the coach master

We now have a middle schooler in the house this year. And because our county school district is full of a bunch of not so smart individuals who run the transit system plans (seriously, screw drivers have more purpose on this earth), her bus is supposed to pick her up first, then drive 30 minutes to get the farthest kids out of town, and then drive back past our house for school.  So of course, I drive her. It's actually nice, we get a few minutes alone and confirm the day's plan. Who is picking up whom, where are we going etc. Every day is a different gamut.

And every day, as I turn down the road to get me home I drive past one of our many trailer parks. I would consider this one a little more nice. It's tidy and small and there is a sense  of order to it. And the second trailer in along the road is the Coachmaster. I would say, circa 1970's. Why do I notice the coach master? Because it's gold trim is still shiny. After all these years, someone has taken a lot of pains to keep this beauty looking quite fine. There is also a sense of ord to the items around it. The chairs, the porch, etc. And as I pass the coach master I wonder, who lives there?

Are they snowbirds like everyone else? Or as we like to call them at church "Winter Sisters".  I always guess it's a single man in his 60's/70's. Is he from Idaho, Montana or Utah? I would say he isn't local because unfortunately the majority of local trailers are not kept up that nice and neat. It's a lot easier to keep something looking new if you only use it 3 months out of a year.

What does he cook in his trailer? Where does he like to visit? What are his favorite tv shows? Does he read? Have children? Visit family?  Does he have an ex-wife, or is he a widow? Does he have 4 ex-wives? A pension? Step-children, adopted children? Retired mine worker? Lawyer? These are the things that rotate around in my brain as I drive home.  And then I pass the other mom. I see her every morning, and I reflect on my parenting.

Lately I have been working on my parenting with my therapist. It has taken me two years to finally get to talking about this. I tell my therapist, I don't really know how to be a mom to a teenager. My parents were both 40 years older than me (most of the time double the age as the other parents) and not around very much. By the time I was entering the teenage years my mom was a school teacher at an at-risk inner city elementary school and getting her Masters degree at UNR. My dad always had two jobs, a dental practice here and there. During this time he was the head dentist at the prison. I don't remember seeing very much of either of them around this time, or remember them parenting. I really had a more free-for-all reign of my life (again, as far as I can remember). I could hang out with whomever, pretty much whenever. Luckily this is when I started dancing and that kept me more busy and out of trouble.

When I was a brand new parent I was 100% positive I knew exactly what I was doing in life, and as a mother (even though I didn't). Slowly over the years as disappointment, lack of sleep and reality filled the years I had a aggressively  malignant  fear that  someone, somehow would find out the truth,  that I have no idea what I'm doing as a PARENT. I think I can guess that this is a universal fear for most adults, but what I didn't know was that the first people to call you out on your parental failings would be your own children.

Most of my parenting to my oldest children has come from guilt and shame. This is when they are acting out and/or arguing with me, it used to be when they refused to wear the cute outfit, or have an accident in their cute undies, or dare to be fussy at church. When this happens I'm 99% positive I have created a monster and this is ALL my FAULT so I must FIX IT right away to show them how awful they are being and to not be awful but be amazing and fantastic instead. It is simple no?

This usually doesn't go well. UGH.

I constantly hover around them like flies at a summer picnic and everyone gets stressed out and starts lashing out.  Of course, this is with the older kids. With the younger kids I feel like I have these rose colored glasses on  and am enjoying every tooth falling out and every milestone and every cheesy art project brought home like it's a Davinci. Then I feel even more guilt and shame because I was completely out of it and in a dark, dark hole when the older kids were going through the same milestones so take said previous shame and add in MORE guilt and MORE shame because I just plain suck at motherhood.

But not now. Nope. Now my new mantra is NO SHAME.  No shame or guilt about my parenting. Take it completely out of the picture, its' not there. It is what it is and there is no going back. I'm doing the best I can. I was doing the best that I could (even though at times it was really, really atrocious) I always will make mistakes, but NO GUILT.

This is what I think when the small middle schooler climbs out the other mom's car. The door opens and the smoke billows out in waves. Every morning, smoking smoking smoking. And i think "NO SHAME". I'm doing the best I can, that mom is doing the best she can in her circumstances. Yes, I want to pull over and shake her silly with all of the information on second hand smoke and just use one ounce of self control to NOT smoke in the house or in the car but I can't.

I just watch. And think. And am sad for her kid. And sad for other kids. And sad for moms swimming in the guilt. They are doing the best that they can, even if it stinks.

Maybe there is a mom who lives in the Coachmaster, and maybe they had a few kids, and maybe she parented out of guilt and shame and so the years were filled with contention and darkness and they don't have a relationship with Sally or Bob and their grandkids in Milwaukee. I'll probably never know. But I do know that the gold trim is kept nice, and that's saying something. I don't know what, but definitely something. At least it's nice to drive by when it glimmers.

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