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College Kid Heading Home? Release the Kraken!

Woman+Pulling+Hair+out

 

My daughter, a college freshman, comes home this week for her winter break.  This means my emotions — like every other college parent’s – are running the gamut of YayyyyyyyyyyOoooooooohhhhhNoooooooooo.

 

Cue in collective nods from those who have danced this dance before me.

 

She’s had four months of independent living, coming and going at leisure, not having to answer to anyone and doing whatever in the world she feels like at any time she feels like it.  These typical rites of college passage no doubt will make her transition back to home a nightmare of unparalleled proportions.

 

Guess I’d better get my thick-skin-suit out of storage.

 

We had a tiny bit of friction during the long Columbus Day weekend.  We had a bit more (cough) differences of opinion during Thanksgiving.  But let’s be real here.  A few argumentative moments here and there are nothing compared to the barrage of discontent that will fester over five weeks.

 

Five looooooooonnnnngggggg weeks of

 

… ridiculous rules (because ‘don’t start a load of laundry and then immediately leave the house for twelve hours’ is …unreasonable?)

 

… crazy curfews (because bars can kick people out soon after midnight but parents shouldn’t?)

 

… and outrageous expectations to be – I don’t know – an active member of this family (because popping in for an occasional meal or – dare to dream – coming out of a bedroom for more than fifteen minutes at a time is … irrational?).

 

Yes, we are all sorts of looney over here.  Poor kids – it’s just like West Point under this roof.

 

I know, I tell her, I remember.  My mother and I drove each other nuts every winter AND summer I was home.  I keep telling my daughter that, like it or not, it is the way of the world.  That it is something every college student since the beginning of time will go through.  Naturally my sage sentiments fall on deaf ears.   She tries to reason …

 

It’s not fair.

She’s responsible.

She’s intelligent.

She makes good choices.

(All true, I might add.  But then she’ll throw in some crazy statistic like …)

 

She’s the ONLY one with a curfew

(or, worse)

No one else’s mother even cares what they do or what time they came home.

(No one?)

Nope.  Not one.

I then call balderdash and bam! we’re right back to a Saturday Night Smackdown.  It’s sure to be a tough time but I’m ready.  My litany of retorts isn’t very creative but it’s plentiful.

 

This is not your dorm room.

Get used to it.

It is what it is.

I felt this way, too.

Because I love you.

Because I said so.

I do trust you.

It’s only about safety.

I understand.

I get it, I really get it.

and so on…

and so on..

But nothing is changing.

A mom is a mom is a mom.

 

 

Evidently we shall never see eye to eye on this but I imagine we’re not supposed to.  I just hope she doesn’t sulk away her vacation like Greta Grump and enjoy some of the time while she’s with us.

 

The house, while still busy and loud and messy … is a brighter place when she is here.   I so don’t want to be in Def-con 12 Battle Mode during the holidays.   I kinda just want to watch movies under fuzzy blankets with her … and do a little shopping … and share some late lunches … and well, just sorta be with her.  She’s eighteen and the years are moving her into adulthood faster than I can finagle.  FortheloveofGod, she’s talking about Africa next year. I just keep shaking my head.  And catching my breath some days.

 

Maybe, just maybe, she’ll go a little easy on the old lady and go with the curfew flow and pick up her room every few days.

 

Who knows.  It could happen.

 

Santa, you reading this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My "New Year's" card from a few years ago. Too crazed to pull off a Xmas shoot, I bribed & threatened to get this shot. My crew STILL holds a grudge ... can't imagine why ....

On Being a (Pretty Good) Mom (Sometimes)

In the hopes my children will never read this (or at the very least, lose interest midway through and click off like they usually do), I’ll make the mother of all confessions (no pun intended): at times I am not a great mom.

 

Now … It’s not a tragic scenario by any means.  I’ve never lost a kid at the mall (which, I might add, instantly places me in a winner’s circle without my sister), but I have been known to lose track of my ten-year-old’s last shower.  And I suspect that if Children’s Services ever caught wind of the actual number of times my kids’ sheets are changed, well, there might be some action taken.

 

But so far, to date (she said, knocking wood) none of my kids have a probation officer.  To quote Michael Buble, I’m feeling good.

 

Still, I’ve got some dirty diaper secrets my kids would have a field day with — especially the next time I’m ragging about a low B in Spanish.

 

I have signed homework sheets that I never really checked.

 

I’ve feigned sleep when I heard a screaming/puking/sneaking-in-past-curfew kid in the middle of the night just to allow my husband the opportunity to fly out of bed like a rocket and deal with it.

 

I’ve had the television entertain my little ones for hours at a time, just to talk on the phone a little longer or get my house clean.  And the violent video games that are rumored to melt brain cells? Let’s just say we take our chances.

 

I will say without shame that – until they’ve been old enough to realize it – I have skipped pages of bedtime stories.

 

I have sometimes not enforced regular teeth brushing with my toddlers because, I reason, they’re just going to fall out anyway….

 

And yes, I have driven past the library only to hear a tiny voice in the backseat say in wonder, “Hey, I remember that place – I think I was there once.”

 

My err, missteps have continued as my kids have gotten older.

 

I scoop wet towels off various floors and toss them in the dryer with a fabric sheet for days at a time before washing them (and I would scrunch up my eyebrows in profound judgment if I found out you didn’t).

 

I cut off my kids’ cell service the minute I cannot withstand one more minute of backtalk … and then forget to pick them up because I haven’t heard from them.

 

I’ve texted my kid’s coach –….um .. not … entirely … sober – and squawked about my kid’s playing time (a side note: if you’re going to try this, which I wholeheartedly do NOT recommend, make sure the coach is one helluva good guy).  Nevertheless, not an entirely proud moment.  Um, AT ALL.

 

 

And I’d have to admit, some of my best Mom Moments are a little unorthodox.  For instance, I keep my cell phone charger in my underwear drawer and make sure my kids know it.  Why?  Because should it go missing – like all chargers do – I want my kids – especially my boys – to know they’d be fishing around through my panties in order to get to it.

 

I still haven’t ordered my daughter’s prom dress because she still hasn’t cleaned her room.  And that was our deal – that it had to be Mom Clean.

 

And I’ve changed the locks on one particular occasion to make a rebellious teen know for damn sure that I was completely, unquestionably, irrevocably done with his nonsense.

 

But I have to admit, it’s not hopeless..

 

I’m pretty sure that for every really (really) lousy thing I do (or, in the case of the sheets, don’t do), I make up for it in other ways.  For instance, I kiss my kids.  A lot.  And I tell them I love them — all the time.  The words are spoken so often that I now possess three sons in various stages of development who actually say it back to me:  in front of their friends, over their shoulders as they’re scooting out the door, and (yes, sir) when they’re mad at me.

 

(One time, when it dawned on me that my ornery ‘tween was attempting to become an ornery ‘tween Bedroom Mole, I demanded impromptu hug practices and made him stand locked in an embrace with me until he smiled.)  Whatever it takes.

 

My home is extremely dusty at times (here comes a pat on the back from nobody-cares-about-your-undone-chores-Oprah;  you know, spoken as if she’s one of us) and my inability to remember details makes it impossible for me to recall the name of the last antibiotic any of my kids were prescribed.

 

But I know I’m a pretty good mom regardless.  I watch my kids all the time.  Not in the “Get back here, a stranger’s going to steal you!” kind of way, but in a fascinated, still-can’t-believe-they’re-mine way.   A profound failure in keeping baby books, I do, however, try to write down both wonderful and ordinary things about our daily lives.  When I noticed my little guy’s SpongeBob underwear clear through his little white baseball pants during his very first tee-ball game, I jotted it down.  It was without question the cutest thing I’d ever seen.

 

And when my toddler loudly pointed out during an extremely crowded Easter mass that “Mommy, look, they all drink wine like you do at home!” much as I wanted to die, I wrote that down, too.

 

Nowadays I don’t have to write much down since I can immediately promote their perfections and pitfalls on (ta da!) blogs and Facebook.

 

Life’s too short to dwell on dirty sheets.  Tru dat, Oprah.

 

Kids make you crazy.  But when they’re in the back seat of a Suburban giggling over the stupidest of stupid bad-gas jokes, they make you giggle, too.  And every now and then when you’re ready to lock yourself in the bathroom for just five more minutes before your head explodes off your neck, they’ll do something unexpected and delightful to make you unlock that door.

 

When they were little, when they’d hear Barry White come out of the speakers they’d seek me out (“Mom, it’s your soooooooong!”) and spontaneously dance with me in our kitchen. How’s that for an upper?

 

Now that they’re older and (gulp) out in public without me, I’ll get the mother of all compliments (again, no pun intended) when I least expect it, sometimes from complete strangers:

 

You’ve got great kids.

 

I’m thinking a terrible mom would never be able to pull that off.

 

So I’ll be keeping my phone charge in my underwear drawer, thankyouverymuch.

 

 

 

 

 

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