For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived life in the present moment. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism for me, but I was shocked when I actually graduated college, stunned when I finally got married, amazed when Alexander was born, and these were all events of which I had a ton of control over but felt as though I did not.
Or maybe it’s because when you have a baby, then a toddler, followed by a preschooler that you become so busy wrapped up in whatever is going on day to day (and occasionally feeling like this stage is never, ever going to end) that you forget that time does eventually, march on, and pretty soon, your oldest child is a Real Person. And suddenly, you must start behaving like a Real Parent, which has far different implications when your child becomes of school age.
I’m not sure, but I do know that I took each stage as it came and I never, ever looked at my tiny screaming baby Benjamin and thought, wow, someday he is going to need me to make snack for school AND NOT EMBARASS HIM IN THE PROCESS, GOD, MOM.
For a shamefully long time, I admit to having felt like an outsider to the Club of Parenthood. I vividly remember taking prenatal aquatics classes while pregnant with Ben, and I was completely shunned by the other women. Not only was I younger, but I was much younger, I had no house, I had no husband, therefore I was not as good as them. Later, the nurses and my own OB at the hospital were shocked by my love for my teeny ickle Ben, as were my own parents. After that, when he started preschool, I was constantly reminded of the gap between myself and the other parents, they were older, more established and most of all THEY REALLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT WAS GOING ON.
When Ben would go to birthday parties thrown by other kids, he’d come home with very thoughtfully exectued gift bags with matching shwag and candy, so incredibly unlike those that we would put together which consisted mainly of bags of stale chips from the pantry and leftover lighters we’d found lying around (y’know, for their crack pipes). While on days that Ben needed a lunch for a field trip, I’d run out and pick up a preservative-filled, nitrate laden, horrifying for you, Lunchables (shudder, shudder), these kids would have a nutritionally sound, perfectly cut, handmade, organic lunch. In matching tupperware.
We’ve signed up to do snack for his soccer team in the coming weeks, but neither of us is quite sure which day it is, which leads me to believe that whichever day it actually is, we’ll show up empty handed. So, like the good mother that I am, I’ll be forced to run out and pick up a couple dozen donuts and a big jug of coffee. For 6-year olds (for the record here, if I myself were bringing something to a party, it would be my standard bag ‘o’ Funyons and a box of chocolate covered donuts. I’m not creative.). But hey, don’t worry, I won’t forget the cream OR sugar. Don’t worry, Internet, I DO KNOW what’s important here!
But anyway, I find myself having to start to make the sort of rules that YOU remember your parents inflicting upon you: bedtime is between 7:00-7:45, only one hour of television/video games each day, don’t forget to brush your teeth and wipe your ass. And Internet, it feels weird.
I feel like a hack, an imposter, like I don’t really know what I’m doing. I haven’t read a parenting book, well, ever, aside from the one’s that promise to help your baby sleep through the night, I don’t have 1,001 creative ways to handle each situation, sometimes I find that a swift just punishment works far better than some kind of touchy feely “talk it out” punishment does.
Maybe we’re all just faking it ’til we make it, I’m not sure. The best that I can hope for is that he won’t have to spend TOO many thousands of dollars on his future therapist trying to undo all the damage that we’ve done. Like make him wear a “My Mom Rules” shirt in public. Frequently. That’s just cruel.