I am getting close to 20 years into the mom gig. That’s child’s play compared to some gals, but I’m not exactly a beginner either, am I? I have been thinking about mom skills a lot lately; I’m trying to assess what I have learned from my years on the job so far. (Please, let me have learned at least one thing.)
Yesterday, Scott and I were talking about how our parental roles were quite clear when the kids were young. He says it boiled down to two things:
- Activity Director
Simple. We liked that. Sure, those roles required stamina. They were physically demanding, and often led to exhaustion, but what doesn’t feel better than a hard day’s work? Moms with young kids go to bed weary, and wake up the next day knowing they get to do it all again.
Eddie is our oldest; that poor boy. He has to be the first to teach us everything. Scott and I have noticed that at some time in the last year, he crossed over a line. Eddie is leading us into unfamiliar terrain, and Scott and I are trying to get our parental footing down.
One night after work last week, Eddie sat on the couch and talked with us about work, and what has been keeping him busy lately. Then, he played us a new song he’s learned on his guitar. I don’t think two people exist on this Earth who could provide Eddie with a more interested and engaged audience than Scott and me. That moment was my awakening. Listening and a bit of encouragement is all a son who’s almost a man really needs from his parents. I really got it in me to do so much more, but I can tell I shouldn’t.
I’m grateful that Zeke and Olivia are still wandering through familiar terrain. It’s clear these two are getting so much closer to crossing over that line to join their big brother. Once they cross over, the invisible line that has them tethered to us snaps. Then, we are all in a free fall.
Zeke had friends over last week, and they wanted to go to a water park. Zeke and a couple of the other boys do have a driver’s license, but they still have restrictions on how many passengers can ride with them. They needed Scott and me to drive them. Scott and I could not have been happier to be needed. We relished in the moment. When Scott and I mentioned to the kids that we were sad, because we knew we were just a year or two away from getting the axe, and not being included in their plans, Olivia told us she will never NOT want us to come to a water park with her. Thank you, Olivia. It’s nice to know some kids are actually loyal.
I don’t know why Olivia likes us, because we can be kind of mean. When we were at the water park, everyone split up into groups. Scott and I went on the Lazy River. On one trip around, we happened to see Olivia, her girlfriend, and a new friend that is a boy waiting in line on the bridge above us. The kids waved to us, and then Scott had the good idea to pretend that he and I were about to make out. The look of horror on Olivia’s face was magical. Her girlfriend was laughing pretty hard too. Scott and I enjoyed that moment, and congratulated ourselves for our quick thinking for at least the next four trips around the river. I think that when you’ve put in all the long hours of parenting, you get to take these moments to humiliate your teenagers, and really enjoy them. We should get something out of the deal, shouldn’t we?
I wasn’t so mean to Zeke. Zeke is 16 now. I know he needs his space. I told him before the boys came that I would stay out of the way. Privately, I also committed myself to being calm, quiet, and not even slightly embarrassing. I had to give myself this speech, because none of that happens for me without effort. I really would like to give myself some recognition here. I pulled off an Oscar winning performance. I thought I behaved like a serene and cool woman. Not one bit like myself.
I didn’t realize what an effort I was making until I was alone with Olivia and one of her best pals. We started joking around, and before you know it, I was doing the running man, and some other, equally awesome dance moves, and it just felt so good to be able to be me. I am thankful Olivia’s friends are silly and fun, and not opposed to crazy moms. I hope Zeke appreciates what I do for him.
I love being a Mom. I love it so much. I love thinking about it, and figuring out what I need to do better, and what is going right. I know the Mom role evolves in a lifetime, but I don’t think it ever ends. I was talking to two moms recently. One mom has a grown child going through a tragic time. The other has an almost grown child going through an emotionally challenging period of life. After talking to these two moms, I came to this conclusion: In many cases moms feel their children’s pain with greater intensity than the child who’s actually experiencing the difficulty. I know this is not true in all cases, and for every mom. But, for many moms it is truth.
You know the worst part about this? Moms have to suffer in silence. Most of us moms know that if we tell our kids how distressed we are over their burdens, it only makes the child’s burdens worse. Nope. Moms have to selflessly pretend to be full of courage and cheer, and tell our kiddos to pick themselves up, and march through that crap storm, because that’s good advice. And, pulling your grown child on your lap, and snuggling them while you both cry is not an option, sadly.
At least all of us moms can hug each other.
Here…I’ll leave you with this. Basically, the worst song ever made. Almost certain to leave my Mom friends a mess. I’m sorry. I know we’re friends, and I just shouldn’t.