I have never been accused of being an overly nurturing, caretaker mom.
I’m not the mom that makes breakfast every morning or makes the kids’ beds every day or packs lunches. I certainly am not doing someone else’s laundry. The second my kids knew their colors and could get their own movies started on the VCR, they got a lesson on how to sort laundry and wash and dry their own clothes. Skyler was five the first time she did laundry. I’m pretty sure I earned worst mom of the year award that year from my son Brett, some of my friends or even my dismayed husband. The only one who seemed okay with it was Skyler. She liked doing her laundry, she felt like a big girl. Thirteen years later, she no longer loves doing laundry, but she does find doing dishes therapeutic, so I guess that’s good. With me as her mother, she’s going to need some therapy and it seems like doing dishes is a far cheaper route than traditional therapy sessions.
I’m not the mom who kept every art project or school project. Really? What is anyone going to do with those in 30 years? I would hang on to the ones that were ridiculously funny. Like the one where my son’s first grade class was doing an assignment on families and he wrote for “Mom’s Job” that I do my hair and nails all day long. He was close, as I am a hairdresser, but his version was so much funnier.
I have not kept every birthday card or Mother’s Day card in shoe boxes under my bed. Shoe boxes should hold shoes, not over priced pieces of paper that someone bought you out of obligation because to celebrate you without a card is now impossible. Thank you, Hallmark. I might have a couple of cards that I’ve hung on to, but in general, cards get <gasp> recycled. Sorry friends! Your words have been imprinted on my heart.
I’m not the mom who thinks that everything my kids do is amazing. I don’t think they are perfect, the smartest, the cutest, the nicest, the most talented. You won’t see my kids on American Idol, because I have assured them that singing really well is not a talent that they possess. My daughter would tell you that I ruined her career in art because I told her that the turtle she made in art class, actually looks more like an alligator. Hey, if they can’t handle honesty from me, how are they going to do out in the real world?
I am not the mom who sits and watches T-ball practice, baseball practice, soccer practice, but I already covered that one here. My kids regularly were threatened beatings and duct tape, to the point that when I would get mad, my son would roll his eyes and say, “I know, I know, you’re going to beat me.” One thing about threats: If you don’t occasionally follow through with your threats, your kids will not be scared of you. One of my favorite sayings is “Suck it up, Buttercup”, because I’ve always wanted to make sure that my kids can’t get toppled by the little things in life. There are plenty of those coming down the road and they need to develop coping skills. All of this is not to say that they are left to handle tough stuff alone. When real stuff happens, I turn ‘Mother Bear’ in less time than it takes to put my socks on.
Whether it’s a friend that has stolen something, or an adult bullying my kid, when the real stuff happens, you can’t hold me back. In fact, there is a woman that turns her cart around and heads the other direction in the grocery store when she sees me because I almost knocked her teeth out because of what she had done to my son. She probably questions my mental stability, and she is right to do so. I went ten kinds of crazy on her, but she was messing with my kid.
When my kids set their sites on a goal, I am right there encouraging them, helping them think through their action plans and uncovering ways that they can get there faster, easier or more effectively. Even if that means they end up in a third world country on the other side of the world, without me.
So, while my kids haven’t had the kind of mom that holds their hand at everything they do, or helicopters above them, doing everything for them, or smoothing every path that they decide they want to take, I think that most days, they feel fortunate to have me. When it counts, I am their biggest fan, most willing mentor and soft place to land when failure strikes.
I’ve got their back.