It was the best of times. It also fucking sucked.
The other day I had one of those days where parenting tested me. More so than usual. And I am pretty sure I failed on at least three to four counts. After a while, you start to lose count with these kinds of things when your kids are screaming at you saying, “I HATE YOU MOMMY!!”
Let me back up a little.
It all started out pretty great. Some nice family time in the morning. The afternoon was spent with some close friends at a pediatric cancer awareness fundraiser for Journey 4 a Cure.
It all started out pretty innocently.
“Mommy, I need some more supplies for my desk at school. Can you buy me some?” Shaila asked.
Most parents can be a little skittish about talking about puberty with their kids. I completely understand this anxiety. After all, when’s the right time to answer certain questions? How do you most delicately prepare them for the changes that are going to happen to their body? How much information is too much?
I’m of the school of thought that telling the truth is better. Now, the only problem is that my husband strongly disagrees with me on this. My thought is, why beat around the bush and confuse them more? But my kids are young – nearly 5 and 7 – and their tender little brains can explode from the information I share with them. At least, that’s what my husband thinks.
The other day, as we sat around the kitchen table having dinner, both kids brought their questions on full force.
I remember one early summer morning in High School, my mother pulled over next to the Track & Field house to drop me off. I gave my mom a quick peck on the cheek and jumped out of the car. My coach, Mr. Miller was standing there, waiting for all of the stragglers to get in for our 6:30 AM cross country practices.
“Well, you’ll never be able to deny you’re related,” he said. “You look exactly like her!”
Oh, NO. No, no, no, no, no.
I remember being disturbed by Coach Miller’s observation as we did our run that morning, only half interested in whatever conversation the team was making. Did I really look like my mother? If I did, what parts of me did? Because there were some parts I’d be okay with and others I wouldn’t be so happy about.
Sometimes it’s the way he looks at me when he’s exasperated. It’s the way I feel when I feel like he is being too critical of me or of one my many perceived shortcomings. Sometimes it’s just the things he says and my God, the way he says them that makes me want to rip my hair out. It’s the way he stresses me out sometimes when I just want things to flow. It’s the way he gets so overexcited when he relays a story that he leaves out ten critical points, leaving me clueless as to what he’s talking about.
The “he” in question is my husband, John.
I am sure he has his own laundry list of things that I do that annoy the absolute shit out of him. I would list out the ones I know, but there are too many to list and I wouldn’t want to bore you.
Some of you might know that a while ago, I started a company called Simply Om. The purpose of the company is to support fair trade artisans around the world who are working themselves out of oppression and dire circumstances by making jewelry out of local, sustainable resources. My hope is to one day build my own community of artisans and help teach them how to design and make jewelry and make themselves employable and give them a skillset so they don’t have to resort to begging or worse.
When I was a kid, I used to write “Letters to Myself.” This may seem odd and no, I don’t have multiple personalities. I just wanted to make sure that as an adult, I didn’t forget about all the “horrible” things my parents did to to embarrass me while I lived under their roof. I figured if I could warn myself in the future and help prevent my children from suffering the same kind of embarrassment that I had been through, we could potentially break the cycle. Thus leading to less money spent on counseling sessions, which would be a win-win from any perspective, because even my parents would agree that we shouldn’t waste money. I didn’t start the letters until I was in middle school, but I think I covered my bases pretty well.
So without further ado, let me present you with the teenage Masala Chica’s list of parental “Dos” and “Don’ts.”
Sometimes it’s a sudden break. Other times it’s a more gradual retreat. In some circumstances, you are left with answers. Other times, you are left with nothing – just wounds that don’t heal because you don’t have the answers you need to seal the fissure once and for all.
Losing a friend is a terrible thing. It’s painful and can be an extremely traumatic thing to go through. One day, someone is in your life and the next they are suddenly gone.
I have felt the absence of an old friend of mine since she departed from my life. I don’t know why the pain still lingers for me. Sometimes I wonder if she ever feels the absence of me, and then I wonder to myself why it should matter. She’s chosen to not have me in her life.
I have a beautiful friend named Shayna*. Ok, I have many beautiful friends, but Shayna is like – really stunning.
We are close friends and we try to help each other out when we can – by lending a supportive ear to one another, by commiserating on the challenges of parenting and by being available to share some great conversation over a glass of wine when we are so lucky.
Whenever people find out I am friends with Shayna, I will usually hear something like the following:
“Oh my God, she is so beautiful.”
“She is one of the most naturally pretty people I know.”
“Come on, she’s had some work done, right? Nobody’s just that pretty.”
I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t a little part of me that’s just the teensiest bit jealous over the magnitude with which people wax lyrical over Shayna’s beauty. But I also fully acknowledge that they are right. And she’s an incredible person to boot.
Sometimes I look back at the way I was before I had kids. I imagine people from a generation older than mine might have even said, “Now that one? She’s a little firecracker.” And they would have been right. I was a firecracker. I was driven, I was unstoppable, I was ready to take on any challenge. I learned how to play the guitar and became the lead singer of a band in a matter of a year. I got and held onto some incredibly coveted jobs in a job market that was not the kindest to everyone. I ran my first marathon and covered at least six miles each morning before the sun came out. I modeled part-time and made some decent money peddling Nextel phones in ad campaigns and being in Thievery Corporation videos.
Firecracker. Pistol. Whatever form of explosive, I was it.
I’m someone who likes to go into things prepared. Pregnancy was no different. When I was pregnant you couldn’t pry the second edition of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” from my bloated, clammy fingers. I read each chapter with the gusto some might save for something like “Gone, Girl”. I would read, re-read, daydream and read some more.
And by the time I made it through that book, and several others like it, I was ready. And my baby was ready too. She was looking to make an early entrance and so I was on bed rest, leaving me more time to read about the joys of breastfeeding, mucous plugs and cord blood donation. Intoxicating stuff, really. But it was all leading me towards my preparation of being able to manage my bundle of joy.