Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Growing Up vs. Giving Up

Growing up or giving up? You get to a point where is becomes hard to tell the difference. For the last 18 years I have controlled my kids whole world. And I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.

 I mean, it's not like I'm a control freak or anything. It's just that I'm a control freak. This was my job and I took it seriously.

I was in charge of all the food they ate, so of course we have had organic fruits and veggies, and farm-raised grass-fed minimally processed meat. We even joined a CSA and had fresh vegetables delivered from the farm to our door once a week. There is no soda in the house, and no chips or cookies. That is more about me than them, but whatever. However,  because I didn't want them to develop an un-natural fixation on foods, they were always allowed to order soda in a restaurant and eat whatever they wanted at friends houses and birthday parties. See how I perfectly threaded that needle?

Homegrown tomatos

I was in charge of the TV shows. My kids were not allowed to watch Spongebob Squarepants until they were 6 years old because it was too mature for them. Spongebob! And they were also not allowed to watch TV with commercials, or anything scary, or Calliou, because he is a whiny little shit.

I was so proud the day my son convinced me to go to McDonalds for a treat and my 4 year old daughter asked "Do I have to eat this? Can I just eat at home?"

And when that same son was shocked! Shocked I tell you! at 7 years old to discover that if you wanted a cookie, you could just buy one, you didn't have to bake them yourself!

Oh yeah. I was one of those Moms.

They always did all the homework as it was required, turned it in when it was due, and every project contained all the elements of the grading rubric!

Science Fair project

Everyone had baths on the appointed days and went to bed at the appointed hour. And they were happy about it.

We had all the requisite fun and loving elements of childhood too. Decorating for the holidays? Check. Trips to Disneyland? Check. Riding horses, quads, and camping? Check. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts? Check. Family reunions, trips to the beach, church on Sundays, bedtime stories, family dinner at the table every night? Check, check, check.

Christmas at Disneyland

It required some effort, but I managed. Right up until they became teens. I thought that all my foundation work, all the wonderful things I had instilled in them would carry them through the high school years and right into college.  I could just put that stuff behind me and focus on supervising social media and harping about drugs and alcohol while visiting colleges.

So you can imagine my surprise when that didn't work out.

We have had our fair share of supervising social media, to be sure. Drugs and booze haven't come into play yet, but I have decided thats probably more luck than anything. Visiting colleges? We are doing our first this weekend but Thing 1 has decided he MUST have a "gap year." I have been repeatedly informing him he isn't British royalty, but he won't listen.

And while we are having all these Very Important Conversations, I have noticed some things. Things that make me feel like I have failed miserably, not only now, but back then too.

I am arguing the merits of college straight out of high school with someone who is drinking a Monster energy drink and eating a hot pocket. While his sister sits in the living room watching American Horror Story. Both have a C's in at least one subject due to assignments that were not turned in and family dinner is becoming a thing of the past. The punk rock blasts from one bedroom and the foul mouthed rap comes from another. And bedtimes? The only reason Thing 2 goes down at anything resembling a reasonable hour is because she is bewitched by sleep. Thing 1? I have no idea when he finally goes to bed.

So, it leaves me wondering....are they growing up or am I giving up?

Yes. Both. 

Sometimes I am so irritated from checking the online grades and chasing Spanish assignments to care whether or not they are drinking a Monster drink. And some days Im just so over it from everything else that I can't be bothered if they walk in at 5:30 p.m. with Chik-Fil-A, a double whammy as it is fast-food and interferes with family dinner! They drive now and they have their own money, so this stuff is easy to come by. Every single day I am too tired to stay up long enough to figure out if Thing 1 ever went to sleep. 

But then there are days when I think to myself "No! I will not give up! Hot pockets are not even food!" So I make stuffed zucchini with veggies grown in our own garden. And in an occasional burst of conscience, I change the Netflix password and clear off the DVR, but it is honestly an uphill battle and I know it.

I try to calm myself with memories of my own childhood. We were only allowed to eat Cheerios as a cereal, so we went down the street to my dear friend Heidi's house and ate her sugar coated cereals all the time. We were only allowed to have McDonalds on our birthdays, so we clamored for it when we were at my cousins house. And all through my 20's the little kids across the street thought I was the coolest adult ever because I had Cocoa Puffs. I turned out OK, right?

Lucky Charms

Then I think that there are so many more problems we could be having, so many things that other parents are battling, parents who would willingly hand their kid a bag of chips and the DVD of Texas Chainsaw Massacre without a second thought, that I am an asshole for even worrying about this garbage. 

So yes, they have grow up and are asserting their little bits of independence. And yes, I have given up on a lot of things I once imagined were really important. We will all survive.

At the end of the day I take comfort in the fact that they were healthy for the first 14 or so years and hopefully that will be enough to ward off anything bad until they return to their senses. 

Except for that "gap year." That thing is the kiss of death, but I am realizing that its a battle that I may not win because in the end, it isn't my life to control.


  1. Very well written! You managed to put my life into I've come to realize that life is but a series of little victories! Hold on to what you can...

  2. Very well written! You managed to put my life into I've come to realize that life is but a series of little victories! Hold on to what you can...