Dirty Old Tape

You all see a dirty door window. I haven’t cleaned it in god knows how long. I don’t care.

I have a thousand more things sitting on a cliff, ready to teeter the edge before I even remotely worry about this door. I’m not worried about your judgment or what you think of my cleaning skills. I’m shite at it. It’s really okay. I’ve made my peace with it.

This is the view from my blow up hot tub, that I ironically spent the last half hour cleaning. It was a Covid purchase and one I appreciate immensely when my bones ache from my rheumatoid arthritis.

I love this view of this dirty door. It has hand prints of my kids, nose prints from my dogs. It’s an old door who’s seen a lot. It’s lived a life. My life. And today it broke my heart a little.

I have three teenagers. They are all beautiful and wonderfully made. They are smart and kind. They are brilliant minds and keen observers. Sometimes they are too loud and leave a trail of Doritos, but they are mine. We’ve raised them well I think, and while I’ve made mistakes along the way, this door reminds me of my days as a good parent.

That thing on the door is tape. Old tape. It’s approximately 5 years and one months-ish old. My youngest was turning 9 and he wanted to have a Pokémon party outside in the back yard. This tape held up a pin the tail on the Pokémon poster I made for it. We had Pokémon decorations, goodie bags and games, and I even used pictures of all the kids to make their own Pokémon card. I made Poke-ball cupcakes. Me. The person who burns boiled eggs. I did well. I showed up. We had so much fun.

Yesterday I was confronted with a now depressed 14 year old boy. He can’t focus in school, is tired all the time. He’s growing at an alarming rate. He’s gone through 2 sizes of pants since the summer. His brown eyes were struggling to tell me what was wrong, because he simply did not know. So I held him a while, tried to convey that pubescent life can be a bit of a rough part of growing up. Stuck between a boy and a man, it’s hard to know who to be. I didn’t solve his problems yesterday and didn’t expect I would, but I at least tried to share in his sorrow for the kid he’s leaving behind. After all, he’s not the only one sad about it.

He went to school today grumpy and tired, but he made it though the day. We learned a little about resilience and a little about what mental health issues are like. I went to work troubled, sending him emails and texts, checking in on his fragile teenage hormones, making sure he was drinking enough water and taking breaks. I came home from work, and he seemed better, the weight of his day off of him now. This will be an up and down battle, much like it was with my 16 year olds, but we will get by like we always do.

Being a parent to teens is no less easier or harder than being ones of busy toddlers. It’s just…different. Making sure all was well while he played video games with his friends, I ate dinner and came in for my nightly soak. I didn’t get one last night because I had to shock the water, so my bones were very much looking forward to a dip. Sitting back I was enthralled by the full moon, noting that it makes sense why everyone has been feeling down. Full moon, dark early hours, getting colder; all solid signs of seasonal depression. I’m feeling it. We all are.

The full moon touched the end of the tape tonight on that dirty door, as I lay back on the edge of the hot tub. I feel like the moon was giving me a gentle reminder of why we do this. Why we wake up everyday with a renewed sense of purpose. Why we need breaks. Why it’s okay to cry over things lost. I’m not sure if my kid will understand puberty until it’s over like I did, and I don’t know if I will ever get passed the fact that parenting is both a blessing and a tragic motion picture set in slow motion. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered making 30 Pikachu bags the night before his party, painstakingly drawing Pikachu faces on dollar store yellow bags with a sharpie. I remembered how my hands ached at using the piping bag on the cupcakes. I made all 50 of them though. I took breaks. I cursed a little. I blew up 50 or so balloons and I gathered the strength or entertain 20 something 9 year olds on a cool crisp fall day. And it was great.

My tears are real. My feelings are valid. While my pain is different than his, it’s generally about the same thing. Dirty old tape on a dirty old door.

Today I’m thankful I’m shit at cleaning doors. Today was a good day to remind myself that things will change, and it will hurt. My heart misses those days but last night was just as precious. Holding him as I asked him what was wrong, hearing “I don’t know” over and over almost broke me. Almost. I rejoice in the fact that I can still be the mom that stays up all night with aching hands making cupcakes. Instead of making cupcakes, I held his frustrated body while he sobbed for reasons unbeknownst to himself. I can’t fix it maybe, but I can be there when it’s just too much to bear alone. The point is, every day is relevant, no matter what the age. That tape will remain there until it’s time to replace that old door. Until then.


Published by Mandy Greenfield

Writer. Studio Artist. Lover of animals. Sarcastic mama. Hiker. Visual thinker. Kilts and coffee. Funny person. Having fun doing anything inappropriate. Likes medium roller coasters.

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