Mother’s Day is my favorite holiday. My kids are my favorite people and “Momma” is the title I wear most proudly.
It’s been a great run – knock on wood.
I don’t feel like I’ve been a great mom, at least not all the time. For example, when my daughter was small, we moved from place to place as a result of my crazy first marriage. That’s not the stuff of great motherhood, but she’ll tell you her childhood was darn-near idyllic.
So, how do I think the kids turned out? They’re polite, fun, strong, cute as bugs’ ears (which has nothing to do with anything except that I think they are cute as bugs’ ears), responsible, good citizens, and as healthy as genetics and years of soccer have allowed. I thank my lucky stars that they aren’t criminals or into drugs. But they aren’t perfect, either.
I admit that ours is a special little family. I am extremely close to my kids. They are extremely close to each other.
I never suffered through the usual teen angst with either kid; although I had believed it to be an inevitable part of parenthood. In fact, my daughter and I, a few years back, were listening to a parent complain about her rotten teenager. I pretended that I knew exactly about what the parent was talking. When we were out of earshot of the disgruntled mother, my daughter verbally leveled me for the pretense. I never made the same mistake again, even if the lack of collusion makes me feel like I’m behaving smugly.
Why are we all so close? Why has that not wavered during the challenging stages of their lives, or for that matter, my life? Why have I chosen to purchase a home with my child? Even nuttier, what child would EVER choose to live with her mother for the rest of her life?
When I became a parent, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be my kids’ friend. It seemed like the natural thing to do. I think I got it from my own wonderful mother.
Ask the authorities; ask other parents. You cannot be a friend to your children.
From the moment Stephanie was born, I babbled at her like a buddy. And when Nick came along, it was the same. We’ve always talked about everything. If life was happening, we were talking about it.
I don’t recall having “The Talk” with either of my kids. It was unnecessary; it was all chatted out incrementally, paralleling the emerging experiences of their lives.
I do remember having conversations with both of them when they were around 14. It was something to the effect of, “I taught you a bunch of stuff. Now you’re old enough to crawl out your window and go do what you want. Before you do something that might be stupid, please consider what I might think about it, and why.”
Did either of them ever do sneaky things? Oh, I promise they did! I still get interesting factoids from their high school days! But their escapades never caused too much mayhem.
They didn’t have a curfew, something that a lot of people have a tough time swallowing. Our unspoken policies were mostly based on mutual respect and concern that we might cause each other to worry.
Once, when Nick was around 17; he headed to a buddy’s house to watch a movie. When early morning found him not at home on a weeknight with no phone calls, Momma lost sleep. And Nick heard about it. No groundings – another thing that never occurred to me to impose. Just a stern chewing-out that he would have had every right to give me if I hadn’t come home all night.
I’ve always thought that the teen angst phenomenon has something to do with parents pretending that they are infallible.
A kid is agreeable to what an authority figure says, but only until a certain age.
I didn’t have to go to lengths to hide or explain my imperfections to my kids when they became teenagers. They weren’t dismayed when their reasoning skills allowed them to understand that their mother was sometimes a goober. They knew I was a goober all along.
We played together. I was lucky because my passion, soccer, became their passion. I coached them, which made me a constant in their extracurricular lives. And they were my biggest fans, too.
I didn’t read a parenting book. I don’t really know if being a friend to one’s progeny is a true method that works, or if I am merely a very fortunate human being.
I do know that befriending my children probably wouldn’t have worked had I attempted it as a parenting plan much later in their lives than Year One. I don’t think it can be contrived
If I had to do life all over again, I suppose there are different routes that would’ve made my life simpler or more comfortable.
But I never question the route I took with my kids. I have two fabulous friends on whom I now lean as often as they lean on me.
I’d take that route, again and again.