Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Old-Age Parenting Can Be Hard

I'm too old for this. Being the mother of a thirteen year old, that is. My other kids are 30 and 25, shouldn't I be sipping martinis and playing bridge in the evenings? Okay, I don't like martinis and I don't play bridge, but it's the principle of the thing. Right now it's pushing 9:00 PM and the icky teen is pushing my buttons. I know my complaints are not unique: her room is a mess, the phone is surgically attached to her ear, parent-deafness struck her suddenly, accompanied by a never-ending verbal tic that starts "I want ... ". But I have already done this twice and I'm not convinced I can do it a third time.

This past year we had simultaneous hormone riots, her going through puberty and me going through menopause. Maybe she siphoned off my estrogen and progesterone while I slept, a teen-aged hormone vamp(ire). Because she is cute, that fresh, sweet, unconscious beauty that my husband used to refer to as "cupcake" until he had a daughter of his own on the bakery shelf. Cute and demonic. Alternately running the house and unable to dress herself - at least in clothing that will get her past the vice-principal at the middle school's front door. Other people think she is angelic, mature, responsible, sweet, smart ... I could go on. And she is, but ... 'but' is the part I live with that drives me crazy and makes me ask just what I thought I was doing when I embarked on this venture.

Over-the-hill child raising is hard work, yet I can't deny the fact that she is probably responsible for the fact that I am walking around today and not flat on my back. Because when she came into our lives, I was so sick with lupus that I wasn't walking. I had given up work because I was so ill and I used a walker or scooter to get around on the occasions I went anywhere. I remember one winter afternoon, shortly after she joined our family at the age of three, that she came over to the sofa, where I had passed out from fatigue and illness, and poked my shoulder, saying quite matter of factly, "No one is watching me." When that penetrated the fog I was in, I sat up and watched her. And watched her. And played with her. And now it's 8 years later and I am no longer housebound or unable to walk. In fact, I took a mile walk with my husband tonight. So the icky teen-ager isn't SO icky after all. It's just a matter of perspective.

I feel compelled to admit that I wrote too many passive sentences in this entry and, if I really had literary gumption, I'd go back and rework them into better prose, but I'm tired and I'm just going to give myself a pass on good sentence construction tonight. (But I will check for spelling errors and omissions.)


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