18 years and counting

18 years ago today, I was in Scarborough Centenary Hospital, with my mum, godmother and grandmother.  I was 21 and in labour.  I wanted and needed a baby, this baby, more than I wanted or needed my next breath and after much ado (note to doctors: Labour and Delivery is NOT the place to practice your amateur stand-up comedy routines – NOBODY wants to hear them.  You are NOT funny!), Plum was born.  Perfect, calm, and beautiful.  He was calmer than I was and I was numbed by that painful-to-get but lovely to have had epidural.

I had never seen a more beautiful human being in my life and I was instantly totally and completely in love with him.  Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day.  There was none of the nervousness or awkwardness that sometimes follows a first meeting or plagues a new mother.  I held him, nursed him and carried him with the self-assured knowledge that he was mine and even though we had just met, it was though he had been with me always.  The practical stuff I still needed to learn, so my mom did much of his first bath in the sink, but I was a quick study.

On the day you were born, the world grew by one...

He became my world, my everything, the reason I cared about life and living.  I gave him four ‘first’ names – all my favourites, because I felt that if he were the only child I would have, I wanted him to have all of the names that I thought were strong and beautiful and full of meaning – the same way I felt about him.

And tonight, at 8:13pm, he’s turning 18.  Not a baby anymore, and hasn’t been for a very long time now, and still, my heart feels very sure that he is still a baby.  My beautiful, perfect baby.

But, he’s not.  He’s my 18 year-old son.  Who is struggling with adolescence and finding his place in this world.  He’s my 18 year-old son who says terrible things to me and calls me terrible names and makes terrible decisions that hurt both of us, but also who, no matter what either of us say or do to the other, my bond with is unbreakable.  There have been times when I have wished that I could sever that bond and not care anymore because it has hurt so badly and no doubt, he has that wish on at least a weekly basis, but alas, no.  He is my son, and I am his mum and that is written in stone.

One day, he’ll have children of his own and they will be perfect and he will love them beyond all logic and reason and then they will become teenagers and he won’t believe that it’s happening to him.  And he’ll come to me and tell me what horrible things my grandchild(ren) is doing and I will commiserate with him and I won’t say “see?  I told you so!”  Or, “yes, well,you were xyz”  No, I will listen to his woes and frustrations and then send him on his way to handle his teenager(s) the best he is able.  Just like I handle him now, no matter how horrible a job he thinks I’m doing, no matter how wrong, blind or crazy he believes that I am.  One day, he’ll understand, just like these last few years with him have made me understand and appreciate my parents and all they went through with and did for me during my tumultuous teenage years (and, well all they still do for me, at my current ripe old age).

So, Happy 18th Birthday Plum.  I hope this year brings you love, health, happiness, direction and success in whatever paths you choose to follow.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

Robert Munsch

“Ponder it”

Those were Plum’s (17) last words to me last night.  He was clearly frustrated, annoyed and angry but instead of yelling and screaming, he remained outwardly calm and chose instead to walk away.  I was proud of him for that.  But, he is his mother’s son and he couldn’t walk away without getting, or at least trying to get a parting shot or the last word.  “There is nothing that you care about, is there?” he said to me.  I paused, thought for a beat and said “I’m not sure what you mean when you say that” and he said “ponder it a while then” and closed the basement door and returned to his room and world of MSN chat, Facebook status updates and YouTube.

A completely unrealistic rendering of me, pondering it.

Perhaps I should start somewhere closer to the middle, the beginning would take all year.

I had to make an unscheduled run to Wal-Mart yesterday evening, after tucking all the smalls into bed, to fill a prescription.  Also, we were out of banana and my smalls just don’t start their days right without a banana with their breakfasts 😉  So, while in Wal-Mart my phone rings.  It’s Plum.  After asking me where I was and what was up (um, you called me, remember?!?) he asked if he could go to the gym later on (time of the call was 8:45pm).  Keep in mind, it’s a school night, the first week of a new semester and he is not in his strongest position, school-wise right now.  So, I asked him what time he would be home and he said “oh, 11:45 or 12ish.”  Um, what?  Lemme see here.  It’s a school night, curfew on school nights is 10pm (which I still think is insanely late during the week, but that’s another discussion) but going to the gym is NOT a reason to lift curfew.  I talked with him for a few minutes while pushing my cart through the store.

I was trying to be diplomatic and calm, but it got harder and harder, the more he pushed to get what he wanted.  He couldn’t see why it was a problem since he would be awake until 1 or 2 am anyway.  Or because when he was working he would come home that late or later on school nights (which I reminded him had always been a problem as well).  Or that he was quiet when he came in.  Or it shouldn’t be a problem because he was going somewhere  not just hanging out or “whatever.”  I heard what he had to say, and if you’ve never had to deal with teenager demands, via cellphone, while in Wal-Mart, all I can say is, DON’T.  The conversation went from bad to worse before it ended.  Hanging up, I admit I was annoyed that I had allowed him to get to me, to use ‘that tone’ on me, you may know the one – it’s the one that teenagers use to convey to you that you’re a complete idiot and really shouldn’t be out unsupervised because in your idiotic state, you may forget to breathe.  But, I digress.

My point was and is that I don’t care if you are 7 or 17 or 27.  The house rules are the house rules.  Curfews are set for a reason and turning 18 (yes, Plum is 18 in two weeks) won’t change the curfews or the rules.  If anything, the older my children get, the more I expect of them.  I expect them to do more, to be kinder, more mature, responsible and respectful, show greater consideration for those around them.  My only expectations of Ms. Moon for the past 20 months were that she be adorable.  She has excelled at that, but now, she’s shaking things up and in the last week has decided that her youngest brother is a better chewy toy than playmate, so being on high alert for her baring her pearly whites in his direction has taken on top priority when they are together (which is almost all of the time).

Anyway, I cut my trip to the store short and headed home.  I did some laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, put away the few groceries I had managed to purchased (sale prices only, of course!), and sat down to go through my email and clean out my inbox.  When Plum appeared soon after, and indicated that ‘if he were allowed to go to the gym tonight…'(you can fill the blanks), I took the opportunity to reiterate in shorthand: my house, my rules, curfews are curfews for a reason and while he may not appreciate or understand my position, that on this one, I was not compromising any further.  Not impressed, he stalked out of the room but not without taking his parting shot “”There is nothing that you care about, is there?”  Me: “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying with that one”  Him:  “Well, ponder it then.”

Did I push his face in at that point?  No.  Was I tempted, yes.  But I didn’t.  I pondered.  And then I it pondered some more.  And what I realized was that this whole thing was his way of throwing a temper tantrum and trying to get me to engage in a full-on war over something that I didn’t need to fight about.  Seven and seventeen have more than just the ‘seven’ in common, you know?  It may be normal behaviour for kids to try whatever they can to get what they want, but unless I remind myself to breathe through these trials, I lose sleep, cry a river of tears, ,get MAD and then feel like the worst mother on the planet.  But, I’m not.  I’m not the greatest ever, but I’m far from the worst, and I am always trying to improve and get better at things – for my family and for myself.  I love my kids.  I do my BEST to take care of their NEEDS and as many of their WANTS as possible, but part of my job as MOM is to be the bad guy and try to teach the hard life lessons sometimes.  It sucks, and nobody told me almost 18 years ago that one day my sweet, beautiful, perfect baby boy would paint me as the enemy on a daily basis, but if they had, being barely older than he is now, I wouldn’t have listened anyway, would I have?

This too shall pass and he will love me again one day (like when his kids are pulling stunts on him, maybe?)

Any temper tantrum stories to share?  Dealt with a difficult teenager?  (and no, my parents are not allowed to share stories of my adolescence.  My blog, my rules *grin* 😉

It’s five against one around here – but I am winning!

17, 7, 5, 3 and 19 months. Those the ages of my children. The first four are boys, the baby is a girl. And no, we weren’t ‘trying’ for a girl. We actually fully expected another boy and were totally floored when Miranda appeared, in all of her girly perfection. It took us eons to actually process that we had a daughter, a girl that we were now completely reasonable for – for some reason that fact was scarier to me the same fact for my sons.

Anywho – totally not the point of this post. Focus Honey B. So. 5 against 1. My three middle children fight, play and fight some more with the dedication and ferocity of kamikaze pilots. My teenager is in the throes of hormonal hell, and takes me on a regular hellish emotional rollercoaster ride, with moods and attitudes changing and shifting more rapidly than an eye can blink.

Right now, 7 is at McDonalds, having a play date. 5,3, and 19 months are napping. That naps are happening is winning in and of itself. Anyone with children has a much deeper appreciation for naps. It’s a beautiful and peaceful time in the Badger house. Until I remember that I have some issues to address with 17. To be truthful, I haven’t forgotten for a second, I can just think of a hundred things I would rather be doing that dealing with teenage drama and temper tantrums. Like what, You ask?. Well, at this moment, I do believe that I would rather swim with the alli-gators in the Bayou (don’t you just LOVE that Swamp People show?) than deal with 17 right now. But, seeing as he in only a staircase away from where I am currently sitting and those alli-gators are far, far away from here, I will choose to deal with the teenager. Nobody ever said being a mom would be easy. And it’s a good thing that nobody promised that it would make me popular either. Time to go and have a little chat with T-Buddy. Wish me luck 🙂