The idea for this book was derived a super long time ago, during one Christmas break when my then-teenaged daughter stopped talking to me (for a mountain of reasons that will be peppered throughout this momoir but really, it happened so often, does it matter?). She was grounded for the entire vacation and I was committed to making sure she didn’t bolt or sneak out so I stayed home, too, (you will soon see why I’ve crowned myself the Mother of all Martyrs). Misery may love company but cutting off a teenager from her friends is really quite satisfying. I had a lot of free time so I just started taking notes. Lots and lots of notes. (A side note: I take notes all the time because again, I am of a certain age and can only remember song lyrics of my youth. Remember when I wrote on cocktail napkins to remember details of my hilarious cruise?) Digressing again. Anyway …
Ironically, she’d been pestering me to write a book for a long time. Of course at that time her literary requirements consisted of summer love and vampires so I’m hoping she’s not too alarmed at what emerged from her urging. Had she known my first attempt would be (somewhat) at her expense she might’ve toned down her behavior a notch, but hey, a book’s a book.
The last of my four children is now a teenager so I’d like to think I’ve gotten a decent handle on this adolescent thing. You know – that out-of-the-blue explosion of angst and rage and emotion that’s been known to destroy a family dinner with a single grunt. One thing I’ve found is it is significantly easier dealing with irrational adolescent behavior when someone you know has already experienced it. For example, one time upon hearing my daughter threaten to turn me into the authorities I (naturally) called her bluff, scoffing, “Go ahead – make the call.”
In retelling that story (who wouldn’t?) I discovered that my friend Jerry had a way better response when it happened to him. He shouted back to his insolent teen, “Go ahead – make the call – and tell them to bring a body bag because they’ll be making a pick up!”
See? Older and wiser plus additional experience equals a far funnier story. I love Jerry.
It pays to surround yourself with people who have weathered earlier storms because someone else’s story will always top yours and you might realize we all come out of this alive.
Like I said, I’m no expert but I am somewhat experienced. I know I’ve got more melodrama headed my way but for the record I’ve already survived:
A kid sneaking out of the house after I’d gone to bed. Repeatedly.
A kid coming home high.
A kid lying, stealing, drinking, plagiarizing, and being an all-around dickhead.
A kid packing up a duffle bag and moving out six days before his high school graduation.
And about a gazillion other dizzying incidents that – God willing — may seem uproarious many, many years down the road.
That’s really my only goal here: to one day find each excruciating and hellish kid antics humorous in some small way. I think parenting is easier when you believe it might.
Haha, remember that year you got so angry you threw all your Christmas presents in the garbage?
Remember when you fried your laptop by spilling nail polish remover into it?
Hey, wasn’t that hilarious when you left all those wet towels on the floor and they permanently warped your floorboards?
Ohmygod how funny was that when you lost two cell phones in two months?
For sure, those are some things that were absolutely UNfunny when they were happening in real time. But man, oh man, I think we all need to believe they will be one day. I’m a big believer in camaraderie and an even bigger advocate in the healing power of laughter. I think the world’s a prettier place with daily laughs and nightcaps, and Tylenol PM and a sound machine (oh wait, nevermind, that’s my bedtime list) so I try to look on the brighter side of say, wanting to punch your kid in the face, and I always try to look for that clichéd light at the end of the tunnel. It’s always best if that light isn’t an oncoming freight-train of a kid’s hormonal fury but deep breathing helps. Sometimes.
Let’s be real: kids suck a lot of the time. They really do. They test your inner core and oftentimes leave you questioning where you went wrong. They make you wonder how their once-adoring eyes could ever hold such genuine resentment of you. They continuously criticize you, and complain about you, and keep so much of their real selves hidden that you’re convinced they were swapped in the hospital. But we stick to the plan because at some moment in a lifetime a hundred years ago we, too, loathed our lame parents the exact same way. I think deep down we all know that one day this moment in time will be amusing and our Good Kid is going to return and we might actually like each other again. It’ll happen. Right?
I’m here to attest that yes, it will.
Hopefully your good days outnumber your sucky ones because – especially if your children are still small — there will definitely be some doozies to come. Just remember that despite their declarations to the contrary, we are all good moms doing our best. If you’re like me, you’re making some major-ass mistakes (letting my 11-year-old be the Beer Pong ringer at his cousin’s grad party? Perhaps not my finest mom moment) but at least we’re learning as we go.
My missteps have continued as my kids have gotten older.
I scoop wet towels off various floors and toss them in the dryer every day without washing them. Every. Single. Day.
I also cut off my kids’ cell service when I couldn’t withstand one more minute of backtalk … and then forgot to pick them up because I hadn’t heard from them.
There was also a time (only once, I swear) when I texted my kid’s coach (perhaps … not … entirely … sober) to squawk about his playing time (a side note: if you’re going to try this, which I wholeheartedly do NOT recommend, first make sure the coach is one helluva good guy). Nevertheless, not an entirely proud moment. AT ALL.
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 find it.
I wouldn’t order my daughter’s prom dress because she didn’t clean her room. And that was our deal – that it had to be Mom Clean first. But it never was. So guess what? She borrowed a dress and – gasp! – lived. If you can imagine, that scene was absolutely apocalyptic at the time (upcoming chapter entitled Got Girls? Get Wine) and (irony) I’m sure she doesn’t even remember that story now.
I’ve even changed the locks to make a rebellious teen know for damn sure that I was completely, stick-a-fork-in-me done with his nonsense.
I’m amassing a pretty extensive list but I don’t let it get me down. It pays to remember: The worst thing you will ever experience has always been weathered by someone else. I try to focus on the fleeting blips of positive. I’m pretty sure that for every really (really) lousy thing I do (or, in the case of changing sheets, don’t do), I make up for it in other ways. For instance, even though they tower over me now, I still kiss my kids a lot. And I tell them I love them all the time. I always have. The words are spoken so often that I now possess three sons who actually say it back to me even without a money transaction: in front of their friends, over their shoulders as they’re scooting out the door, and (yes, sir) sometimes even when they’re mad at me. And teens are mad a lot. One time, when it dawned on me that my moody and excessively 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. We’re moms. We’ll do whatever it takes.
My home is pretty nasty at times (here comes my pat on the back from nobody-cares-about-your-undone-chores-Oprah; you know, spoken as if she’s one of us and might have some dust in her life) but I know I’m a pretty good mom regardless. There are still moments when I watch my kids from afar. 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.
Nowadays I don’t have to write much down since I can immediately promote their perfections and pitfalls in my blogs and the super honest billboard of Facebook (insert many laughing emojis) but one thing’s for sure: these babies grow up when we’re not even looking and life is too damn short to dwell on dirty sheets and sour demeanors.
Yes, oh yes, kids do suck. But when they’re in the back seat of a (cough, extremely cool) minivan giggling over the stupidest of stupid bad-gas jokes, they suck a little less and 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. I loved those moments. It’s all about the moments.
My kids may roll their eyes at my I-pod but hell to the yeah, they know all my songs.
Now that they’re older and (* makes the sign of the cross) out in public without me, every now and then I’ll get the mother of all compliments (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 yeah, I’ll be keeping my phone charge in my underwear drawer, thankyouverymuch, because who knows, maybe I just may be onto something here.
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Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:
Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/
Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and recently was featured in Huff Post. She appeared in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook & @Eyerollingmom on Instagram. Her collection of essays, A Momoir, can be found here (agent interest ALWAYS WELCOME!)