children to cherish the moments you have with them because when they are older and being very hard on your head, it might help to save your sanity by being able to look back and remember the cherished moments you’ve had with your child; a time when they were grateful for what you could give them and didn’t have expectations of you that far exceed every boundary ever written. It might help during the moments when you would be very happy to vacate the premises permanently. Or worse, when you are up in the middle of the night wondering where they are because they couldn't be bothered to send you a text letting you know they weren't coming home. It’s so exhausting for parents to be kept awake all night by babies who need to be fed, or children who are ill, but at least those children are safe with you at home and look at you like you are the most important person to them in the whole world (because you are). I’ve never experienced this, yet I know it happens; I’ve seen it and have heard most of you talk about it. So cherish it because how the situation changes when they are almost grown and are out at all hours of the night, speak to you like you are dirt, assume the world revolves around them and that your only purpose is be their personal maid, cook and bank machine while not being allowed to have any expectations of them. And when they do show you a glimpse of the kid they used to be and want to open up about their life, you grab on like a starving man drinking water from a dirty puddle of water.

I didn’t get the pleasure of having a baby of my own but I got all the ‘joys’ that come with raising kids and today I wish I had a photo of my chubby baby boy to look back on and ask ‘what the hell happened to my sweet little child?’ . I’m not so cocky or naive enough to think I wouldn’t be going through this if he was born of my own flesh… most kids go through this stage no matter who births/raises them. I know this will pass, I just hope it’s before my husband and I decide to move and forget to tell him where we are going.

6 comments:

BayGirl said...

Hang in there, Jody. You are right...it is most likely a passing stage that he is going through.

It's funny that I should stumble upon this today...I've actually been doing a lot of thinking about my step-father lately. He came into our lives when I was 7 and my brother was 2. Long story short, I was horrible to him at times during my childhood and teenage years. However, that was followed by a whole lot of guilt later on. See, he never actually wanted kids initially...but he was the absolute best father anyone could have asked for.

It's a different situation entirely, but my point is that there is probably a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. When the 18 year old gets all the angst or whatever it is out of his system, grows, matures, and reflects, chances are he will feel as I do - filled with love and gratitude and wanting to make up for being so horrid right now.

Kristin said...

Jody I know EXACTLT where you are coming from. I spent all of Christmas vacation either angry with Karl or crying. He was absolutely hateful. I dreaded him coming home for Spring Break. Surprise, surprise he couldn't have been more pleasant and loving. Now last night on the phone we were back to the nasty behaviour. I know he is stressed but why does he always have to take it out on me!?? I will always love him more than he knows but I sure as hell don't like him all the time!!

Laraf123 said...

You are doing a great job raising those boys. The fact that you are able to weather these difficult times with insight and humor is inspiring. I already worry about the teenage years. I have no idea how I will handle them. With love I hope. Just like you.

JBrown31 said...

Jody

First I will say I do cherish these days with William and know that I'm truly blessed to be his Dad every single day.

Secondly, I'll say this... even though you did not birth that child your post explains how good of a parent you are... because you hold certain expectations of your step-son. You don't just turn off your bedroom light and go to sleep and let him wander the streets... you worry where he is and hold him accountable. Though you butt heads now he will look back at these days with respect for you for helping him become a responsible adult.

Anonymous said...

Staying out all night and leaving his parents to be up all night worrying? Who would do that? ;)

Cat

noinvitationrequired said...

Jody, this is so well written...so much so that I really wish I had such a well written comment to leave!!! But all I can say is that I think Step-parents are amazing people, who step in an love a child as if they had given birth to them. All parenting is very hard (and very joyous), and I hope after these hard time some great ones come out of it.

P.S. Can I say I am absolutely dreading having teenagers?:) I'm going to get it as good as I gave it!!!!!lol