As a bit of a cunning linguist (ha), I am constantly paying attention to the words used in daily conversations. It’s not just what I’m paid to do, it’s a thing I do and cannot recall ever not doing since becoming a quasi-adult.
I often get called out on it in positive ways-“you have such a way with words” “you are so clear and concise” “you could convince me of anything”.
Sometimes I get called out in not-so-positive ways-“drunk, philosopher Mel visited and everything was a ‘thing'” “you always have to be right”, etc.
Lately, though, I’ve been called out on being…confusing?…when it comes to talk of the sprogs. This usually comes from romantic interests and in the form of “you know, you talk about them, but never in the way most parents do” or “you never mention their names”.
And I don’t. Deliberately. On purpose. Rarely do I refer to them by name. This is in part due to being a social media whore. Both of the sprogs are now on twitter and Facebook and we’re learning to navigate that landscape together, but I’ve always had a vested interest in keeping their selves out of my social media whoredom, protecting their identities, and still talking about all of the kooky, enraging, head-scratch-inducing things that they do because sharing space with and being the primary caregiver to two growing humans is about 183% of what I do.
Last weekend I worked a bar shift at which I was recognized more for being the mother of my loin fruits than the weird Kardashian infamy I’ve somehow established in this town. Even my co-bartender commented on it-“more people know your kids than me!”-and he’s a reputable musician about town. ‘Surreal’ only scratches the surface of that experience. It was eye-opening. The ankle-biters I share space with have begun to establish their own reputations…and they’re GOOD reputations. And now I kinda get why the son got so bent out of shape about being blanked by his friend’s family because they believed he brought and left pot at a party (another tale for another time). He has a reputation to uphold. Whoa.
Which leads to the second part of me being called out; rarely do I refer to them as mine. This is also deliberate. Not because I don’t want to be associated with them, but because I don’t ever want them to be anyone’s but their own. I joke with them when they do stupid shit like opening cans with their teeth-“those teeth are mine until you’re 18!”-or when they’re running off to rugby/football games-“your ass had better not come home broken because it’s mine until you’re 18!”, but I don’t believe a word of it. Pretty sure they don’t either as they still open cans with their teeth and come home from playing with busted asses.
This is not to say that I’m not a fiercely protective mama. I have blacklisted people, some of them ranked as Really Good Friends, for being disrespectful of the sprogs. It’s rare for me to intervene because they are strong people and have all the words they require to fight their own battles, but sometimes I gotta have their backs, ya know?
Still, I don’t own them. They are their own owners. The language I use when I speak of them aligns with that belief that I feel to the core of my being. It doesn’t change me feeling incredibly proud to be their mum when they win awards, get good grades, stand up for themselves, or just wake up being the amazing, gorgeous people they are. Nor does it change me feeling deeply ashamed when they fuck up-because they do, and will continue to have their fuck ups, just as I will-but I own those feelings. I do not own them.
I can only hope that they get that. Sometimes my language does speak of ownership. With them, I find my self saying things like “that’s my baby” be it out of pride or eye rolling. Usually, our language around each other doesn’t matter because our relationships are built on actions-not arguing when asked to take out the trash, getting take-out for each other, and mutual foot rubs over talks of how infuriating romantic interests can be.
I went into parenthood like a deer caught in headlights and still feel that way every single day, but sharing space with and caring and being responsible for the upbringing of two human beings never ceases to be an adventure and, in some ways, very harrowing work. My goal has always been to raise sprogs who are themselves and own their selves. So far, it seems I’ve done ok.
Why didn’t you want to take my picture? Why didn’t you want to capture me in those moments of honesty while I was singing my ass off to Aimee Mann while doing dishes, or cuddling in bed with the dog? Why didn’t you gently take my hand and tell me you just wanted to feel me close during the movie instead of rolling your eyes when I said ‘I need to go to bed’? Why did you never adorably ball your fists in frustration when we teased ourselves by making out at times we couldn’t have each other? Why were you so sure you could wait? Why could I never turn you on that much? Why did you need to make big things out of little things? Why couldn’t you let those little things go? Why did you not pursue your interests, your friends, new friends? Why did you adopt mine? Why did you get so comfortable? Why did you always stay up late only to be frantic and pissy with me in the morning? Why did you always lament what every else has? Why did you not see what you had? Why did you say the words of recognition, but refuse to do anything to change it? Why did you leave me in denial of a situation spiraling out of control? Why did you make me the one to say ‘enough is enough’? Why do I have to hold the bag of guilt for that? Why did you stay when you knew you didn’t love me?
I’m feeling like a bit of a shite parent today. Yesterday was an incredibly rough day at work as we went through a restructuring that saw a few familiar faces, some of them I call friends, lose their jobs. Always a sad, scary and angering experience that leaves one feeling terribly vulnerable.
I ended up keeping the poor daughter up far later than I should have after inviting some nerds over for a much-needed steam-blowing. Trying to play that out today has been tough. I usually try to keep weeknights pretty quiet, but this was one of those things that needed to be done. I wasn’t in a position of ‘I’ll just put this venting off until the weekend after I’ve sat and stewed on it’. I needed friends. More so, I needed friends who could empathize and with whom I could share feelings and be silly with.
I feel terribly about keeping her up. That kind of stress-relief is difficult to explain to the sprog. I dread to say ‘next time I’ll plan better’, because I really don’t want a next time.
It’s September and, after a rather dramatic and traumatic summer, I’m ready for autumn homebody activities and stews and sweaters and long wool skirts.
I took some time off a few weeks ago to lick my wounds and heal after a particularly devastating series of events. Some of them were necessary, others outside my control (death isn’t something I can really do anything about) and it all left me feeling very vulnerable an hurt. I took my healing time to really dig deep into my core values and realized that I hadn’t been honouring them by inviting people into my life who also didn’t honour them. I did a lot of rage cleaning – my home was a DISASTER zone after living with a housemate an her dog in my main living space and shutting down the cleaning, house-proud portion of my brain for MONTHS due to not being able to wrap my head around keeping it up in my own ways and in my own time. It’s a terrible side-effect of both depression and ADHD that I end up sabotaging my own happiness like that.
So I changed it in those healing days and then come into the light a little more because it feels SO good to provide that lack of chaos to myself an my family.
I’ve stayed relatively low-key since then, not going out much, but having people over who do honour my values and I theirs. I took some more time off last week to enjoy hanging out in my newly uncluttered space – drawing and cooking and entertaining. It felt good. The kitchen’s a write-off again, but it doesn’t feel unmanageable having gone a month with getting dishes done before bed every night.
I also went out on a limb and went on a date. I don’t feel ready for a relationship, but the circumstances in both of our situations are…special. And accommodate both of our limitations in terms of what we have to give. I’m glad I did it. He’s such a feel-good person and made me feel special and sexy and accepted in such a short period of time without pushing boundaries. Even if things don’t work out romantically, I really hope we continue to hang out from time to time. I’m excited just to see where this goes. I like the adventure of getting to know a new person.
I have a handful of reasons to be excited and things to look forward to.