How we made it to 17

One half a score and seven years ago today, I brought forth on this planet a new infant conceived in….

…the usual way.

And today she’s 17.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who never thought we’d make it this far. I was always a big fan of the adage, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I tend to run away when things get difficult. Yup, I’m a quitter from way back. I quit jobs, I quit places, I quit people, I quit eating meat, I quit smoking, I even quit drinking all forms of alcohol once for almost a year. And then I thought, “Why did I do that?” and had a glass of wine.

So, when I first figured out that I was going to be raising a child by myself, you’d think my baser instincts would have kicked in and I would have left her on someone’s doorstep, wouldn’t you?

But no. I reckon birthing must seriously mess with your hormones and your head. How else can you explain what you’ll put up with?

  • You never get to sleep anymore because the kid cries every hour or so, 24 hours a day, wanting food or wanting out of a wet diaper or just wanting human contact.  You have to do, like, everything for them for years.
  • They can’t feed themselves for the longest time. (They don’t even come with teeth, for pete’s sake).
  • They poop wherever and whenever the poop feels like sliding out and you have to clean it up.
  • You can’t just send them off for a bath because they’ll drown without constant supervision.
  • They can’t dress themselves until they’re around 30. Even now I keep having to remind her that it’s almost winter and that she’ll probably be cold if she leaves the house in just a t-shirt.
  • You can’t go anywhere with them because they’re always wailing about something or shouting out embarrassing things or breaking stuff or doing something gross like sucking the snot out of their own noses or wetting themselves or throwing up for no apparent reason.
  • And you can’t go anywhere without them because they’ll burn the house down or fall on scissors or something. And also, it’s illegal.
  • Kids are bloody expensive, too. They need an entire new wardrobe at least twice a year, every year until they move out. That’s clothes, shoes, boots, coats – the works. Plus there are all those school supplies, extracurricular activities, lessons, musical instruments, skates, toys, electronics. And let’s not even discuss the cost of food. They never stop eating. Never.


I could go on and on, but I think you get the point – how the hell did we make it to XUP Jr.’s 17th birthday?

Well, nature makes the little humans really, really cute so they’re difficult to just give away or otherwise dispose of. Often they look a lot like you, which makes it even freakier. And, the very helplessness that sucks the life out of you, also makes it impossible for you not to care for them. I mean, you have to be pretty heartless to turn your back on a completely defenseless little critter that needs you for absolutely everything, right?

And then, as they get older, unlike pets, kids develop some self-sufficiency. They learn to tie their shoes and read and how to aim their poop for the toilet and even, eventually, how to wipe their bums properly so that you don’t have to do a separate load of laundry just for their skiddy underpants.

  • And then they get to the point where you can almost see a real person about to emerge. You can have actual intelligent conversations with them.
  • You can leave them on their own for days without worrying too much (as long as you call two or three times a day just to make sure they’re still in one piece).
  • If you close the door to their bedrooms, you can pretend that your house is occupied by normal, tidy adults.
  • And, the really fun thing is that they’ll do almost anything for money, so for a few bucks they’ll do all the chores you don’t feel like doing anymore.
  • And you find yourself liking them as people – people you’d want to spend time with even if you weren’t being forced to because of your parental obligations.

A really weird thing is that somewhere along the line you even find yourself liking yourself more and you realize it’s because of the kid. They seem to find your flaws and weaknesses and are somehow able to smooth them over or turn them into strengths. For instance:

  • By trying my patience remorselessly, XUP Jr. has actually made me a more patient person.
  • By demanding constant attention, she’s forced me to stop focusing so much on me and fretting about stupid self-absorbed stuff. 
  • By needing so damn much, she’s obliged me to stop farting around and buckle down and stick to a job and make a home.
  • By depending on me for everything, all the time, she’s given me a reason to get up every morning.
  • And just by being, she’s gifted me the incomparable feeling of absolute and unconditional love for another human.

Like every parent since time began, I know I messed up plenty over the years and wish I could have do-overs for more than a few things I’ve said and done. And I know she has a list of ways I’ve ruined her life which she will hold on to forever and torment me with when I’m hold and feeble. But, nevertheless, so far she’s turning into a lovely young woman. She’s happy, confident, smart, opinionated, outgoing, articulate, kind-hearted, funny, talented, interesting, engaging,has good values, etc., etc.

So, I guess overall, we’re doing okay.

Happy Birthday, darlin’

38 responses to “How we made it to 17

  1. Our first daughter will be 27 in a week and a half. I’ll refer her back to this entry then. Happy Birthday XUP Jr!!!!

  2. She’s happy, confident, smart, opinionated, outgoing, articulate, kind-hearted, funny, talented, interesting, engaging,has good values, etc., etc.

    Just like her mum eh? I that her at the bottom of the post? She’s gorgeous.

    I have a theory that goes that mammalian babies – of every species – are cute because they need their mothers to care for them. If they weren’t cute they’d all be abandoned.

  3. The poop and having to stop farting around would be the two biggest obstacles for me in the considering whether to have children. But sounds like it *might* be worth it.

  4. You forgot all about the worst part of this. Next year she’ll be able to vote, and everyone knows that the younguns are going to ruin the world once they take over.
    If of course there is any world left for them to ruin.

  5. Happy birthday XUP and XUP jr!

    I love this, I read it aloud to Papa Pan. I’ll have to read it aloud to Darkmirror in April on his 17th birthday because I don’t know if I can say it any better!

  6. What a great post, XUP. Great pics too.
    And, then, there are those of us who get to do it all over again, with the grandkids. Guess, it’s my second chance to get it right.

  7. Very nice post.

    Happy birthday, XUP Jr.

    Happy 17th anniversary of the day that changed your life forever to something you would never change, XUP.

  8. If you thing kids are great, and I do, just wait until the grandkids come along. They’re just as great, with the added advantage that they can be given back to their mothers!

    You know, for all the poop cleanup, etc.

    Happy Birthday to XUP jr. and congrats mom for doing a great job!

  9. Julie – Thanks!

    Grace – I have a feeling 27 will be here before I know it. And as much as I enjoy the child, I will be relieved when these important transitional years are successfully behind us!

    Jazz – I think that’s an excellent theory. It’s really their only survival thing. They can’t fight, they can’t flee and they can’t fend for themselves. All that’s left is having enough appeal so that others will take care of them. (And, yes, both photos are her)

    Dave – There’s still a certain amount of farting around you can do. And really some of the more extreme farting around gets kind of old at a certain point anyway. And don’t think of it as the end of farting around; think of it more as a haitus. You can go right back to it after a few years. The poop is no big deal and it makes for great dinner conversation stories. Thanks for the good wishes.

    Alison – Thanks. I have a feeling some of the really tough stuff is just beginning.

    Zoom – Awww, thanks. Damn kids do bring out the mushy in a person, don’t they?

    Dr. Monkey – It’s actually a serious drawback to motherhood. The instant that seed is planted you suddenly become an emotional powderkeg – weeping at Hallmark commercials, wanting to hug every puppy and kitten you see, feeling sorry for every hard luck person who tells you a sad story.

    Mary Lynn – Thanks ma’am

    Bandoras – I don’t care if she ruins the world, as long as she doesn’t ruin her life. I think the next few years are going to be make or break in that respect.

    Mudmama – Thank YOU! I’m sure the right words will come to you. You never have any problems expressing yourself in writing.

    Hannah – Ummm – do you remember being 17? Did you celebrate with your mom??? She had a weekend of activities already and her friends are throwing her a party this coming weekend. She and I went out on Saturday during the day and got her gift and had lunch and did a bit of shopping. We’re having a special dinner tonight. Other than that, the celebrating is with her BF and GFs

    Savanvleck – And you get a unique opportunity to do some gender and generational comparisons. I don’t envy you. I’m looking forward to grandkids (many, many years in the future), but I wouldn’t want to do this again full-time.

    Bob – Thanks Bob – very nicely put.

    Susan – Thanks. And yes, about the grandkids – like I said to Savanvleck – I’m looking forward to that in the distant future…being the wise and wonderful granny to whom the kiddies can escape when they want to get away from their awful harridian parents – ha ha.

    Meanie – She doesn’t read the blog, but I read this to her last night… and actually got all choked up toward the end..because I’m a big sappy mommy. She also approved the use of her photos.

    Lynn – Aw, thanks Lynn. I think she’s beautiful, too.

    CP – Thanks — not too far from your own little lady, eh?

  10. Love that first picture – you could run a caption competition on that one! Happy Birthday Mini-XUP – you have a cool mum, (even if she does have an irritating habit of winning at Word Twist)

  11. Congratulations to you both. I know for a fact I could not have written a post like this on the day my daughter turned 17. 25 maybe, but certainly not 17, so you are way ahead of me. Good job!

  12. awww, you big, sappy mommy!
    awesome (in the truest sense of the word) tribute to ‘the kid’.
    Happy Birthday to XUP Jr
    (and she does look so much like you, too)

  13. Jodes22 – Thank you and welcome to the blog!

    Loth – Oh please! You win 2 for every one that I win and I totally know you just mentioned Wordtwist so that I would point out that you win 2 for every one that I win. And I fell for your evil scheme… damn

    Cedar – Oh go on witcha! And aw shucks and stuff.

    Geewits – Well, we still have a ways to go, but I think things are going okay – knock wood

    Violetsky – Thanks ma’am. I really can get sappy over one or two topics.

  14. I’m 45 and ever had kids. Which could be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on one’s outlook.

    One thing I do know for sure is that I’ve NEVER had to clean a poopy bum in my life.

    Mommy and Daddy, that’s YOUR job.

    Uncles just don’t have to DO that stuff.

  15. Lovely post, XUP – and oh-so-true! That parent-child connection can be something amazing, can’t it, and very much more so when you’re a single mom with an only daughter (I can totally relate! 🙂 ). Happy, happy birthday, XUP Jr!

  16. Friar – Why are you all so afraid of the poopy bum? I presume you clean your own poopy bum every day or every other day or twice a day, depending on your metabolism…

    Nat – Thanks …

    Trashee – I think countries that censor my blog should be boycotted henceforth

    Pinklea – I knew you could! You’re kind of living a few years into my future – it’s always good to have that contact.

    Linda – I’m looking forward to grandkiddies..not too soon, of course – let her grow up and do some stuff before she becomes a mom.

  17. @XUP

    Cleaning my own poopy bum is bad enough. But I tolerate it, because of course, I haveta do it.

    But other people’s poop…that’s even WORSE. Especially if I don’t really haveta.

    Call it a phobia. I’m sure a fellow germaphobe like you can understand.

  18. Friar – There are some things that transcend phobias. There’s a lot of stuff you find yourself able to do that you never thought you could do when you HAVE to care for a baby or an aging or dying parent or a very sick partner. And I’m sure if you were in one of those situations, you’d man-up and do what had to be done and even find yourself doing it gladly. (How’s that for heavifying a poop topic?)

    Robin – Thank you my friend.

    OTC – Thank you so much. What’s up with you these days anyhow?

  19. Happy b’ddday mom and Junior.
    My mom always complained that on birthday’s all the attention is on the kid, and no one bothers about who went thru all the wailing and pain.

    And, really waiting 2 hear frm XUP junior as to how she survived the 17 years:-

  20. i love this post so much, how your love for her is in every word. you make so many great points about what it’s like to raise the kids, the positive changes (if we allow it) they bring about in us.

    i know i’m a MUCH better person b/c of my kids. and? i was a former quitter of things too but i could never quit my kids 🙂

    happy birthday xup jr, you are a beautiful girl and you look a LOT like your awesome mom!!!