Parenting did not come naturally to me. In fact, I knew at a young age that having children was not part of my life plan. I was not cut out to be a mother. In fact, being an aunt, a godmother, even being a friend to a child scared me to celibacy.
But thank goodness, about the time I got out of college the birth control pill was riding a wave of freedom for women. So, I could stay away from kids, but not from men.
After reading “Sex and the Single Girl” that I received as a college graduation present, being single seemed like a good thing to me, especially if I didn’t want children.
But life is full of surprises, and the day before I turned 30 I married a man with 4 children, ranging in ages from 12 to 17. In other words: Teenagers!
In my youthful ignorance, I foolishly thought that these young people were grown, and could be treated as rational adults. Oh, how dumb could one woman be?
But the kids had some surprises to adjust to also. They expected me to cook. Can you believe that? They really thought that this woman who had lived alone, and subsisted on wieners and cottage cheese could provide adequate nourishment for their growing bodies!
We all stared at one another in total shock and disbelief, trying to figure out how to live together in a bonding and pleasant way.
They learned to eat a lot of Hamburger Helpers (I learned quickly how to brown hamburger meat), and I learned not to tell a 14-year-old that if he didn’t want to pick up his room he didn’t have to. I thought he was old enough and wise enough to do that without constant haranguing. Imagine my surprise to find out 14-year-old boys don’t think in a ‘wise’ way. Apparently, neither do 30-year-old women.
My main learning curve came as they each began to drive. Providing cars was just a small issue. The big obstacle was how to handle car wrecks. It seemed to be easier to reach me than their father, so I would get the phone calls, letting me know that either the car or the child or both had received bodily damage.
Of course, I would panic, visualizing maiming and mayhem, and trying to stay calm as adrenalin erupted from these hormonal riddled kids. I would be a nervous wreck following each phone call, so I devised a plan to help me cope.
I called a meeting with the four of them and laid out my strategy: Each child could have 3 wrecks without me going over the edge every time the phone rang. That would be a total of 12 incidents. That seemed fair and reasonable.
But my scheme fell apart when the oldest driver had all 12 wrecks! I had to go back to the drawing board to figure out another way to save my sanity.
Surprisingly, we all survived this step-parenting adventure, hopefully without leaving too many emotional scars to mar their future.
I’d like to think I grew through this endeavor. Well, I did. I grew much older!