I’m clearly not the mom I once was

Midlife Sentence - Mom of Teens

The other day I entered my son’s bedroom on some errand or another, and realized something important. It had to do with the olfactory impact of enclosing an adolescent and his Axe body spray in a small space with a fish tank and an only halfway clean lizard terrarium.

I realized my gag reflex has returned.

I’m not sure why this surprises me, but it does and I’m kind of sad. I used to have an iron stomach when it came to unpleasantness. But my once desensitized sniffer must have been part of a latent superpower that surfaces when I need it most; like back in the day when I’d decide whether a toddler needed a change by putting his diapered butt right up to my face. When this superpower is fully engaged, I can scrape dried poo off my shirtsleeve with the aplomb of a Ludlum CIA operative pitching a Molotov cocktail at a Russian mafia stronghold and then taking a slow-motion saunter toward the camera with a wink and a hair flip.

I have to tell you, that thought made me do a Google search for something like this:

Midlife Sentence - mom of teens
Photo by Film Frame – © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

But then I stumbled upon this … and it made my day.

(and, well, let’s be honest, it probably more accurately resembles me leaving the scene of an explosion). 


I am Ms. Iron Stomach no longer. These days, the mere thought of having to muck out someone else’s bathroom makes me woozy.

I have a theory: As our kids mature, we lose some skills to make room for others. As parents of teenagers we have to let go of unnecessary things – like the ability to keep from becoming nauseated when faced with a wall of stink so bad you wonder if it’ll melt your face off. It’s like the universe saying: sister, you’ve got bigger fish to fry, bigger things to worry about than, say, maintaining the ability to nonchalantly clean kid vomit out of my cleavage with a baby wipe.

There are other interesting differences between parenting teens versus parenting the Barney-the-Purple-Dinosaur set.

Take the fact that I’m now surrounded by people who know everything. It’s kind of amazing considering some of these are the same people who used to pepper me with questions. Why is the sky blue? Why won’t the dog wear pants? What was that word you just said? You know, the one you yelled at the guy who cut you off in traffic? Why shouldn’t I listen to words mommy says in traffic?

These same inquisitive folk have turned into experts in pretty much everything. I can’t offer two words of advice in this house without hearing the words “I know.”

They know what time they’re supposed to be home, and what will happen if they’re not. They know the math teacher won’t accept late work. It’s not even worth asking. They know the school dance will be stupid. They know the weather’s not going to get above freezing today, just like they know they’ll be fine in nothing more than a hoodie and sneakers.

Speaking of which, the fact that everyone around here is perfectly capable of dressing himself is pretty cool, but it doesn’t mean anyone’s actually going to do so appropriately. There seems to be a disconnect between understanding the effects of weather on the human body (cue the emphatic I know), while also remembering there is stuff one can wear to mitigate those effects. I can’t fathom why else we have adolescents arriving at school in single-digit weather in basketball shorts and sweatshirts. It’s really a thing, and not just with my kid. It’s one of many reasons you should never judge parents of teenagers.

I have to say my favorite difference between the way things are and they way they used to be is the sleep thing. I sleep like a dead person these days. For real. There was once a time when I’d come fully awake if someone across the house and up the stairs so much as hiccuped at three AM.

These days, the whole Trans-Siberian Orchestra could tune their instruments my living room, and I might not even roll over. It’s the weirdest thing, but I’ll take it. I think it has something to do with no longer fearing someone will randomly stop breathing in the night, or wander outside in the wee hours of a freezing February morning in his footie PJs to collect lady bugs.

It’s probably one of those latent superpower things, one of those gifts the universe sent to make up for the fact that my kid, despite copious instruction, still can’t manage to properly scrub his own toilet, and I apparently have lost the ability to do so without suffering through a sudden onset of the dry-heaves.

Life is full of trade offs.


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