Saturday, May 30, 2009
I’m Much Too Young to Feel This Damn Old
I can’t really say when this feeling began. Perhaps the breaking point was waking up one morning and finding that I’d become the un-expectant mother of seven children at the ripe old age of thirty-one.
Lately, though… lately, it’s hitting hard.
I’m thirty-four, y’all. Just thirty-four, and suddenly I’m facing my oldest daughter, Princess, leaving in two weeks. Add to that the fact that The Dude, at fifteen, is now old enough to be picking up Random Girl during family outings.
Random Girl may have many different faces, but she’s all the same person to me: a girl that I know nothing about, except that she is probably going to seduce my son into taking Ecstasy and going to rainbow parties. She probably has hair dyed a shade not found in nature, and she probably has at least three body piercings.
In short, she’s me, ten years ago. Or fifteen. Or… okay, I’ll admit it – nineteen years ago.
That, of course, is the reason she is so untrustworthy… I’ve been in her shoes, and I rocked those four-inch stilettos for all they were worth, y’all. I was not the model teen, and I know all of Random Girl’s dirty little secrets, because they were my secrets first.
The difference? I didn’t have a cell phone with which to text naughty little innuendos and take naughty little pics of myself to send to my boy of the moment. That’s right – boy, because, at fifteen, The Dude is still as much boy as he is man…
… and frankly, I’m not ready for that “man” part. I’m just not ready.
“Dude, I need you to be more considerate about the amount of time you spend in the shower,” I explained months ago. “I mean, I don’t know what you’re doing in the shower for forty-five minutes, but there are a lot of people in this house, and only two bathrooms, so…”
“Never mind,” I decided. “As the mother of a teenaged boy, I probably don’t want to know what you’re doing in the shower for forty-five minutes.”
“Heh, heh, heh…”
And Princess? Oh, boy… where do I start? She’s leaving. That’s right, leaving… right after graduation. Her courses don’t start at Washington State University until August, but she’s leaving after graduation to spend the summer with her biological mother, who she hasn’t seen more than sixty or so days per year for over nine years.
And you know what, y’all? That hurts.
I know I should be the bigger person and learn to let go, but I’m just not ready. I mean, how selfish do I need to be, right? I’ve had Princess for over half of her life. I know, without a doubt, that I have had more influence over her, on a day-to-day basis, than anyone else in her life, but… I feel like I’m losing her not to growing up, but to that “other mother;” the one who has been allowed to do so little since giving birth to my amazing daughter and yet somehow keep the title of “mother.”
Me? I’ve had to live with the title “Ama” (short for "Alternate Mama") all this time because “Mom” has messed with her children’s heads so much and threatened to not see them anymore if they anger her or prove “disloyal” by loving me at all. When in her presence, they aren’t allowed to say, “I love you,” to me because it would anger their mother.
This is the woman who wins Princess’s last summer before college? This is the woman who gets to spend the girlfriend time with my daughter this summer? The woman who said to me, in an email, “I am and always will be the mother of my children. In no way will they ever see it differently, that said, in their minds I have limitless amnesty. It is my opinion that this is the place you have a difficult time grasping. I am not sure this will ever change, you are in a difficult position… I can’t make my children love anyone like their father or mother, nor should this be expected. Your relationship will always be different than the one you have with your own son.”
That’s where you’re wrong, Ms. Mother of All. I attest that I know “your” children as well as my “own” son. I attest that I know “your” children better than you do. You know why? Because I’m the one who’s been around for the last nine years, making their meals, helping them with their homework, taking care of them when they’ve been sick, paying for the educational expenses that you’ve refused to share, bearing the burden of being the mother that you couldn’t be bothered to be.
In all fairness, Princess says that the reason she wants to spend the summer with her bio mom is because she feels like she doesn’t really know her birth mother. I suppose it’s true. Sad, but true. Her “real” mom has spent nothing but the minimum amount of court-ordered visitation with her kids, and last time we went to court, she petitioned for far, far less of that time.
And THAT, my friends, is why I’m feeling so betrayed. I’ve been the “through thick and thin” mom, while the “real” mom has been allowed to phone it in (literally) for nine years.
I need to get over it. It’s destroying my relationship with Princess. We used to be so close, and these days I’m so bitter over her decision, I know I’m taking it out on her. She’s beginning to hate me because I’m acting and feeling so resentful.
Any advice, readers?