You always think, okay, now parenting starts …… then you realise, no, now parenting starts

 

Do you recall when you were pregnant/or waiting for your baby and you were kitting out the nursery, and doing extreme reading on whether this wet wipe is good or that cotton blanket is good, and so it goes on.

You spent oodles of energy on getting things just right — because this was the beginning of parenting.

Then you had your baby, and you went all soft lighting and you dreamed of your baby and your baby was everything.  And you were so damn happy.

If you were in the unfortunate category, you got a load of post natal depression, and you then started to look at your baby and though you loved your baby, you sort of hated your baby.  Everything was difficult, everything was painful.  You wanted to run away.  And leave the baby behind.  But you didn’t, and every day was hard, and you thought, okay this is parenting.

Then it got time to enroll your baby into a school and you drove yourself mad trying to find the right school, where everything was eco friendly and they only fed your child organic strawberries and it was all love and goodness.  You got onto various waiting lists and it was so freaking stressful — and then you thought, this is parenting.

Then your child gets into a school and suddenly there are all these issues/shit that appears that you did not know about.  Social skills, possibly testing for ADHD or another set of letters.  You worry about your child being bullied, or being the bully.

You march along when you see a bite on your child — and the bite becomes your everything.  You talk to a hundred people, join a few groups that talk about biting.  Either your kid is the bitten or the biter. And you think, okay this is parenting.

And so it goes on.

There are so many stages in your child’s life — that become your life and you keep saying or thinking “okay, this is fucking parenting — what ever was happening before, was just a minor preempt.”

This weekend I had a “this is parenting” ……

 

My son is 16 years old.  He is a lovely sweet boy who for 98% of the time is a real cool guy.

He is a standard issue 16 year old where everything is about his immediate enjoyment, his friends are his reality, his face is normally facing a screen of some sorts.

But the upside is that he is polite, funny, gets excited about stuff, and is a joy.  For the majority of the time.

Parenting him has been easy for the most part.  I have three children, and the youngest is a thug, so I will be honest, my attention is often drawn to her and keeping her out of the 28’s gang, and to stop her being the “bully” at school.

16 year old is very into his mates.  Like they are everything.  Bro-mance has nothing on this.

He likes to be with them, or they are all together at his dad’s house (my house is too small to have them together in one place) — so he often bows out of things and asks to go to a friend, and I normally give him permission.

A few weeks ago we had a day where he was all over the show and he did not tell me where he was, and I was having to keep phoning him and finding out where he was.

That evening we spoke and I explained how important it was that I knew where he was — that he was honest with me, and that he was safe.  So we had this great conversation and it went really well, and I walked away from that going “dude, totally aced this parenting thing… look at me” and then I high-fived myself.

Fast forward to this weekend.

He asks to stay over at a friend for Friday.  He tells me the friend, and gives me the mom’s details.  He has stayed over several times and his friend J is within walking distance from the house.  I agree, check with the mom, she says that everything is cool and off my 16 year old goes.

Now I will confess I did not think through Saturday — I thought I would give him flexibility and he can hang with his mates and he can be back late in the afternoon.

I had my daughters’ friends over — so I had four girls with me on Saturday.

I started to feel slightly uneasy as a certain point — around 2pm —- as I had not received pings from my 16 year old.  I felt that the “chain of agreement” we had discussed, was falling apart a bit.  Totally actually.

I sent him a few “where are you messages” and got some vague responses.  I sort of let it past, as I was a bit distracted by the 4 girls and attempting to roller skate and not break a knee, and I thought he will be home around 17h00 and then I can calm down.

Late afternoon swings by — I now turn my attention to my 16 year old, who is not home and is showing no movements in that direction.

I start asking him where he is — vague responses.  I start to step up my messages, and I am getting no response or vague responses.  I start to call my son, and it goes to voice mail.

Nothing makes you dial your child 150 times than going straight to voice mail – when you know he has his phone sewn to the side of his face, so does not leave his phone anywhere away from his body at any given time.

I am getting no feedback on where this child is.

My head has already orchestrated him OD’ing and being on the side of the road (nothing supported by reality —- but when you brain moves into the range of “shit to worry about” there is no stopping the escalation).

This child is not responding.

Eventually I am at my wit’s end — I think it is around 19h00 now — I tell him I am putting the girls in the car, and we are going to the police station and reporting him as a missing child.    We are at this point of the evening.

He then called me back and said he is fine and safe, and I can punish him tomorrow and then he puts the phone down.

I have no idea which opium den he is in, which child trafficker has him and where he is being held hostage.  I am freaking the feck out — now keeping in mind I had been escalating for about 5 hours.

I am like a pressure cooker, that just needs another 3 – 5 minutes of applied heat and I am about to blow the freaking ceiling off.

Further calls go straight to voice mail.

I lose my shit (some more) —- short trip at this point.

I phone his dad who is travelling in India or somewhere equally far away.  I just felt if I had managed to break and kill our child he should know.  He also tries to phone said child, and also to voice mail.

I call one of his friend’s mom and explain to her that my 16 year old has gone AWOL and is there any chance that he is with J.  I said I think he is with his friend Avw — whose details I do not know.  She said she does, and calls the mom.

The parents are off camping.  The thinking is the boys are all together at a home without any parental supervision, and parental permission in my case.

J’s mom does not tell me the address.  I think she realised that I am at that point where I would arrive there with a 200kg gorilla who  would just yank my child out of there with or without his consent, and probably cause a scene and leave some blood on the door frame.

I am not sure how a gorilla got into my train of over imagination and over reaction.

Eventually J’s mom says her son has stopped answering the phone and says she will drive over there and check on what is going on.  We are now at about 22h00 on Saturday night.

It appears the boys are just hanging out.

I still do not know where he is, I still do not have any control over this situation.  I am trying to be calm but I have now sort of moved into how to move this from a three child family to a two child family.

Sunday swings by — I walk up feeling drunk, I am exhausted and stressed and literally every nerve fiber is frayed.

I go through another day where this little fecker just does not come home.  Eventually I send him a few threatening messages.

My 16 year old arrives around 17h00  – 18h00.

By this point I am already scraping his name off the door.  My sense of humour.  My upbeat manner is long long gone.

My 16 year old walks in without a care in the world.

I am going to end the story there, as we are not sure yet how to deal with his punishment.

I need to wait until my ex gets back from his overseas trip, as it is important we are on the same page here.  He moves between both our homes and it is pointless me instigating a punishment regime that is not being used at the other house.

The theme of this post is “so this is parenting” …. and really this weekend taught me that what ever the stress I had before regarding breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, buying purity of making his puree, the wooden toys which are better than the plastic toys for him, worrying about how he holds his pencil, his keeping up with the learning levels of the class, whether rugby is safe for him, will he have friends, will he fall apart because of the divorce, how will he adjust to the new living situation, am I working hard enough to keeping an open channel of communication with him …… all of this ….. all of this just disappeared into the mist of “my son went AWOL and I had no idea where he was for more than 24 hours” ………… and this people, this is parenting.  Hard core.

#fuckthisparentingmalarkey

 

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School application season starts again …..

I don’t take photographs any more …..

I have been looking through photographs of my children, my family, my life. Me.

I love taking photographs – I love having that record of where they were at that moment. How I captured that moment, that split second in time.

I always have a camera with me – I prefer to take photographs on my SLR camera than I do on my phone, but right now I do not take photographs on either.

I think I will remember how things were or how they appeared, but I don’t —or I can’t.  You are so busy worrying about the million other things that are happening, that you forget.  Important stuff.

Those moments you want to hold on to.

When I go through old images I start to smile, or cry, and I just cannot believe that time has passed by in the way it has.

Where has it all gone?  How much have I missed?

I am doing a project now and I am moving through some old photographs on my Facebook history and it has hit me hard in the gut area.

First the memory, that this was my life.  That this. Was my life.  That this is no longer my life.

I am not that person any more.  These people are no longer part of my life.  I feel I am not remembering all the important things that my children are doing.  I think I will — but I can’t.

That person is not who I am.  I am not always sure of exactly who I am. I am struggle a bit to find my own identity.

Often when I look at pictures I have taken, I can remember me on the other side of the lens and how I felt taking that image.  I can recall that exact moment.

Divorce changes so much about you – it changed how I viewed history, how I viewed moments in time, how I viewed me as a person, and how I viewed where you fitted in.

It’s like the trick where you pull the table cloth off a fully set table – with the aim to have all the items remaining in place, because the table cloth was pulled off so quickly.  That’s the trick.

The reality is all the crockery and cutlery op-focked onto the floor and sort of lay there in pieces.

When you go through something that is such a life-shifter, your memories change.  Your way of looking at things changes.

Your life changes in every possible way.  No matter how hard you smile and say “I’m good hey….” … “Yep, yeah, things are great….”

I have slowly but surely stopped taking photographs.  I don’t think the change was gradual, it was rather I just stopped.

I am not sure why.

I am pretty sure I know why.

I am not sure how I can start again.

For many reasons I have stopped living my life.  My life seems to be on hold.  To just be stagnating.

I am stuck and I can’t always explain it well.  I shouldn’t be.  I look around and tell myself I shouldn’t be.

I have so much to be grateful for.  I have so much in my life.

But.

I have not allowed myself to carry on living my life.

This life, what ever this is, just does not feel right or mine.  The only time I feel fully complete is when I am with my children.  Somehow they are the extension of me that is the only true thing in my life,

My north.  My compass.

When I am with them, I can breath.  My chest does not feel so tight.

When the girls are with me they sleep in my bed.

I actually get no sleep as they are like two sweaty octopuses and clearly I need a bigger bed.  I am too petrified to let them go and sleep in their own beds.

That I will be giving up this last semblance of what makes me feel complete.  So I let them sleep in my bed, because I am not ready to give this up yet.

It is actually tremendously sad to tell the truth.  To no longer see your life worthy of taking a photograph of.

Of not having the energy, the power, the will, the want, to take a photograph.  To record your life.

When I look at these photographs I have taken years ago, I laugh, I smile, I cry — they make me really happy and desperately sad at the same time.

I have convinced myself that I am living my life.  I am very good at reassuring everyone else that I am fine, that I am really fine, nothing to see here.

I realise I am watching “me” living my life.

When I interact with people, I hold back so much of myself that I am actually absent from the situation.  It’s now an automatic measure. There are very few conversations and interactions I have where I am truly present.

It allows me the freedom to just walk away from people without having to cry about it.  Yes, I do realise that that is a bit of a disaster, but it is a wonderful coping mechanism.  Right now.

Maybe it is the fear of being hurt again === that I just cannot give 100% of myself.  Maybe it is that I just do not feel whole.  Maybe it is that I actually do not feel connected, really connected, to anyone around me.

I can fake connection like no one’s business.

And here is the trick, people are so busy with their own lives that they are happy with the basics in terms of interactions.  They do not ask for more, they do not realise that you are just not there.

When I smile I do not actually smile, it doesn’t reach further than my mouth.

But holy shitballs when I cry, I am 100% committed.  I really get behind that shit.  I can spend a weekend in various states of tears, and I need very little to set me off.

I do keep my shit under wraps as best as I can.

I do what needs to be done.  I am highly productive.  Smile at who I need to, say the right things, make the right coo’ing sounds necessary when it is a story that needs a “coo” as a retort.

I am sorry I have not blogged more, I really need this space right now.