Why is that when some people have kids they seem to lose their identity outside of being “Jimmy or Janie’s Mom”? When my daughter (now 14) started preschool, everyone was just “someone’s mom”. This made me insane. Not that I was unhappy or ashamed to be someone’s mother, but because I still had a friggen name, and that name was not “J’s Mom”. So maybe the preschool industry perpetuates this loss of identity, but I think it’s up to the parent to make a conscious decision to still be an individual.

 I work next to a girl who has two small(er) kids. And yes, of course, they are very cute, and funny, and everything they say is just brilliant and insightful, but I can’t remember the last time I actually had a conversation with this person that didn’t involve the words “H said this” or “listen to what M did!.” I get it, as parents we’re proud of our kids, we think they’re wonderful, but how do you tell someone “enough with the kids stories already? Get a life!” because that’s what it comes down to, really, getting a life.

I know that the attitude exists that once you have kids you’ll make them your life until they leave for college, but there are not enough words to describe how totally I am against this line of thinking.  It’s important for parents/people/adults to have friends of their own, interests of their own, time to themselves, and things that are just theirs or for them. This doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you real. It makes you well rounded. Because if you’ve done your job well as a parent, someday those kids that you’ve centered your entire existence around will move out. They’ll go to college, they’ll get a life. And what will you be left with?

For most of my life, until I was around 15, I thought that my maternal grandmothers name was “Dolly”. That’s what my Papa called her, that’s how other family members addressed her. Then, when I was 15, I learned that her name was actually Julia. I remember thinking to myself “if you have a name as beautiful as Julia, why would you want to be called ‘Dolly’?”. It was then that I decided that if/when I ever had a daughter that she would be named Julia. 

Several years later, when I was dating my (now ex) husband, we attended the wedding of my cousin. Shortly afterwards, he and his new wife announced that they would be naming a future daughter ‘Julia’, after our Nana. I made it clear that I had laid claim to that name years before them, but that I had no problem with multiple Julia’s in the family. I considered it a tribute to my Nana, who had since passed away.

Fortunately, I was the one who got pregnant first (albeit accidentally) and I willed that baby into having a vagina so that I could have my name. It worked, and in 2007 I had my Nana’s namesake.  From day one she had my Nana’s feisty-ness. Minutes after she was born she had to be suctioned, and I remember her grabbing the tube and yanking it out of her mouth with both of her tiny hands.

A few years later, at bedtime, both kids were asking me about their name and where they came from. I first explained to Alex that we had a few names picked out for him if he turned out to be a boy, and when he was born we took a delivery room poll to choose between the two names we liked best (Devon was our other choice). The results were unanimous that he was definitely an ‘Alex’, so that is what we went with. When my fraternal grandparents visited him in the hospital and learned what his name would be my grandfather asked “what kind of a name is that?”. (In my Italian family it’s customary to name the boys after the paternal grandfather, but at that point we already had like four “Josephs” and I didn’t think we needed another one)

I gave Julia the backstory about her name, and then I went on to say that I would always be sad that she would never know the woman she was named for. How she never raised her voice, but could silence you with a look, how she always smelled good, how her nails were always perfect, how she was sharp and quick witted, and died way too soon. I told her that her Nana would have adored her, and how much they would have loved each other.

Julia was quiet for a moment, thinking over what I had told her. Then she said “I have my Nana’s name, and I’m always gonna keep it safe”. She was six. I had to leave the room to call my mom to relay the conversation, and we cried on the phone together.

I think that one of the hardest parts of being a parent to older kids (J is 14, A is 12) is that the older they get the less control you have over their little lives. That isn’t to say that I’m looking to control them (that much), but when they’re small you get to have a say in everything. From what they eat to what they wear, when they go to bed, who they play with, what they play with, what they watch on TV, the list is long. But when they get older you send them off to school every day and kind of just hope for the best. And when someone hurts their feelings or mistreats them, you can’t have a meeting with the teacher, there is no “time out” in middle school. You can give them advice on how to deal with it until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, it’s all on them, and not on you. So when your daughter buys a Valentines Day brownie gram and sends it to a friend in order to “make up” and that friend basically snubs her, causing seriously hurt feelings, what can I do as a parent? She’s not being bullied (which is a term that is thrown around far to often in my opinion), this is just normal friend crap that happens/happened to us all. But it breaks my heart to see her so sad. And every fiber of my being wants to march into school and throttle the kid that is making her life harder than it needs to be. But I can’t do that.

There was a recent story on the news in my area about a mom whose kindergarten son was hit by a classmate, a little girl. The mother got on the school bus and put her hands on that little girl, and was subsequently arrested. Now, I completely agree that she should have been arrested, and if it were my child she laid her hands on I’d be furious. But on another level I can see where she was coming from, I know the feeling of being so angry that someone has hurt your child and wanting to lash out on their behalf. But luckily I have that “don’t do that!” switch that stops me from throttling other peoples kids.

People with small kids are always looking forward to the future. They think that their life will be easier when little Billy is potty trained, and goes to school full time, but what no one tells you when you have little kids, is that the older they get the bigger the problems are. When you’re faced with a house full of teenagers, you’ll long for the days when homework was drawing a picture of your family, and your child’s toughest decision was what toy to play with, and your biggest fight was over what they were eating for dinner.

I think it is a well known fact that men are not the most patient gender. And when your man is a 12 year old boy, it’s even worse. At the end of the day, A just wants to go home. Period.

My relationship with my mother is a whole other post that will come someday, but suffice it to say that after years of animosity and hurt feelings we are forging a truce of sorts. She picks the kids up after school every day and they hang out at her house until I pick them up after work.  I decided a few days ago to go inside instead of just beeping, so that I could check out the new, monstrous “smart” TV that had been purchased with the tax return money burning a hole in my stepfathers pocket (you can get on Hulu, and Facebook, from your TV!).

Apparently I was taking too long, because A announced that he was going to start walking home. I bid him farewell, and out the door he went. Now, we live on the other side of the city, it was pretty cold out, and I had no doubt that he would be back in three minutes.

Three minutes passed. No A.

J announced that she was going to take the dog and go and get him.

J comes back 15 minutes later. No A.

My brother takes a shot at it, in his car. No A.

At this point I am not admitting to the fact that I’m starting to feel a little panicked. Ha ha, he wouldn’t really walk all the way home, would he?

My mom suggested that we might want to call the police. By now he had been gone almost an hour and it was getting pretty dark outside. I didn’t want to start an uproar by calling the police, but luckily I have police friends, so I called one of them and he was thankfully on duty. So he starts looking. I get in my car and decide to actually drive the route home. This meant going down a very long and winding road with no sidewalks, onto an extremely busy main street in our city with four lanes of traffic. About halfway home I spotted A, sitting on a lamp post on a corner, patiently waiting with his backpack.

He knew I’d come find him, he knew the way home. And when I asked him if he was crazy, and what he was thinking, his reply was:

“I told you I was going to walk home”.

Yes, yes you did.

This is my second foray into blogging. The first was at a pretty depressing time in my life, and in re-reading the posts I put up, the only thing I can think is “damn girl, you are pathetic”. So in an effort to no longer be pathetic I am starting fresh.

In all the articles I’ve read about how to have a “successful” blog, the main points are that you should post often and have a central theme. Posting often is something that I would like to do, but as far as themes go, does “random” count? There’s no way I can come here every day and just write about gardening (mostly because I’m not a gardner), or home improvement, or food, fashion, parenting, etc… I am not looking to establish yet another Mommy Blog, but that’s not to say that I won’t be posting mom-type stories often. I am, after all, a mom. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll have something interesting to post, and maybe sooner or later I can gather some followers (but not in a cult-way, more in a “we read your stuff and we think you are fabulous/awful” way).

Thanks for stopping by!

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