I Should Apologize To My Mother

I never thought I'd be a good parent. Before I had children, I firmly believed any off spring of mine was destined to be saddled with a trucker mouth and a one way ticket for polishing a silver pole. I had visions of visiting my imaginary children behind plexiglass screens and listening to them regale me with tales of how they tried avoiding dropping any bars of soap in the communal prison shower.

I never held out much hope that I'd end up being a responsible parent which likely explains why I had a full fledged freak out when I first discovered I was pregnant all those many years ago. (Jan 8, 1996 for the record. I remember the exact day. Because I'm still traumatized.)

However, like discovering one has an unknown talent for yodeling or table tennis, I soon learned I had a knack for this maternal gig. Of course, it helped that I had no choice in the matter, these children followed me around where ever I went regardless of my preference, but it turned out I actually liked being a mom.

It was like discovering a third nipple or that pigs really could fly, I tell ya.

I settled into my parenting role and I became arrogant. I overcame the tumultuous toilet training years, the temper tantrums and the nose picking. I learned I wasn't great at toddler parenting but I absolutely rocked the Mommy show with kids six and up.

I relaxed and started to enjoy the parenting path I was on, confident in my navigational skills and I became cocky.

Because I am naturally a dough head.

My children stopped being six. Or nine. Or even 11. They abandoned their childhood years gleefully and traded them in for a bus pass to puberty and before I could stop them, they jumped on board the vehicle to adulthood.

Leaving me behind, standing at the bus station clutching their forgotten teddy bears and wailing, "Come back to me kids!! I have cookies!!"

Once again, maternal doubt has settled in, reacquainting itself with me like an unwanted high school boyfriend. I no longer feel any sort of maternal confidence and the map I thought I had guiding me towards functional happy adults turned out to be as worthless the counterfeit maps a homeless person sells to tourists who want to see where the Hollywood stars live.

It turns out, all those skills I have been teaching my children for the last 14 or so years have bit me on the arse. Independent thought, problem solving skills, independence. They are all just tools my children now employ to drive me bat sh!t crazy. I'm pretty sure I taught them about personal responsibility, politeness and respect but they seem to have chucked those skills off the bus in favour of the preferred eye roll and cheeky retorts.

Worse yet? They are JUST LIKE ME. I have no one to blame for this other than myself. That sound you hear? It's my mother's cackles of glee. Damn my husband for leaving me alone with his children and trusting me to mold them into smarter sassier versions of myself.

Last week my daughter waltzed out of the bathroom looking like she had just been in a make up session with a blind clown and she glared at me, just daring me to comment about her makeup.

She's 14. Which, to my mind, means she's still young enough not to have to trowel on any paint to look beautiful. Plus she is beautiful. Not in a, every mother thinks their kid is good looking but in a boys mouths drop when she walks in a room and I'm polishing my shotgun because I'm too young to be a grandma way.

This kid needs makeup to enhance her beauty the way I don't need a bra to keep my girls perky and pointed in the right direction. But in the spirit of letting my baby grow up and experiment in a healthy way, I've allowed her to wear small amounts of makeup carefully chosen by me so that she doesn't feel like the class freak in a school attended by Taylor Momsen wannabe's. (I am in no way responsible for the drying up of your ovaries or testicles if you click that link.)

A bit of mascara, some light eye shadow and colourless lip gloss. What more could a beautiful 14 year old need?

Well, according to my daughter, she needs foundation two shades too dark, eyeliner circling her eyes to ensure she looks like a beady eyed raccoon and blush applied in a way not even Mother Nature herself would recognize.

I looked at my kid's face and silently swallowed my coffee, wondering what the appropriate course of action would be. Other than marching her straight to the bathroom, pinning her down and scrubbing it off with a dirty wash cloth.

"You went a little heavy on the makeup today did ya?" I casually ask as she threw hot daggers at me with her eyes.

"It's FRIDAY. You said I could wear makeup on FRIDAYS."

Well yes, yes, I did. But when I said that I sincerely thought my kid wasn't blind either.

"It's a little dark. And is that foundation? Where did you get foundation from? I don't even wear foundation."

"I went to the store on my lunch break and bought some." Like Duh Mom.

"I think we need to revise the rules a bit honey. Apparently I left some wiggle room and I'd prefer it if there weren't any."

At which point my daughter huffed off back into the bathroom and reemerged looking only slightly less orange. Slightly.


It's like a trick question and I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. How does one navigate being a sensitive supportive mother and not an overbearing shrew who pushes her stubborn child further away than puberty is already dragging her?

Why can't she be more like the docile non-make up wearing teen I was who always did what her parents asked of her?

(Shut up Mom. This is my blog. Get your own.)

"It's a start, Fric. When you start applying makeup you just need to ask yourself if your father would approve. Use him as your inner guide." (Nothing like throwing their father under the bus in times of stress. I feel no shame.)

"Dad doesn't like me wearing any makeup!"

Bingo! I told you the kid was quick. "Exactly. So go lightly or the privilege will be revoked."

"YOU ARE SO UNFAIR. YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING! YOU JUST WANT TO CONTROL ME." She continued on in that vein for a few minutes but I'll be honest, I started to tune her out. Years of marriage have honed that skill like no one's business. After she stopped I looked at her and asked her if she was finished.



"Oh, I'm listening. I'm just filtering. Choosing to weed out the angsty crap and hear only the goodness. I'm pretty sure I heard you say I was the best mother ever, a mom who supports you and allows you to go out of the house even if she looks like a relation of Tammy Faye Baker. I'm sure I heard you say you are thrilled I'm a mom who allows you to voice your opinion even if it's disrespectful, irrational and over the top. I'm pretty sure you just said you are happy you have a mother who hasn't grounded you for being a smart ass and you are thankful I haven't crushed you like the teenaged bug you seem to want to be. Am I wrong?"

The sweetness of my tone was belied only by the look flashing in my eyes, blinking "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!"

My kid isn't the only one who can throw hot daggers with only her eyes.

Fric looked at me, weighing her options in her head, trying to decide if this was a battle worth fighting.

"No, I guess not." Then she sighed heavily like only a teenager can and went back to the bathroom and reemerged as the child I gave birth to.

As she left to catch the bus I called out to her, "You look beautiful Fric!" That may have been pushing it seeing as how she rolled her eyes so hard she almost went cross eyed permanently.

I watched her walk towards the end of the drive, flanked by her brothers, and I marveled at how quickly these kids of mine are growing up. And how I'm fully unprepared to deal with this beast known as puberty. Parenting was so much easier when it revolved around Legos and Lite Brites.

15 years later and I'm still getting screwed. No one tells you that when you get pregnant dammit.