I’ve given birth three excruciating times. Everyone had advice for me then. I was told all about babies, babies I could handle, but no-one, and I mean no-one told me about tweens and teenagers. No-one explained that I would never, ever again sleep late, or have a weekend, or decide to skip dinner and just sleep.
It’s like getting a puppy. You’re all prepared for a bundle for cuteness and no-one really explains that said bundle of furry joy will shortly turn into a hell-hound hellbent on destroying your shoes, your furniture and anything chewable. Kids are like that too. Only, it goes for longer.
My beloved firstborn is a rower and has a girlfriend. This means my weekends are spent ferrying him to regattas, training and PDAs with said girlfriend.
So, no more Saturday afternoon lazy braais and a lot more sitting around in coffee-shops waiting for them to emerge from the movies holding hands and generally being adorable cute.
Also I spend that time plotting how to destroy her if she breaks my boy’s heart.
Yeah, you thought that once your baby slept through the night it would all be roses and snooze buttons.
HAH! Bazinga! It’s not.
Getting said firstborn to training at 5am most mornings is not my idea of sleeping in. And on the rare occasions when I don’t have to get up before the early birds, one off my offspring will decide that it is vital, a matter of life and death, an emergency of Chicken Little proportions to peel my eyelids open to see if I’m awake yet to provide food.
I wasn’t, but it’s kind of hard to not be NOW.
I remember with a nostalgic sepia tint that time when my boys were just happy to have clothes. Now, it takes them longer than me to get ready to go anywhere and the trauma if the perfect t-shirt is not ironed to perfection!
As for my daughter? She’s 9. My clothes are her clothes. Ergo. I have no clothes. All my t-shirts are her dresses, actually, even my dresses are her dresses. My shoes are her shoes. Ergo. I have no shoes.
I spend my mornings scrabbling through her drawers trying to find something to wear.
I thought this happened later? Like when she was 16?
Once upon a time, one large pizza would feed the whole family. Now, everyone gets their own large pizza, and I get a slice of one. And then, 30 minutes later they’re all hungry again.
Locusts. They’re like locusts. They eat ALL THE TIME! Anything. I spend more time feeding them now than when they were babies.
If my boys continue on this trend, I’ll need to buy a farm to keep them in food stuffs.
My gratitude that Facebook and Twitter and WhatsApp were not around during my teenage years knows no bounds. My parents were kept safely insulated from adolescent trauma.
Now, my son spends his allotted 2 hours a day chatting with girls and periodically grunting at me in some form of early pre-verbal caveman communication.
And I spend the same 2 hours freaking out about child molesters and cyber-bullying.
Parenting is a minefield that shifts all the time. Just when you think you’ve got it mapped out, the mines relocate and you end up saying something innocuous like, “How was your day?” and BOOM!
You’re left lying on the ground with your legs blown off wondering what the hell just happened.
I wonder if ’empty nest syndrome’ is actually the parental equivalent of PTSD?