This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Tales from a worried mom

I was told recently that I make parenting look simple, especially for a single parent.

This person said my columns allude to having kids who don’t cause trouble and who know how to react and handle any situation.

My response was convulsive laughter mixed with snorting and eye rolling.

Her perception is so far from the truth of my daily life as a parent. Sure, the kids and I have our victories and sometimes good decisions and choices get made. But then there are days when we could be the poster family for birth control.

I’ll let you all in on my most recent struggles just so you can be assured I am far from having this parenting thing figured out.

And single parenting or not, these are issues that would challenge any parent or family.

A few months ago, I wrote about not condoning underage drinking. Well, that was written because I was facing it at the time. My writing reflects my life.

My daughter hadn’t yet turned 16 and was doing the classic sneak-out-and-drink-with-friends bit. And this was in addition to what she had already done, which was get drunk at a party.

Did her dad and I condone it? Of course not. We learned hard and fast that our children lie to us.

Fast forward a few months and the next shock to my perfectly choreographed life as a parent was learning my child is now vaping.

I didn’t even know what that was let alone how to handle it. So I did what any parent would’ve done in this situation — I tattled on her to her dad.

That was my way of handling it.

Once again, her dad and I have no idea what to do next. Lecturing and threats aren’t working and she is making a conscious effort to stop.

But, to complicate things, her brother has now joined the fun.

I’ve researched the dangers of this new phenomenon – because everyone seems to be vaping “juice” with no thoughts for how it may affect them later.

There aren’t a lot of horrific stories yet because it’s too new. No one knows what the effects of this habit will be in years to come.

So now, not only is my child an underage drinker, but she vapes and is going to be one of the “guinea pig” group for whatever may happen later with this stuff.

But wait, there’s more.

I was stunned – no actually, my world was turned upside down — when I learned my child smoked the occasional joint. Not a big deal, you say? Try being the parent finding out it's your kid doing all the stuff they’ve been preached at to not do.

Besides, I have no idea how occasional it actually is. It’s not like she’s sitting me down to discuss this most recent experimentation.

I totally freaked out over it. Lost a day at work and had a few sleepless nights. My baby is no longer that. The innocence of childhood and youth flew this coop long ago.

Now, I’m learning how to parent a kid who’s had more experimental moments than I have. And, quite frankly, I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s not like I’ve done this before.

I’ve looked into boarding school — and haven’t yet ruled it out. Her dad and I talk more now than when we were married about what to do and, for the record, he’s equally at a loss.

I’ve grounded her, cut off fun stuff like sleepovers and parties, don’t allow her to go out past 8, etc. But I'm learning that can also work against me.

What I don’t want to happen as a result of these revelations, is to make anyone think my children are problem kids or that they’re incapable of functioning in society.

My daughter not only has a job she’s excelling at, but she also pulls off good grades and has a strong awareness of social injustices and a desire to make the world a better place.

She’s just trying to figure out the world herself – and in this quest is going to make some poor decisions. But she’s still doing OK, even if I don’t always think so.

So, there you have it. My life as a parent, in a nutshell or, in this case, a column.

Even writing about this gives me heart palpitations and second thoughts about telling all. I have to take my own advice; you can’t control people’s actions, just your reactions.

Sometimes I choose to overreact to my kids’ actions and other times, I choose not to know. As in the whole ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ way of thinking.

 Am I doing this right? Probably not. But also, maybe, probably. You have to do what works for you and yours.

Thanks for reading.


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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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