`EVERYTHING IS JUST WIRE HANGERS AND LINDA BLAIR SPEWING PEA SOUP UP IN HERE, Y’ALL

Dexter: I just don’t want to do any damage.

Rita: You’re a parent. Parents do damage.

— Dexter, Hungry Man

I used to love to watch Dexter, for a couple of reasons, none of which were nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying Debra Morgan.

  1. I got a real kick out of a show whose (seemingly) most grounded, rational, calm, and reasonable character is the serial killer.
  2. I got a real kick out of watching a serial killer learn to adult, with kids and everything.
  3. Even though I knew he was not real, I felt reassured by Dexter not totally destroying Rita’s weirdo kids. Surely, if a soulless murderer can successfully parent, I should have no problem keeping mine breathing for the remainder of childhood.

It turns out I was wrong. I feel like we have near misses every, single day.

My daughter — who at four reminded me of Boo from Monster’s Inc. — at 14 more often conjures up a different daughter archetype.

This exact look. Yep.

Rest assured. I’m not laying all of the blame on my girl. I had my heart set on my mommyhood being on par with Helen Parr (see what I did there?)

For those who were like, Helen WHO??

but I ended up feeling closer to the Crawfords, most days:

EVER!!!

I screwed up today.

I planned the outcome of plans with a teenager and I lost. This is only the eleventy-billionth time it’s happened, but I’m thinking I should have maybe figured this shit out before today. But, NO.

I screw up lots of days. Sometimes I think I mess up more often than I get it right, and it brings me down. So I have a little mental short list of shit my daughter has said or done that gives me hope that I’m doing this thing at least a little bit not totally wrong.

Like that time I was walking to the bus stop with both kids, who were 11 and 7. My little man was tired and sore and started whining, “I just don’t understand why there is always PAINNNNN.!!!” My daughter replies, without missing a beat,

High Five, child!

About a year later, after Jeff the Narc completely crushed my hopes and dreams, I was spending a considerable amount of time in tears, or trying unsuccessfully to hold tears back. I tried to hide it from the kids, but I was not always successful. One night my daughter woke up in the bed next to me (we were staying with friends for some reason.) and I was just sobbing.
She got in bed with me, let me cry for a bit, and then said,

“Mom? It’s time. You have to stop missing who you remembered him to be and realize who he really is. And he really is not worth crying over. “

She was 12. And I think she kind of fixed me.

My ex took the kids to the movies a couple of Christmases ago, and upon seeing the motion picture adaptation of Into the Woods, my daughter’s immediate response was,

Meryl Streep is no Bernadette Peters.

Sorry, Streep. Not this time.

Indeed.

When I think about this stuff, I sometimes mentally high-five myself. Also, I sometimes physically fist-bump myself. So, just be ready for that. Because,

I kind of think we’re going to be okay, after all.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want it to be spelled right and punctuated correctly. I guess that’s something.

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