Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm the Only One!

While speaking to my mother the other day about the trials and travails of surviving as a single mother of two teenage girls, she called me something she never had before.

"You're Tigger!" she exclaimed.

There was a pause as I tried to get on her wave length.

"You're the Only One!" she continued.

It made me laugh and I instantly fell in love with the concept. I have remarked, on multiple occasions as of late, that this time is the most challenging I have experienced as a parent, and that the multitude of challenges all parents face seem to be more daunting when you are the one who bears the full brunt of everything.

I may be wrong. The added stress/blessing of a marriage could color things much differently--or not; however, as this is my only perspective, I cling to the belief that I am struggling disproportionately due to my single-ness.

The constant doubts and guilt that are your parting gift when the nurse wheels you out of the hospital doors after giving birth ( a measly 24 hours total allowed by insurance back in the day when I had my babies) feel magnified to Hubble Telescope proportions when the major conversations you have about your decisions, worries, and fears occur among voices that preside mostly within your own mind.

This is the worst news of all: the teen years don't just suck when you are going through them yourself--they also suck when you are dragged back into the quicksand by your offspring. They NEVER end! You cannot escape them--and this time they come with all those gleefully spouted wishes by your own parents that someday you will "have a kid just like you!"

As far as motherly curses go, I was never too worried about that one.

I was wrong.

I was a good kid: good grades, good friends, active in church and many school activities. I followed the rules, respected what my parents wished, and was terrified of getting into trouble most of the time. However, the way of the teenager is to rebel. It is to rage. It is to push. And I was a pusher. I used my verbal acumen to engage my mother in a nasty battle for most of my teenage life. I was merciless in my pursuit for her acknowledgement that I knew better than her what was best for me.

I can't even type this right now without shaking my head and laughing. It's my turn--and my mother got her wish: I have two kids who are just like me in so many ways. They are like me in good ways--they make (mostly) good choices about friends, they don't party, they don't really hide themselves from me. They are also like me in many other ways--they are pretty damn smart, they will engage in lively debate and heated argument for what they believe in, they are fiercely committed to being who they are and making sure that it is different from most.

When I am confronted with their natural teenager-ness on a daily basis, I often do stupid things. I say stupid things. I overreact. I underreact. And I think every decision is most likely the wrong one and/or the one that they really will write down to tell their therapist later (a bit of "advice" I have been offering them since before they were old enough to understand.) In this vulnerable state of uncertainty I comfort myself with the belief that the reason it is so hard is because I live in it by myself. And while I don't know if that belief is true, I am not ready to give up that excuse (no matter how flimsy it may be.)

But thanks to the new title (Tigger) bestowed upon me by my dear, sweet mother I feel a whole lot more bouncy and fun-loving about it. And I have a feeling that if I can connect to the inner-Tigger, my girls and I will all benefit. After all, the wonderful thing about Tiggers, is Tiggers are wonderful things...and the MOST WONDERFUL thing about Tiggers, is......I'm the Only One!!