Mothering On.

Mothering On.  I have to.

I have teenagers. Well, I call them both teenagers and in all reality, my oldest daughter is 22, and my youngest is 15. However just like your babies are always your “babies” until they get car keys or some other social right of passage that makes them no longer satisfied with Sophia The First, My girls will always be teenagers, until the day they are in a wedding dress, and I have no choice but to admit they are women.

So, I have teenagers. Those three words alone probably ignite some nods. Some “oh wow”’s. Perhaps a few “you poor thing”’s. Even a few “gosh you’re so lucky you don’t have to change diapers anymore”. I can in fact, from those in “the teenage know”, hear wine pop as they consider their own teens at home. They too, are probably mumbling from a distant bedroom, that they don’t “get” what life is like. Or that we parents are so mean. Or too strict. (I am right now getting texts from my true teen, telling me how unfair regulations on her wifi time is, and that NO OTHER PARENT in the realm of this universe does that.)

Sometimes, I.NEED. A. BREAK.

Here is where it would be normal, as they bicker over computer usage, brow gel and who took what out of whose room without permission, to call my mother. To get that wiser older motherly loving advice. The kind that breathes a sigh of relief all over me, as I foresee a weekend at grandma’s for them. As I sleep (catch up on laundry), have a date night (catch up on the DVR’d shows), or have some time to myself (catch up on netflix).

But, I can’t call anyone up. No one is at the end of a text. No contact in my phone is listed as “Mum”. My mum has passed on. She has been gone for a very long time. In fact, she didn’t even see ME as a teen.

So I begrudgingly reconnect the wifi and settle the naked makeup palette dispute, and assure my drama queen of a strong willed girl that there are MANY mothers out there just as mean as me, and one day she too will be shutting wifi off herself. Of course, she tells me that she will never be doing that because she knows all too well how it feels and how important it is to contact important people. Oh Caitlin, if only you knew.

My important person IS my mum. SHE would have assured me I am doing great. She would have no doubt taken her grandchildren, the oldest of whom is only 4 years younger than she was when she left this world. I know she would have. She would have done this so I could not lose my patience. So I could remember all the cute baby things. Remember the laughs and smiles and frequent hugs and kisses, and returned to my girls refreshed. Or, at least have a few piles of laundry washed and be up to date on Grey’s Anatomy. So I could MISS them.

Instead, I pour myself a glass of wine, and I miss her.

I.MOTHER.ON.  I have to.

I have NO choice. I mother alone. There IS no one but me for this. There is NO ONE to pick up the slack.

So, I.TAKE.A.BREATH

Sometimes it feels like my patience and sanity held hands, and ran away. Sometimes it gets too hard understanding teenagers. Both in a humourous way, and in a generational gap sort of way! I personally think this happened somewhere between the overplaying of “Juju on that beat”, the social trending of the Kardashian/Jenner sisters, and the delivery to my door of a package, for my daughter, that included butt enhancement cream and her first pair of spanx. *Note to self, and parents like me: Buy store specific gift cards! Do not leave your child to the wonders and splendours of online ordering with plain old Amazon or Visa cards.  

 

Parenting teens has opened my eyes to what I think I could have been like under “normal” childhood circumstances. Growing up without a mother is unlike any of the experiences that my other friends shared. I was the receiver of hand me downs from boys. The girl with the dad-given haircut. I was both under-parented and naive, and yet simultaneously mature and thoughtful for my age. I missed out on many things and grew up way too fast. I try to avoid this happening to my own children. I never wanted for them to lose this period of “freedom” they are in, where they do not feel they HAVE to take on every household chore, or be absolutely independent, and make ALL of their own decisions.  I feel this is a brilliant and selfless thing for me to do! I mean, what teen doesn’t want their mother to continue to do their laundry, and call the doctor for them, or tell them what to do and advise them in every situation? It is not only selfless of me, but I realised along the way it was dumb of me. It was a mistake in my parenting choices. I see that in hindsight, and where I, maybe, left them some of my own naivety. Especially with my oldest, whom I didn’t want to see struggle with the burdens that I had to shoulder at her age. I got better by the second child. My guess is my hypothetical 3rd, 4th and 5th children would have been utterly amazing!  Not that my two are not. I just would have been better.

Still, I have learned to rethink what I am doing. To not only consider WHAT I would like to see in my daughters, but what I  would have liked to have seen in me at that age. I think about what I feel “normal” mothers would have done, and what I missed out on. Often this leaves me having to say I’m sorry. Usually, that apology is to MYSELF. I did not get to grow up in a typical home, so I am not going to parent in a typical form. I need to accept that. I need to forgive myself. I need to keep learning. I do not want my girls to think that if you make a mistake, or choose a style of parenting/discipline/path that is not “in”, or not “normal”, that you are somehow not a vital part of this world. That you are not “normal”.  I am. They are. We are.

The best thing I have found I can do for myself is to go on, mother on. Accept the challenge that has befallen me, and rise to it. I also like to keep what little I have of my own mum, very present. Aside from her name tattooed on my wrist, and the one picture I have of her framed, my girls are both very aware of who she is to me. Of what their grandmother is to them. I keep her present. My youngest daughter has even told me she would use that name as a middle name for any future daughter she would have.

 

Someone does not need to be around, for them to be known. She, too, goes on, mother’s on. 

If you find yourself in the midst of Mothering On. In going on without your own mother around, or parenting without help, I invite you to join my new community, where we can share stories, and be compassionate towards our tribe, as we struggle through this together. Whatever your own personal story is.

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Friday Wine Night: What’s my name again?

My Friday wine night posts are meant to be a way to open up about me personally. Something that I in all honesty have not been very good at. The typical girly thoughts of judgement, over sharing, fallout, and general “what will people think of me” fears have halted ALOT of what Ive wanted to say! In fact I’ve pulled posts down! However for this new year, I want to finally take my journey in a new direction. I am old enough FINALLY to understand who I am and what I want. I am the first to admit there is always going to be room for growth, but at least I am owning who I am.

Who am I? Well, thats a long complicated story, and something that for most people usually starts with a name. My mum died when I was very young, and we (my sister and I) lived with her when she passed. She had divorced my father. She was actually engaged to someone else. Getting ready to have a new name herself. I was born with a very simple and plain, in MY opinion, name. My name was Debbie Smith. A Basic name if ever there was a name! I apologize to ALL of the Debbie Smith’s that are in the world! Im sure you are all lovely and beautiful and unique, but for me, the plain-ness of my name went further. I wasn’t the cutest child. I didn’t have the typical happy home. My dad actually changed his own name for personal reasons, and ours along with it. So I didn’t get to really connect with Smith, or the “new” name. When I married my ex husband, I naturally took his name. Again, it wasn’t really MY name but I WAS married. When that marriage ended after 13 years, I though diligently about what to do. I had daughters, and one day they too would marry and their name would be different. The name my dad changed it to legally wasn’t mine (found this out doing background checks for a US visa!) so who was I going to be? On my birth certificate the Debbie and the Smith were completed with my middle name, and my mother’s maiden name. I looked at her name. I could be connected to her still. Laughlan. I liked it.  So, I officially and with all of the paperwork with one small adjustment. I changed the spelling to Laughlin. With an “I”. For ME. It was MINE.  I started my new single mother life, and indeed my business, under my new name. When I married my new husband,  and this sweet man learned all about me, he completely understood why I wanted to hold on to this new me. Why I hyphenated my name, in order to show respect for my marriage. To make life a lot simpler for the dreams I want to do, I am keeping the Debbie Laughlin business, and on social media, dropping the hyphen. Its long, its hard to look up, and I want to be accessible. if the unimaginable happens and I get to write my book (my dream!), that too will be under Debbie Laughlin. My wedding ring, my certificate of marriage, all of our personal bills and household ALL contain my married name (and I LOVE LOVE love my husband and being his wife!), but going forth, all social media and search engines will say just the Laughlin. Im opening up about this because I lost myself before, in relationships. Now that Ive found me again, and more importantly, now that I am APPRECIATED just for being ME, I want to revel in that name too. This photo below is me, with my Dad, who is also a photographer. He is a writer, a poet, and very creative. I certainly get my love of these things from him. Just, now, only our names are different. 11908237_10153252578119132_1484945146_n