Parenting through adolescence. Ew.

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I don’t journal or keep a diary…unless you consider this blog a diary of sorts, which I do. But there are some days when I would like Journal-with-a-capital-J to listen. Or Diary. Or Lady Galadriel. Or whatever I choose to name my paginated reflections. Some days I want Diary to be a friend. A confidante who will keep my secrets safe while not judging me – whose inanimate silence can be interpreted as the same satisfying validation of a friend nodding in agreement as you spill your woes across from her over coffee at Panera.

But I don’t keep a journal or a diary. If I did, it might go something like this…

Dear Diary,

Today I poured a glorious cup of hazelnut coffee into my mug. It’s Saturday, Diary. Woo hoo! I can’t wait to sip my morning cup while little Bubbalooshki Bear eats his breakfast in his high ch–  oh…hold on Diary…there’s a fly buzzing around my – oh, there’s another one!. …  Ok, where was I. Ah, yes. My hot, rich cup of java bliss. The only little piece of the day that I take for myself. Mmmm. I just love th–  Ugh. Hang on…my phone is ringing. …   …   … Dang, the baby’s crying. Hold on…  

Diary, it’s me. I’m back. Can I ask you something? Is it so much to ask to finish just one fucking cup of coffee? Just one cup? In my lifetime. Ever? Again? Diary, am I being unreasonable? Don’t you think I should be able to drink a cup of coffee without sixteen goddamn coffee lines crusted inside my cup that mark the hours over which I attempt to sip while it grows lukewarm, then cold? When I don’t have to microwave it six times? AAARRRGGGH! Why does the universe HATE me, Diary????

Now perhaps you see why I don’t keep a diary. Poor Diary would have to listen to my relentless, unfounded whining on a daily or nightly basis, and where would that get us? I’m not really an Oprah “Gratitude Journal” type. There are plenty of things around me for which I am profoundly grateful every day. I don’t need to record them to experience full appreciation.

Sometimes I do need someone who will nod and say to me, “Hell yeah, you deserve that coffee! I got your back. I’ma stand guard right here until you sip that last drop, and if anyone or anything even attempts to enter your sacred coffee circle, I will knock that shit on its ass. Oh, and I agree with you about everything you’ve ever said. Ever. I love you.”

Diaries are great like that, aren’t they? At least I assume they are. A place to just say how you feel. I mean if I said some of these things to a real person, I’d probably be carted off and marked with the scarlet letter “H” for “Horrible Mother.” I’d be labeled as selfish, petulant, ignorant, unthankful, negative, weird, uncouth… the list goes on. Because when we write private thoughts, we think they’ll be private forever.

The truth is, journals are on my mind because Hubs and I just watched an excellent documentary called “Mortified Nation.” The premise involves adults reading aloud their intimate diary entries, written when they were adolescents, to a substantial crowd. It’s become somewhat of a movement, and the production now takes place regularly in several large cities. The readers are able to laugh at themselves – the selves they were back when they wrote in their journals – and the audience laughs with them. Yes. I say with them, not at them. A main takeaway from the documentary is that, while these readers may have felt alone and angry and even confused when they wrote in their diaries, they were now facing an entire audience of people, reading their deepest (and sometimes must ridiculously dramatic) thoughts aloud, and these people – the audience – had their back.

As I listened to these brave people read intimate details about first loves, fitting in, body image concerns, sexuality, and several hideous swear words aimed toward parents, it hit me.

Oh, God. Some day Bubbalooshki Bear will be an [gulp] ad-o-lesc-ent.

Shit.

Shit shit shit…shit.

There will come a day when the boy whose feet I kiss every night, whose toes I pretend-eat, whose boogies I wipe, whose soft hair I nuzzle, will start to piece together the world around him. He’ll form opinions of his own. He’ll have struggles. He’ll have a crush one day. He’ll get rejected, made fun of, and one day (or on many days) will think that he hates us. His parents. Who love him so deeply it hurts. There will be things that he does not tell us – times when he won’t confide in us.

I know this because there are just things you don’t tell your parents. Maybe you’re embarrassed. Maybe you think they’ll judge you. Maybe you just want to struggle alone sometimes. Or maybe you confide in a friend instead. What’s more crushing is that it doesn’t matter how much you tell your kids, “You can tell me anything.” Some might. The truth is, some might not.

So, here’s to my parents, and to all good parents out there fighting the good fight – I tip my hat to you…well, I’m not wearing one, so I raise my coffee-that-is-cold-by-now mug to you. I’m starting to get it now. Being a parent is hard. Really hard. And not just because kids get one kernel of corn in their mouth for every twenty they drop on the floor, or because they get poop on you sometimes, or because they bite when they’re mad. No, it’s hard because they grow up. Fast. So fast. It hurts my heart to think of Bubbalooshki suffering one day and not coming to me for help. But that’s life and it’s how we all grow up. We can’t always control our children, and we certainly can’t control what happens to them. Maybe by the time he’s old enough to have these struggles he’ll smell so bad I’ll just have to get rid of him.

I’ll have to trust him to make the right choices. If he’s angry, or scared, or lovesick and feels that he can’t come to us, then I hope he has a good friend to confide in. And if he feels he cannot confide in a friend, then I hope Diary is there. For now, I will write in my non-existent gratitude journal how thankful I am that my son is not even two yet. Phew.

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