One of my most favorite contradictions in my life just picked up a backpack when I asked him to clean up his cubby area and stared at me in disbelief when I told him he couldn’t just stuff everything in there. Why, always why, he demands. Can’t everything in life just be half-assed and bemoaned over later? (Lived that life, kiddo, don’t recommend it.) Fiiiine, fine, he’ll do it the right way. Except later, I will discover 3 books, a wallet, and two packs of gum shoved in the drawer in the bathroom.

My other favorite contradiction has her own cubby to clean when she comes over for the evening tomorrow. She’ll likely leave a trail of shoes and socks and backpack detritus in and around the entryway (a habit I had nearly cured her of until she stopped living with her dad & I full-time) but then charm me with an “oh yeah, I forgot” and her thankfully still innocent smile and do it all over again the next time she comes over. And she wonders why she can never find any socks.

It’s not even fair to call them contradictions really…well except for that fact that I’m pretty sure that’s the dictionary definition of teenager and, dammit, except for the fact that I am just barely 32 and raising teenagers. My uterus has sat dutifully, patiently, lovingly by (except for the occasional aching tug whenever someone announces they’re pregnant again, or posts pictures of their new baby’s totally eatable cheeks) while my husband and I have gone about the work of filling in the holes for the children from his first marriage.

I am wholly a mom these days, but I have never sat up in the middle of the night smelling my newborn baby’s head, I have never seen my toddler eagerly hold her arms up towards me, I have never wept in the car as I left my child at preschool for the first time. I can only tell you about parenting from about age 5 or 6 on up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m damn good at parenting (teenagers especially), but it will always be a little bit weird to be a childless mom. I will always be painfully aware of the gap.

And someday, when I am awake at 3am and nearing 40, I will wonder whygodwhy, didn’t I stop before I started? Because I will know exactly what is coming down the pike (pipe? Damn idioms.). Smart assedness, laziness, space cadetness. Oh, but sarcasm, hilarity, girls’ nights, goodheartedness underneath it all, too. There is some good there, even if I have to squint extra hard to see it sometimes.

So, to answer your implied question, teenaged son, we do things whole-assed around here because in and amongst the hard work, there is reward to be found. Not every day, not even close. I could just say I’m the stepmom, and that’s it, take the kids to Disneyland, fill them up with sugar, buy them $150 jeans, call it a day and leave the rest to my husband. But I don’t. I drive all over town, give up most of my lunch hours during the week, clap my loudest for the 10 minute part of the choir concert that was relevant to me, watch the most inane movies three times because they think it’s hilarious, get the blankets just right at bedtime, sign I Love You from the car at morning drop off just to rush to work and feel behind from the get go…and still plan to do it all over again someday.

Something tells me the work is worth it.


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