“Change is the only constant in life.” — Heraclitus
Even though I think this is true, I have never been a big fan of change. That’s just my way.
Still, the thing about universal truths is that they are, well, universal, so I work hard at being ok with the shifting sands beneath my feet.
Take now, for instance.
My husband and I have two adolescent boys under our roof. That, plus my own estrogen “situation”, has made me feel a little disoriented lately. Be the change, you say?
My family is on it.
One of the biggest areas where I’m feeling a shift, is my approach to parenting. Specifically, I am finding that there are certain tricks and strategies that, like my yoga pants from 2010, just don’t seem to fit anymore.
Take, Faking It, for example.
As in (cough, cough) other situations, Faking It in parenting is something that most of us have done, but few of us want to cop to.
Well, I am here to represent!
Whether it was faking that I wasn’t terrified of flying in order to get my then five year old to board a plane, or faking that I thought the toddler classes at My Gym were fun, and not actually the tenth fucking ring of hell, Faking It has always been a useful strategy in my mommy tool box.
People say little kids can tell when your lying, but I’m happy to call bullshit on this myth because my boys fell for all of it.
Faking It allowed me to be a better version of myself, and I wanted that for my boys.
The truth is that before having kids, I was the kind of person who didn’t recycle. I blew off voting if it was in any way inconvenient, and I always left my empty popcorn container on the floor of the movie theatre.
I was kind of an asshole, you guys.
But when I became a mom, like, the second the cord was cut, I knew I wanted to be different. I wanted my boys to at least think they had a sane mommy, not some half-baked undereducated woman-child with a boatload of anxiety. Personally, I think it worked, with the bonus of eventually making me a better citizen.
But things have changed. We’ve all grown up a little and for some reason, Faking It has started to feel… fake.
Last weekend, for example, I drop my kid off at his sex-ed class, you know, like you do.
(I’ll for sure be writing more about the whole sex-ed thing, but for now you just need to know that I enrolled my fourteen year old in this class hosted by my awesome UU church because, oddly enough, he isn’t too keen on chatting with his mom about masturbation, genital warts and dental dams. Go figure. It’s a great program you can learn about here.)
After dropping him off, I’m in the car with my eleven year old, who’s using my phone to find an age appropriate educational podcast we can listen to on the way to the park, when a text comes in. It’s from the teacher of the class, a friend of mine. From the back seat, 11 reads it to me. “We need fifty condoms, asap”.
Apparently there was some kind of game planned for class that day and they were short a few supplies.
Taking advantage of the teachable moment, I tell 11 all about condoms. I tell him what they are for, how they are used, and that we needed to go buy some for his brother’s class
So far, so good.
But as we search for a parking place at our local Rite Aid, I start to feel a little funny.
(Time out— You guys, I am totally not usually hung up about sex. Seriously. It’s probably one of the few hang-ups I don’t have, but I haven’t bought condoms since, like, Clinton’s first term, and apparently it is now super embarrassing for me to do so. I know, totally dumb.)
After panting through the store like a mad woman, attracting the attention of all the normal mothers who were buying sunscreen and Claritin, we finally find aisle seven, or what I like to call, the Sex Aisle.
“What are those?” My son asks.
“Condoms,” I answer, “like we were talking about in the car.” No biggie, I think, perusing the vast array of choices available.
“Why are there so many kinds?”
“Because each is a little different,” I tell him, somewhat distracted. I just need the cheapest, biggest box, and I need to get it before anyone comes and judges me for being all sexed up and desperate for rubbers at two in the afternoon.
“How are they different?” He asks, peering over my shoulder.
Reader, I’m totally down with this conversation. I read Meg Hickling’s book and at the right time I am capable of answering all these questions and more. But at this moment, I am feeling fifteen years old and I just want to get the goods and get the hell out of there.
I unlatch and lifted the plastic door of what is, I guess, a little condom safe, to grab some Trojans.
DIIIIINNNGGG! An alarm sounds, making us both jump.
“What’s that?” 11 asks, but I’m busy reading the box I’ve nabbed. Twenty-six, not nearly enough. Shit. I go in again.
“Are you stealing?” My son asks, as I frantically search for a bigger box, knocking something called a Pleasure Pack to the floor. I’m intrigued, but need to stay on task.
I quickly try to put it back—-DIIINNNGGGG!!
Flashing on all the times I shoplifted tampons just to avoid the teenage boy at the cash register, I giggle and say a little too loudly, “I’m not stealing.” God, I’ve got issues.
With sweaty palms, I open the cabinet fast, and grab a different box.
For the love of all that is holy, can a person not just buy fifty condoms without the world knowing???
“Security check on aisle seven!” blasts over the store intercom.
“Let’s get out of here,” I hiss. As we made our way to the registers, I grab a few other things— index cards, pencils, Us Magazine, just to round out my haul, so to speak.
“You dropped these,” 11 says, handing me a big box of Trojan Stimulations Ultra-Ribbed. My eyes dart around as I put them in my basket, trying to decide which line to stand in. The woman on register 1 looks a little judgey to me, but register 2 is some poor high school kid. I opt for the zoned out cashier on the end.
The whole time, 11 is watching me with a smile that says, “who are you trying to fool?
I have to laugh. I’m trying to fake being cool, but he is almost twelve, and sees right through me. It’s kind of a relief.
When my boys were younger, faking helped me hide. We could argue whether they needed that or not, but the fact was that I needed it. I wasn’t sure I was good enough for them. Actually, I was sure I wasn’t good enough for them.
But now I want my sons to see me.
They see that I am not a rock, and I have no interest in pretending to be. We are all human, the sands shifting beneath each us. Being human is being embarrassed and awkward and falling short sometimes and none of those things are fatal.
When I pick 14 up after class, I share the story of my shopping trip with him, the real story, no filter.
“Poor Mom,” he laughs, and pats me on the shoulder.
Things are changing, for real. I’m trying to roll with it.