Well, it's official, I win the world's worst mother of the year award.
Step aside, Dina Lohan and Kris Kardashian.
They've successfully raised train wrecks.
I have now successfully ensured years worth of therapy for my daughter. I can see it now, her curled in a fetal ball on the shrink couch during every session, whispering, "It all started with my mother."
Tanning Mom tans her daughter. I emotionally scar my girl.
Honey Boo Boo's mom feeds her redneck pint-sized beauty queen, Go-Go juice in the hopes that Honey Boo Boo's crack-fueled performances will make her hollah for a dollar.
I fuel my daughter on neglect, my dismal failure as a mother and the hope that what doesn't kill her, will make her effing stronger.
My Julia is this glorious creature with a crown of Renaissance curls.
Sweet and gentle, the sassiness that ensnares 14-year-old girl's souls, has bypassed her heart and for that I am grateful every single day.
Having survived the treacherous journey of raising two teenage girls before her, I was bracing for the squall that would eventually hit our household for the third go-round.
Her sisters were these angelic bundles of spun-sugar sweetness, all golden haired pig-tails, pink tutus and cartwheels on the lawn. They loved their sisters, their mommy and daddy and their Barbies, not necessarily in that order.
And then came the day when everything changed.
I will never forget it. I asked my eldest, who was about 12 at the time, to put the gallon of orange juice, back in the fridge. And in a flash of a second, a voice that did not belong to my delicate flower of a girl came out of her, a voice that was more suited to a green-vomit-spewing entity.
My little blonde entity had a stream of consciousness to her satanic verses that went like this:
Hormone-induced free-for-alls became the bone weary stuff of my days from that moment on and not too long after, her sister joined in, doubling the the hormonal pleasure and fun.
No one tells you about any of this when they place that little pink bundle in your arms. No one even hints about it until the first time that wall of estrogen hits you like a PMS tsunami.
Only then, do the other shell-shocked parents of teenage girls come clean, doling out sage bits of advice with dead eyes, like—When it gets really bad, I've got a hiding place in the closet behind the pants.
And—I've thought about duct tape, but her shrieks would more than likely melt the plastic.
And of course— Alcohol is the only way through to the other side.
It's like surviving a Bieber concert, you don't truly understand the horror until you've experienced it for yourself.
It is why I am grateful every day for this third lovely girl of mine whose head does not spin and whose gentle spirit does not make me want to run screaming from my house.
Julia dove into high school, ready to try on everything.
She became a part of the Student Council. She signed up for Archery Club. She joined FFA—Formerly known as Future Farmers of America, FFA is not your Mama's FFA. It is now a worldwide organization, training the future chemists, global environmentalists, veterinarians and other fields of the future. Julia is planning on a career in the wine industry, winemaking to be exact. (I swear, I did NOT influence her except to teach her the finer points of wine from the moment she could swirl her apple juice in a wine glass.) And her school just happens to have one of the best FFA programs in the state.
Last week, she helped shear the sheep. She now wants a few sheep. As in pets. As in, sheep on our lawn. The only way I would give in to sheep is if I could be guaranteed the sheep would eat the ducks.
Suffice to say, she is a girl of diverse interests.
A few weeks into the school year, my Julia Girl announced she was trying out for soccer.
When she made the team, we were thrilled. Soccer in Florida is a highly competitive sport where Select, Club and Travel leagues abound. Played year round, people are SERIOUS about soccer in Florida.
Some, more than others.
And since I'm no Eminem and I don't need no contr-o-vers-y, I'll just say my position on soccer and other organized activities is a whole lotta lotta different than most parents. Everyone makes the best choices for their own child and in our house, we choose to spend the bulk of our free time as a family doing things together.
And because of that, we have chosen rec soccer as the best fit for our children. This means no highly specialized training with super-trainers, no trekking across the state and country every weekend for soccer tournaments, no devoting our every waking moment to soccer.
Hell, I've got three kids. If I amped up the activity level with each one of them, I'd have no Me Time.
And Mama likes long, hot bubble baths, preferably with some wine on the side.
This choosing to stay at a rec level makes us an anomaly in the soccer community. I have been asked far too often by other soccer parents, "Don't you want to advance her skill level?" "Don't you want her to stay competitive with the other players?"
I just smile and tell them we're fine playing recreational soccer as they dubiously raise their eyebrows, judging me with their silent eyebrow language as an unfit soccer mom
And that's okay. I might not have big enough shoulders to carry their derision, but my ample upper arms make up for it.
Although, what I've always wanted to say to those well-meaning parents and their arched eyebrows is, "I refused to drink the Kool-Aid. Besides, I'm more of a champagne fan, myself. You should try it, sometime. The bubbles are marvelously ticklish."
If my lovely girl wanted to advance her skill level by eating, breathing and sleeping soccer, than by golly, this Mama would take a few less bubble baths and chug the Kool-aid.
But my Julia would chafe at that frenzied level. She needs time to play with her ducks and dogs, to shoot her bow and arrows,
To learn new tricks on her skateboard,
To fish and catch minnows in the shallow waters of the lake,
Boogie board at the beach, stalk One Direction on the Internet and in concert,
Yes, my girl made the front page of the Tribune the day after the concert.
Hang out at the Un-Magical Kingdom
And, of course, watch North Korean documentaries with me—you know the usual mother/daughter kind of bonding.
In short, Julia needs time to be Julia.
Going into tryouts, Julia knew the majority of other girls would be club girls with club level skills. But she and that intrepid heart of hers gave it her all and her fierce rec skills won her a place on the team.
On the way to her first game, I was taken aback when she turned snippy and started lashing out at all of us. She berated her sister for coming to the game, telling Tori she didn't want her there. She growled at her father over insignificant things and pretty much verbally assaulted me with the strength of an AK 47.
I was all, "Girlfriend, you better straighten up before that phone of yours goes out the window."
Because there's one thing I've learned in this business of raising girls, if you want to traumatize a teenage girl for life, TAKE AWAY HER PHONE.
She settled down, but she was still a mite growly and snappish all the way to the game, so unlike her.
And that's when it hit me.
With a heavy heart, I realized our days of sweetness and light just might be coming to a close. Hurricane Estrogen Princess was, once again, bearing down upon us.
I gave her the stink-eye and said, "What's with you, Crazy-Girl?"
At my question, she sniffled, all rawness and nerves, on the edge of tears and said in a wobbly voice,
"I'm not going to play. I'm a freshman and I'm not Club. I know I won't play. I don't want you guys there because I'm not going to play."
I should have known.
This wasn't about sassiness and estrogen overload.
This was about playing her very first high school game. In a football stadium. With professional refs.
And stands full of fans cheering her on, not just parents but her own peers.
In her other soccer life, she played on busy Saturdays, with dozens of others teams stretched across one big community soccer field, the comforting anonymity of games being played all around her with teams on their own little allotted portion of grass. Parents and grandparents parked their lawn chairs right up against the soccer lines and the refs were all from the same lot of pimply-faced 15-year-olds. Everyone got a chance to play and if you messed up, it was okay. The fans on the sidelines, your teammates who were also your slumber party friends, and your coaches who were the parents of your teammates, would all still love you the same.
In short, the game had changed and she was scared to death.
I reassured her that we didn't care if she played, that we were there to support her and her team in this new world of big-time soccer.
As we dropped her off, she left the car still muttering about not playing.
Her team played like champs, having a sound lead by halftime. And just as Julia had predicted, she didn't play that whole first half.
And that was okay. Traditionally, freshmen don't get a lot of playing time. They have to earn it.
It was evident early in the second half, we were going to win the game.
I kept one eye on my sweet girl on the bench as I watched the game. There were no announcers and the girls looked like miniature dolls there on the stadium field, so I will admit, I had a slightly tough time keeping up with the game.
Oh, who am I kidding! I've always had a hard time keeping up with the game.
My girls have been playing soccer since they were little bits in oversized jerseys, which is a very long time.
And I still don't know the rules because that's how it goes with me and sports. It's all like one big foreign language to me. I just nod, pretend to understand and talk loudly in general terms.
I know I'm always safe to yell things, like, "GOOD KICK" "GREAT KICK!" "WAY TO KICK!" "LOVE YOUR CLEETS! THE COLOR JUST POPS!"
Here's really all I know about soccer:
*If your team kicks the ball into the goal, you get a point.
*The team with the most points wins, but no matter who wins, we parents make a bridge for both teams where we cheer wildly for them as they run through our clasped skyward hands.
*Bridges are none too popular past the age of 12 and if you dare to try and make a bridge after the age of 12, you will mortify your soccer player for life.
*And our concession stand fries are delicious, better than all the other soccer field fries combined. (It's in the spices.)
I don't know much else, especially when it comes to that annoying Offsides rule.
I've had it explained to me more than a few times, but it's like Geometry and pet ferrets, I just don't get it.
I diligently followed my daughter's game as best as I could, keeping my eye on her little form sitting on the bench. And as the game wound down, I relaxed a bit, chatting with the other parents and my hubs and catching up on a few texts and emails.
My Tori had found a friend, as she is wont to do wherever we go and she'd fled the parents' section to go sit with the non-mortifying people in her life.
It was an easy win for our team and after the game, I counseled my daughter and hubs, telling them to
be very sensitive about our Julia's lack of playtime.
You would think this sort of thing would need no counsel, that parents and siblings would instinctively be sensitive to this.
But that would be normal people, not my family of primates.
On the way out, we hugged her, telling her what a great game it had been and how proud we were of her for being a part of that team. She was unusually quiet. So, of course, being the compassionate mother I am, I gently said to her, "Honey, don't be sad about not playing. This is the way things go in high school sports. Your time will come."
And that's when my beautiful daughter saaaaid:
"But I played! The last 20 minutes I was on the field."
All three of us turned to her in disbelief and said in unison, "You were?"
None of us. Not a one out of three, spotted her. For twenty minutes of her very first high school game.
Yes, I am an asshole mother.
I know during that precious 20 minutes, my Hubs was busy discussing the finer merits of the Big Green Egg with another father. And when you get that man started on pork butts in the Egg, the end of the world could come to pass with fire and brimstone and people getting raptured and he would still be sitting there rhapsodizing about the fall-off-the-bone succulence of those pork butts to no one but the smoking holes around him.
The man is an Egghead. Among other things.
Tori was busy with her friends.
As for me? Well, there's no excuse, but I was, in fact, texting my eldest daughter. The college girl who is smart. On paper. You remember: this girl.And this same girl.
She'd sent me a text saying: I think I need to bring my cold medicine back to the store. I just got it and it's already expired. It says Expiration: 10/13 and today's 10/19!
Yes. She did.
I spent a good portion of that 20 minutes trying to explain to her that the 13 was the year, as in 2013.
At least, she's pretty.
By the time we got to the car, Julia was shrieking,
I felt lower than pond scum. In other words, lower than Kate Gosselin.
I mean, there was a father at the game who had had listed all the player's names and numbers, laminated them and handed them out to all the parents. All the while, he had his tripod set up and was filming the entire game.
What were we doing? Talking about pork butts and texting.
The good news is, Julia is my Julia. And along with her sweet spirit, she has a big, forgiving heart.
After a guilt stop at Dairy Queen and many apologies, she quickly brushed off the trauma. After all, as she so often reminds me, she is the third kid. She knows her place and her place is to make as little waves as possible. And she's cool with that. It's almost like her laid back spirit formed that way in the womb, knowing the chaotic estrogen-filled life she would enter.
Since then, she has played a few more games and I am proud to say, our eyes have not left the field.
I hope in the days to come, she will remember this trauma as the singular worst time I ruined her life.
And if that's the case, I'll be cool with that. I know in my daughters' eyes, my job is to ruin their lives.
My only hope is they don't write a tell-all book: MOMMY DEAREST—THE LIFE RUINER.
Because that would be bad.
Today's Definite Download: Okay, True Confession time. As a music junkie, I love discovering new bands and artists that haven't quite made it yet. I treasure those finds and I keep them close to my chest because once they're discovered by the mainstream and their songs are all over the radio or even worse, the soundtrack for the Swiffer Jet and/or car commercials, they lose their luster for me.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a band called Imagine Dragons. And like I often do, I turned my girls on to this fabulous indie group. My Julia loves them. I'm happy, (at least, for them), to say their music has recently popped up on the radio and in movie soundtracks. And even though they're in the danger zone of being overplayed, I still love their sound.
This is, "It's Time," a song you might have heard a time or two before. Although, this version, right here, is a stripped down, no-enhancements, acoustic version of their hit. I like it better.
Along with that, I have a truly undiscovered treasure to share. Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons is married to Aja Volkman the FIERCE lead singer of the indie band Nico Vega. The two of them formed a little experimental band called Egyptian. And I LOVE the sound of their two voices together.
This, song, right here is "Wait For You,"a song they wrote and sing together. Once this comes on my iPod I hit replay all the day long.
But "It's Time" is for my Julia—"I never want to let you down." And I promise, I'll try to never miss a moment of your life again.