The other day, a woman I know (who has, apparently, been living under a rock and is the last person in my real – as opposed to cyber – life to hear the tale of my family’s adventure) told me that she had heard I had a “mommy blog”. My initial reaction was one of wonderment over what she was referring to. Mine is not a “mommy blog”. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) For starters, it has been no fewer than seven years since anyone has called me mommy not to mention the fact that my kids were early adopters of the more cultured “mom”. (I would venture that there are people who may refer to me as a MotherF-er, but never a mommy.)
No, mine is more of a parenting or, more precisely, a hopefully-not-in-vain-attempt-to-successfully-navigate-the-paths-of-two-growing-children-one-who-happens-to-identify-as-transgender blog. I profess nothing and am the first to cast doubt on any successes I may happen upon. I parent as I was parented: on pure intuition. (Okay, I get by with a little help from my friends, my own mother, my brothers, school administrators, shrinks and pediatricians, but mostly intuition.) Since having learned all about what to expect when I was expecting and then, what I should expect the first year, I have learned to expect nothing. I have learned to assume nothing. Further, I have learned that my folks had it right when they opted to go with their guts when they hopped on the parenting bus back in, gulp, 1959 when my brother David was born.
Here’s the thing: this parenting gig never ends no matter if you are mommy, mom or mother. I have solid proof of this as just yesterday I spent close to an hour on the phone with my mother in a discussion during which I came frighteningly close to calling her mommy and asking her to rub my back while I sucked my thumb and went to sleep. Poor thing was just minding her own business when suddenly her iPhone starts to vibrate and I am on the other end expecting (needing? wanting?) her to have the answers to all my problems – of which there are many. I would venture a guess that a part of her wished she had let me go to voicemail, but to her credit, she did not. I myself have wished for a voicemail system within the confines of my family room so that I can be “unable to take a call” from my children who are sitting next to me, usually in some state of need.
I have learned over the years that I prefer events in my life to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Pregnancy: you get pregnant, are pregnant, give birth. Done. Buying a home: you search for one, find one, make an offer on one, get a mortgage on one, pass papers. Done. ER visits: Your kid has a raging pain in his lower left quadrant, you go to the hospital, he has an appendectomy, he goes home. Done. These are things that begin and end. Parenting does not fall into that category. It begins but then never ends rather goes on and on and on and on…
Lest you mistake my curmudgeonly ramblings for disdain, let me assure you that I adore my children and would, in fact, do any- and everything in my power to make their lives happy, healthy and productive. I am their fiercest ally and strongly suggest that G-d help he who chooses to wrong my kid. I’ve long embraced a mantra: mess with me, don’t mess with my kids. However, in the interest of keeping things real, I am here to say that the prospect of my role being eternal sometimes (okay, often) feels mind-boggling.
I adapted fairly easily to the baby years, due in part, I am sure, to the fact that my children were kind enough to be good eaters, excellent sleepers and were devoid of colic or spitting up and were born seven full years apart. As toddlers, however, they both regularly drove me to the brink of insanity, but I somehow managed to persevere and not leave either by the side of the road. (Aside: when I was 11, my parents – in a brave move – loaded my two brothers and me up in the Vista Cruiser station wagon and embarked on a six-week drive cross-country. (We may well have been the inspiration for the movie “Vacation”.) Anyway, at one point during that trip, on a long, desolate stretch of highway somewhere in the middle of the country my father had had enough of my brother and me arguing, pulled over and simply said, “Get out”. I scrambled out on the verge of total hysteria, my brother was laughing. He understood that we were at an off-ramp which would enable my father to easily loop around and retrieve us. I did not share in that understanding. My father, whom I adored, literally left us on the side of the road. It was the last time in that 6,000 mile car trip that my brother and I fought. For those who know me personally, this probably need not be said, but it was Robbie. Surprising? No.)
As the years went on, I was foolishly lulled into thinking that I was in the middle of my parenting life, but I now know that I am still at the beginning. The middle will be right around the time they are off, married and having babies (yeah, good luck with that) and the end will be, well, um, when I cease to exist.
What lies ahead remains a mystery. I am confident there will be plenty of events with beginnings, middles and endings. I am more confident that there is no end to the biggest event of all…being a parent. My “mommy” days have long ago passed, but this winding, pothole infested, speed trap ridden, stretch of road with off ramps spread way too far apart is here for the duration. I just hope this jalopy of mine can go the distance and that there is some halfway decent signage along the route.