There are cute little stickers such as "Motherhood isn't for sissies..." that people grace their minivan bumpers with as they drive down the highway of life. We see them and smile because these little short snippets of wisdom pretty much capture the truth...sad as it sometimes is. Granted, there are the totally humorless ones such as "Save the Manatees"...but if we see something adhered to a bumper...we almost always make an attempt to read it in the hopes that it will make us crack up. At least I know I do.
In the South, we have our share of smart alecks, but we also hold our tongues and think far more than what we let actually get airborne. Oh, we aren't above pitching the "Oh no, she didn't!" hissy fit or putting someone in their place when it is really and truly necessary...but a lot of the time we sacrifice a lot of what should be said on the altar of hospitality, good manners, or being Christian about something. This is usually erased fairly quickly because we then gossip about whatever it was to whoever will listen...which puts us right down in the mudpit with them...but I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah...about motherhood not being for sissies.
Truer words were never spoken (or adhered to a vehicle). I mean, when we were pregnant, we had to listen to everyone's rendition of any difficulties experienced with conception, pregnancy, or labor in graphic detail. I've been in such diverse environments as a baby shower, a dentist's office and an elevator describing my 95 pound weight gain during my pregnancy with Jill. Yeah, the one where I looked like the Michelin Man and couldn't get in and out of the Jeep Wrangler I was driving without worrying about scaring people or hearing them whisper, "Bless her heart..."
I then graduated to the discussion of poop...a new mother subject that never seemed odd at the time...and one that actually spawned new friendships in the line at Toys R Us and the pediatrician's office. Why we are fascinated with this is possibly because they've sucked out our brain cells while we were carrying them or we are so sleep deprived that we actually think that someone - anyone - actually cares.
Once she stopped screaming nightly from colic and started sleeping through the night, we began two years of rocking her for 45 minutes and reading "Goodnight, Moon" so much that I can still recite most of it without even thinking hard. We got cereal in her after three weeks of rejection, and then finally got her to walk two weeks before her first birthday because I was having none of the comments about how lazy she was while everyone was there celebrating her birthday. Guess if I hadn't carried her everywhere it might have helped.
After her biting phase, cutting teeth, adjusting to her new little brother, and a well documented and quite hysterical aversion to school pictures, we got into the meat of her training...kindergarten. Later, five elementary teachers suggested that she might be a victim of the dreaded "Attention Deficit Disorder" before we finally got her tested and medicated. She made it through mean girls, boyfriends, cheerleading tryouts, high school, learning to drive and choosing a college pretty much intact. Looking back, I see what a miracle that was.
And boy has it been a ride.
But nothing prepares you for that whole "letting go" thing on the other side. And it is probably the part that I have handled the least gracefully. I've wanted to jerk a knot in males who act like children when they are closer to being men than boys. I've wanted to speak my piece about how something should be when I know that the decision is not mine to make. I've held back doing the things that are easy for me but harder for kids to adjust to such as making appointments and figuring out how to get a part time job. I've met young men that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up...not because they are bad guys...but because they are so obviously not Mr. Right...for her. And through all of that...I've been managing to keep my children speaking to me.
So, imagine my surprise at being confronted this week with a female houseguest that I laid eyes on one time in three days. She came in at all hours of the night and pretty much did her own thing while she was here. She wasn't driving...and I don't think she was whooping it up all over Montgomery. I mean, even if you want to whoop it up all over Montgomery...it's just far more difficult to do than it should be. Or so I've been told. But her behavior was just downright tacky.
I've had to keep from saying the words, "Excuse me, but does my house look like a Best Western to you?" to this young lady. A young lady whose mother would die a thousand deaths if she had an inkling that her child had come to my house and acted like we don't mind her coming in "whenever". Whenever turned out to be no earlier than 1:45 a.m. And what do you do with this? I mean, I could go all "gonzo"...call her mother, pitch a fit, confront her about it...but I swore that off after I texted one of Jill's friends who was being a jerk and we needed to know if the date was on or off. But, alas, it wasn't my battle...and I came off looking like a stressed out, hovering, crazy old bat...which I suppose was pretty much spot on. (Come to think of it...he was a houseguest here at the Mixon Best Western too...)
So, here are a few rules that I think that teenagers should understand and try to live by. And before you give me advice...believe me...I know that I am an adult, this is my home and that I should have spoken my mind. I will in the future. But this just caught me so off guard, that I've been sitting here all caught up in this "what the..." moment.
1. If you are a guest in someone's home...you should be in before midnight unless accompanied by someone who actually lives in the house. And NO, the dog coming in with you from outside does not count.
2. If you are under 21, you should not discuss how you talked to a couple of gang members in a Waffle House at 3 a.m. when you were out of your mind drunk and were surprised at how cool they were. Come to think about it, I really don't want to hear about it if you are over 21 either.
3. I do not need to know who is a "ho" or the who, what, where, when and how of any of your extracurricular activities. I'd really, really, really rather not know.
4. I am really not interested in how broke you are when you can manage to entertain me with your exploits involving alcohol, tattoos, or both. Especially when you are whining that your parents don't give you any money while you are sitting on your butt at home not trying to find a job.
5. Your brushes with the law are none of my business.
6. If your parents are crazy, I probably don't need the details. If it's that bad...we'll get a licensed professional or law enforcement involved.
7. Please don't call me from jail. Although I will pick you up from any location in Montgomery County if you "accidentally" drink something...I am in no way going to feel obligated to bail your sorry rear end out of jail.
8. Yes, I can proofread your paper for you...but I'd appreciate it if it is legible and you have at least attempted to string words together.
Oh, there are more...but most of these are some of the actual discussions I've had with various kids over the past six years...and most of the time kids who were not my own.
No, motherhood is not for sissies...but it is wonderful. There are times when I look at the kids who are actually growing into great, normal adults and I think about what a process the whole thing is from start to finish. And my bumper sticker suggestion? I just want one that says "Mother." That one word pretty much sums it up.