On Sunday morning, my youngest (age 11) asked if she could have a cookie while she waited for her pancakes to be ready. I didn’t say no. While she was eating her pancakes, she said “this doesn’t have enough flavor.” So she sprinkled her syrup soaked pancake with brown sugar. I didn’t protest. She ate about a half a pancake. And 30 minutes later she asked me if she could have lunch. I just shrugged a “why not?”
The young mom I used to be would have been appalled. But I am not a young mom anymore. I am an old mom. And a tired mom. And before you give me props for at least making breakfast for my kids, you should know that Emmy made the pancakes herself.
Motherhood is different at this older kid stage. I no longer have to take the four of them grocery shopping. I don’t have to use the method of “two in the cart, and two attached to the cart.. until the cart gets too full. And then one in the cart, and three attached to the cart… And nobody ask for anything. And we will stay in our budget. And nobody poop or pee their pants… and I WILL NOT CRY.”
My older sister Sarah has kids similar in age to mine. Back in the day she would occasionally call and asked if I wanted to go shopping with her. At Costco. Just her and I. And our collective EIGHT SMALL CHILDREN. Words cannot describe the chaos. It’s a wonder we were never kicked out. Those years were impossibly difficult in so many ways.
When I had my first two kids, I balked when I heard my young mom friends say “I didn’t even have time for a shower today.” The judgy and naive younger me would internally put hands on hips and squint one eye, and silently ask, “Did you not have time? Or did you choose other things?” Then my fourth child was born. And I was surviving in a house of four children under the age of 6. I had two kids in diapers, and my oldest was only in kindergarten. Which back then was like half-school.
Shortly after I brought my youngest home from the hospital, I got a new phone. I had not switched from my old phone yet. My husband came home from work, and as I was leaning over our 2-year-old son, changing what I can only imagine was the 37th diaper of the day, my husband asked “Mike from Sprint wants to know when you will be switching your phone over?” I lost it. I think I screamed something like “Well, you tell Mike from Sprint that I haven’t even had a chance to clean myself today. So if he wants me to switch my phone over maybe he should come over here and do it himself!” I believe at that point, my husband wisely said nothing, and backed out of the room.
My kids are older now. I am older, too. And “wiser” and “more settled” and all the other tropey things we seasoned mothers like to say. I am more “patient”. More “chill”. Being a mother is all around quite a bit physically easier.
I miss the younger years, though. Yes, they felt impossible at the time. But it was simple. All I had to do was provide for their basic needs. Sleep, food, love, repeat. There were a lot of easily enforced rules. Bedtimes rules (7:30, because mom needs a break), food rules (fine, don’t eat this delicious home-cooked meal, but you get nothing else), and sooo much time-out. Not to mention the cuddles. All the cuddles.
Now it’s all subjective. There is no one right way to raise teenagers. They are a mass of incomprehensible hormones, full of opinions derived from the information vortex that is TikTok. Every word that comes out of my mouth is checked and double checked, just to be sure I am not about to give my children anxiety, issues with authority, or god forbid, an eating disorder. But kids like boundaries, right? Or so I have been told. So I try and create rules. You know, because deep down teens like them? So here you go. A list of rules the have been implemented in our house. And eventually forgotten..
Fine, but no swearing at the table
Alright, no swearing at each other
No farting in public
Ok, no farting when we are all watching movies together
No farting in the car?
Don’t feed the dog from the table
Don’t let the dog sit at the table
For the love of all that is holy, don’t let the dog sit ON the table
Here is my hope. We laid the groundwork when my kids were small. Their dad and I provided relative structure, and a safe place. And at this point, as blossoming almost-adults I am happy to say they make good decisions. Not “I am going to be an astrophysicist” good decisions. More like “I am a good, kind person, and I will at least graduate from high school” good decisions. They will continue on this vein. They will become more amazing and successful versions of what they already are. I can take a small amount of ownership over this. I am aware I have had to let most of my young mom-ness go. Year to date, our household rules are narrowed down to three:
Clean your room before you leave the house
Tell me where you are going
No going number 2 in my bathroom
And you know what? My kids don’t follow a single one. I am ok with it. I am lucky to have them. They are my life and my greatest source of happiness. And my greatest source of pain.
2 responses to “Old Mom”
I’ve never had kids of my own but I recognize this pattern in my friends and family members. I have also experienced this, generally, with everything. Things that bothered me in my 30s, seem so trivial in my 50s. Wisdom to know when to pick your battles? or just tired?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Maybe a bit of both. A little wiser, a little more exhausted.
LikeLiked by 1 person