The Long and Winding Road

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.

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50 thoughts on “The Long and Winding Road

      • You are so right about the infinity-ness of parenting. It’s just so miserable challenging with twists and turns and cliffs and boulders popping up at the most unexpected moments and it never stops. Although there are obviously wonderful and touching moments, there are long periods where they are far and few between. I am often overwhelmed by parenting and I completely understand the whole “they did the best they could” approach. Nevertheless, they kids are here and we love them and they are ours, so we carry on. So carry on! Thx again for this blog.

  1. This is an awesome post…so true…love the story about your dad’s oh-so-brilliant move in the car! The only moderately comparable proud parenting moment I had was when I, extremely straight-faced, told Alex that I was just about finished with the applications to boarding school…he thought I was dead serious and has been moderately nice to me ever since! (please note –no offense to anyone who has kids in boarding school)…this parenting journey is daunting but most of us wouldn’t trade it in (maybe lease it out for a bit?!)….while the road really never ends, it is important to take many off-ramps and rest stops — preferably alone at times to refuel and recharge our batteries….and then get back on the road and see where it takes us….ok, I am done with the car/travel metaphors….xxxooo:)

      • Sunday morning…My mom and I leave at 8:00am for Wrentham to have breakfast and hit the outlets by 10 am….don’t return until after 3pm or whenever we feel like it….Best. Mother’s. Day. Ever. — it has been 3 years and counting since we finally figured out how to have a great mother’s day…we have room in the car if you want to join us….

  2. Thanks so much. At least you could pick up your iphone and dial your mom. At 81, where do I look for adult wisdom? As a person who was a central figure in raising my adored transgender godson, I need to pass along that he is graducating from college next week, has found his first job and is creating a life with a smile on his face. Do I still wake up at night worrying about the pitfalls – and boy am I good at imagining the pitfalls – ? You bet I do. But this happened, he’s a superb human being and it was just something life put on my path. Good luck, Julie!

    • Isn’t it funny that we never truly feel like adults? My father’s father died when I was 12 and my father was 40. I clearly recall thinking that it wasn’t so bad for my dad since he was all grown up and didn’t need parenting anymore. Then, when my father died when I was 40 I knew how wrong I had been…

      And congratulations on a job clearly well done with your grandson. That’s one lucky kid right there!

  3. “Having babies (yeah, good luck with that)” CRACKED me up..as you always do, as opposed to the crack that you had the pleasure of staring at at the gym.
    I’ve been thinking about this parenting thing too, lately. They drive me nuts, I want a mute button rather than the voice mail option in my family room, but I’m starting to see they are growing up, needing me less, will go to college (I’m already getting sad that camp is coming)…it’s so all or nothing, can’t we find a medium road to parenting? Ha, good luck with that one, too!

  4. I love my 3 children more than life itself, but the thought of them being home during school vacations and, ugh, the entire summer, makes me want to run away and hide. The 2 youngest, ages 6 and 9, bicker constantly, sometimes almost bringing me to tears with the annoyance and frustration of it all. When I ask my mother how she kept her sanity when she was a 30 year-old Mom with 8 children under the age of 11 (!!!) she does not have a clear answer for me other than “you were all perfect angels.”. Seems she did not hold on to her sanity, after all.

  5. I’m sure your mom is overjoyed when you call her for advice. As Queen Wackadoo alluded to, it’s over all too soon and then you sit there waiting for their calls!

  6. Wonderful! You are an amazing mom. I enjoy your posts so much!

    My best friend, 30 years ago, ordered her 6 year old son out of my car to walk because he was driving her crazy…with LAUGHTER, mind you…by that time, I told her I was going to have to stop driving and walk, too, because I was ALSO hysterical! (I was single; she the mom of two – 14 months apart). We still laugh at that today, and surprisingly enough, HE doesn’t even remember! So I guess we didn’t scar him too much… :o)

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  7. Absolutely loved this post. Couldn’t be more true. My kids are still babies in my eyes. 3 and 4, and while the roadmay be diffucult at times, I wouldn’t trade being “momma” for the world.

    • My kids, 10 and 17 are babies in my mind, too. Oh, wait, that’s because they act like babies. Well, not the 17 year old…thank G-d!

  8. My mum put my cousin out of the car once because he and my brother were fighting, and left him to be picked up by a car carrying more of our family that was following us. She also stopped the car on a mini-roundabout once and threatened to put my sister out after she had made me laugh so much I was hysterical – and that was when we were in our late teens. It must be a universal parent urge that comes to everyone! Great post 🙂

  9. Love this post! Thank you for sharing your not-in-vain-attempt-to-successfully-navigate-the-paths-of-two-growing-children-one-who-happens-to-identify-as-transgender blog. 😀

    Pink.

  10. Hmmm Why is it that I hear Rod Serling’s voice in my head? “….sign post up ahead…next stop, The Twilight Zone.”

    Funny, we have to take a test and get a license to drive, but not for having and raisings kids. There may come a time when the state revokes our driver license, but we remain parents all the way through old age. As a parent who is just beginning my old age, I will tell you that I am happy when either of my daughters call – with good news or bad. We still like to know that we’re needed, and I’m sure your mom felt the same way.

    Sorry, but I can’t help myself when I say: The hills seem to be just a bit steeper when you are dealing with a “trans” mission issue.

      • Where? I’m often asked, Why? Having had to live in the middle for so long, I usually see things in at least two ways. Sometimes things come to mind and I am able to write them down. This would be “trans”-scription. Am I a transsexual? Yes, but, even more so, I am a trans-conceptual. I’m working at becoming trans-sensational, however.

        Ready to ask “Why?” yet?

  11. Loved loved loved this post. Perfectly fitting as I prepare to take off for the weekend with my best girl friends to celebrate our friendship and our Mother’s Day. Now, instead of feeling like I’m running away to get the hell away from ‘them’, I am reminded that this is more of a well-needed recharging. (I am prepared for an honest response to my question for you: May I forward this article to some friends as a Mother’s Day wish? I promise to include full credit.) Thanks again for all your sharing.

    • Have a fantastic time with the girls!! J.E.A.L.O.U.S.

      Of course you can forward it — don’t need my permission, just an internet connection. lol

  12. Julie, you are a brilliant voice at the edge of what so many parents experience. You are so insightful and articulate! At some point(s) all our children challenge. This blog is a parenting diary. Thank you for sharing yours! Therese and I have three sons. Shout out to you for not always having the “right” answer to what pops up, but trying.

  13. Oh my – this is, as usual, hilarious, but picturing the terror you went through on your station wagon road trip was the best. I love that you never fought again. I need to somehow capture that and use it my own life.. hmmmm. great Julie. thanks.

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