I have been in this game for more than 18 years. In any other profession, I would be on the downhill slide towards retirement, and considered by most to be a relative expert in my field. But this is mothering, folks, and just when you think you've got it all figured out, those darn kids slip you a curve ball and you're caught with your pants down. Or off completely.
Last week I was starting to get a little bit too comfortable with my "success" as a mother. My oldest daughter who is now at college texts me for advice, which means I still hold some sway in her opinion, and my other three were mostly speaking to me. All of this winning was just a few blissfully unaware hours before I lost control of the G6 seventeen-year-old rocking the current exchange students, and infectious disease began running rampant in my house along with a river of poop. Real poop. Believe it or not, none of these three are connected. Just separate ongoing episodes of terror. All unrelated, but all intent on reducing me to a quivering mass of useless parenthood.
In addition to being completely unable to correctly diagnose, treat or make disappear the weird rash on Aspen's forehead, I lost MacKenzie to an outbreak of Total Insolence and Blatant Disobedience this weekend, garnished by the unabated overflow of a toilet that nobody admits to pooping in. I am pretty sure the guilty depositor is also the mysterious nobody who leaves their feminine hygiene garbage lying around the bathroom to welcome me awake in the morning. I think this is what they mean when they say boys are easier than girls to raise. Well, this and the screaming, crying, cursing fights and monologues that happen daily here.
In the wake of all of this catastrophe, when Halle texted me last night for more social advice, which apparently I am an expert in, being so successful in my own social life, I ignored her. In my defense, it was the middle of the night, which for college students is about 3 AM but for me has been surfacing around 10:30. To make amends for my neglectfulness, as well as the recent uncovering that I have deprived my children of the unknown Joys Of Cuddling for the last 18 years, I am putting together a care package for Halle consisting of Candy Corn and Hi-Chew. Which is clearly the way to a college freshman's heart.
My solution to the adamant rebellion of MacKenzie is to first enlist the help of her father, which results in her convincing him that I am being irrational by requiring her to provide information about her whereabouts and proof of adult supervision, so then my secondary recourse is to just quit speaking to her and shoot eye daggers at frequent intervals. Because that's totally gonna fix it. In case you haven't noticed, punishing a teenager is much more difficult than one would think. If I take away sports, she doesn't graduate, and I am faced with another school year of rebellion. If I take away her phone, she uses someone else's. If I take away her job, there's a good chance she will never move out. Really every conceivable consequence is actually more punishment for me in the long run. And she knows it. That's the worst part.
My only hope is that Natalee and Aspen and Uyen (who is known and loved by all as Wynn, these days) catch the crossfire of the eye daggers and learn from the many and grevious mistakes of their older reprobate sister.
All of this has convicted me of my own insufficiencies as a parent and as an adult, a point never contended by me, but a sad fact for the casualties of my efforts.
In conclusion, Aspen's forehead rash is running amok, Halle is probably facing social demise, and MacKenzie is going to turn up with face tattoos and her own liquor cabinet soon, as a tribute to my Mad Mothering Skillz. It's all in a day's work, my friends. Or two decades. Whichever.