Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thank God You’re Safe, Now I’d Like to Kill You

If there's one thing I can say about parenthood, it's that it evokes passion, both positive and negative. Your child is born and you fall in love. They take their first steps and you're as proud as if you did it yourself. They get a part in the school play and you fight for a spot to park your video camera.

Then one day, they screw up and you get mad. It's shocking the first time it happens. Not because you weren't expecting it, but because life was rolling along and you were so into this great kid and then, well, you find out they’re not perfect. The natural reaction is to blame someone else: “That Jimmy Smith is a bad influence. Billy would have never done this on his own.” And that works for a while, until Billy gets in trouble again and then the thought dawns on you that like everybody else, your kid is human. Eventually, you grow to accept this fact because I’m pretty certain that every kid will do something wrong more than once or twice in his lifetime.

The tricky part comes when two opposing passions collide all in one episode. Our son recently drove his car back to college. This was a huge deal only because getting there required driving through Chicago, the third largest city in the nation. To say I was nervous was an understatement. In fact, I spent several sleepless nights trying to think of and thereby eradicate any possible disasters along the way. I’m not ashamed to say that when he left, I cried. Two and half hours later he called to say that he had safely made it through Chicago and had arrived at his first destination. Relief flooded over me and I sent a few thank you prayers to the man upstairs.

About an hour later, our son called again. He had just been pulled over for a speeding ticket. A $125 speeding ticket. Rage began to replace relief. I reminded myself and my husband that he was safe. Poorer, but safe. Still, we couldn’t help but be pretty steamed that he had gotten himself a ticket that would likely raise our already high insurance rates. It was hard to balance these two very strong feelings.

As my kids get older, I find this happens a lot – this juggling of emotions. I’ve spent many nights worrying that kids are safe and praying for someone to watch over them, only to have that worry and fear turn into joy and then anger the minute they walk in the door 30 minutes after curfew. You want to hug them and strangle them all at once. It’s a bit unsettling.

I’m beginning to understand that bigger kids mean not only bigger problems, but bigger worries that translate into this swirling cauldron of muddled emotions. I’m trying to teach myself to be patient, give my kids the benefit of the doubt and have a great parent network that I can use to alleviate stress and keep tabs on my kids. It doesn't always work.

In my house, I’m sort of known as the queen of mercurial emotions. I can go from zero to rottweiler in six seconds or just by walking into a child’s bedroom. But this fine line between worry and fury is probably just as confusing to the child as it is to me. I find it amazing that I can easily love and loathe at the same time. It feels sort of....schizophrenic. Nevertheless, I'll try to keep things in perspective and be thankful for safety, health and cell phones.

30 Comments:

At 2:03 PM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

By the time I was his age I had already had 3 speeding tickets, and that was on a mo-ped. I got my first one at the age of 15.
In California, a speeding ticket is a minimum of $300. Pulling people over is one of our main sources of revenue.

Seriously, I think you should try not to worry so much about things that are not under your control. I have the same problem and it will only drive you crazy. You just have to tell yourself that it is in God's hands.

 
At 3:55 PM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

WOW! I know exactly what you mean. Being able to have all those emotions just proves how deeply in love you are, though. If there was no love, there'd be no fury....you'd go through life totally apathetic to your child. Unfortunately kids don't understand this until they are 30 something. =)

 
At 6:56 PM , Blogger jennypenny said...

Just be glad he is ok. I know my mom stresses everytime I drive somewhere of significance as I have had a few accidents along the way. I'm sure she wishes I could just get a bus pass! Thanks for stopping by my place earlier.

 
At 6:02 AM , Blogger Star said...

Every parent has been there., Just hang in. The ultimate revenge is when they have children of their own.

 
At 7:13 AM , Anonymous Laura said...

My 17 yr old daughter once called us near midnight, close to curfew, because her car had been towed for parking in a no parking zone...and she was on the beach, with a group of friends we didn't know, in an area of town she's not allowed to go to without permission. I felt the same way, juggling anger at having been lied to, and wanting to strangle her at the same time.
Mentally, do we EVER get a break from having to stay one step ahead of them when they're in their teen years???!!! arrgh!
I nearly grounded her for life. Instead I took the car keys away for 2 months and made her pay the towing bill as well. She now has a renewed appreciation for the cost of freedom.


Good luck to you,Karen. And here's to us .....till they grow up and move on with their own lives!

 
At 7:29 AM , Blogger Dave said...

When they are young its loads of small problems and as they get older it becomes a few (hopefully) big problems. But whichever way you look at it you've got to get used to 'letting go'. We've all been there and overprotective (not saying you are) parents are not the answer, making them realise that you trust them is, and that at the same time if they do screw up (as most do) then home is always there for them whatever.
By the way thanks for stopping by my blog.

 
At 8:25 AM , Blogger owlhaven said...

zero to rottweiler--- love it! Love your posts!
Mary, mom to many

 
At 8:36 AM , Anonymous Janet (fondofsnape@gmail.com) said...

As an ex-friend said to me, I've never had kids, so I can't understand [this or that]. However, I WAS a kid once, and after reading this, feel badly all over again about what I put my parents thru. Great writing, and hi, Michele sent me :-)

 
At 10:28 PM , Blogger Shane said...

hmmmm, if i recall my ute, i'd say you're in for a helluva 4 more years (not to sound like an election or anything).

 
At 6:19 AM , Blogger mar said...

I love the way you can write down and describe your emotions, I see mine reflected! Great post, as always. My teenager son will be 18 in june and I often have times when I could hug him and strangle him all at once!! *sigh*, momhood! :¬)

 
At 6:22 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

You've just defined the never-ending concerns of parenthood in one precisely-written entry.

That limitless depth of caring is what makes you a great parent in the first place.

Saw you on Michele's this morning: just had to drop by and reconnect. Sorry I've been such a stranger of late. Life's been swamped.

 
At 8:42 AM , Anonymous cassie-b said...

And I don't think that ever goes away. My mother still worries about me, and I'm really old enough to take care of my self and my own problems - usually.

And a Happy St. Patrick's day to you!

Cassie-b

 
At 8:53 AM , Anonymous Erin said...

Greetings from your fellow Wisconsinite, Karen! Popping over from Michele's.

I loved this post - you articulated so well how every parent feels. I've watched my mom go through all this with her three (now pretty much grown up) kids and I often think, how do people do it?

I can't wait to start a family in a couple of years, but I'm already such a worrier, I just can't imagine what kind of mom I'll be! Hopefully a good one! =)

Have a great weekend, Karen. I'll be back again soon!

 
At 9:12 AM , Blogger mar said...

Michele sent me again your way! Trying to remember to be thankful for safety, health and cell phones, it's friday!

 
At 10:07 AM , Blogger Sandy said...

Mind if I save this post for future reference? I swear, you had me nodding my head with a lot "Amen, I hear ya!" from the title of this post. . .and my oldest is only inching closer to 4. ;)

here via michele. I always enjoy my visits.

 
At 10:20 AM , Blogger Amanda said...

Hello from Michele's.

Although I don't have kids, I do understand what you're saying here from the kids' point of view. My mom was not a huge worrier with me - she mainly took the advice that juliabohemian has given to you - you can't worry about things that are not under your control. But there were those few times - like when I got in my first car accident that was 110% my fault - that she had the look of complete relief followed by complete anger. Hang in there.

 
At 11:06 PM , Anonymous jude said...

once again... so true!!

 
At 11:39 PM , Blogger Daydreamer of Oz said...

Hey found you at Michele's....My 2 are 6 & 2....I was hoping it got easier ;)

 
At 11:44 PM , Blogger scrappintwinmom said...

Oh yea, give me something else to look forward to. Here via Michele, I'll be back on my own!

 
At 6:19 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

So many emotions will go through parents as their children grow up.

Michele sent me here.

 
At 6:30 AM , Blogger Mitey Mite said...

Well said. Michele sent me.

 
At 6:54 AM , Anonymous Mike said...

My son is 23 now. Back when he was just starting to drive up in North dakota he went to the store for his mom. He picked up a couple of friends and took a long way home for more driving time. Going to fast he lost control and slid off the road into a snow filled ditch and got stuck. When he called I went from grateful he wasn't hurt to pissed at him in about ten seconds. He is the reason my hair is gray at 44.

 
At 8:51 AM , Blogger Shannon said...

Great post, very well-written. I've got several years before I get into those types of worries, but I already think about it.

Michele sent me.

 
At 7:20 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

I know exactly what you mean about zero to rottweiler.
I have a "problem" child that has given us more then our fair share of those moments.
I am hoping by the time he is 25 he will be giving us less of them lol
Michele sent me today.

 
At 7:22 PM , Blogger srp said...

This is a mom thing, never goes away and you're right, the older they get the bigger the OOPS! become. And we thought it would be better if they could survive until adulthood... or close.
Here from Michele.

 
At 7:56 AM , Blogger kenju said...

"zero to Rottweiler..." I love it! Most moms are that way. This is a good lesson for him (especially if he has to pay the ticket). We had similar times when my three were growing up, but they all got responsible before too late. Hope yours will too. Michele sent me.

 
At 7:09 AM , Blogger Star said...

Morning Karen. Here from Michele.

 
At 3:19 PM , Blogger panthergirl said...

Again, I totally get it.

(the good thing about city driving is that they CAN'T go very fast because of traffic!! It's the open roads that get them!)

 
At 10:00 AM , Anonymous Pearl said...

And we thought our own childhood was a difficult set of rites of passage. Parenting too.

 
At 2:01 PM , Anonymous surcie said...

Great post. Seems to me that the worry isn't divided evenly among my husband and me. I'm the one who worries most about our son. As much as I worry now, I can't imagine what things will be like once he gets older!

 

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