You know the one – the Mom that gets scorned because her kids swear, have shaggy hair, wear inappropriate clothing and think for themselves.
Here’s the thing: I want to raise my kids, I am raising my kids, to be ready to spread their wings when the time is right. I don’t want to shelter them from the world, give them unrealistic rules that will leave them flailing when they’re out on their own or leave them to be surprised when situations that could have been addressed eventually arise.
When I overheard my son, then 12, cussing up a storm outside with some friends I called him in to talk about it. He looked so scared, he knew he’d been busted. But rather than yell at him or scold him for using the same words I know he’s heard both me and his father use, I talked to him. I told him I knew I’d be naive telling him not to swear; I remember my brother (and me, actually) when we were 12 – we’d say words to say them just because they made us “cool.” I also told him, however, that I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want to get calls from his friends’ parents because of it and I didn’t want to get called to the school.
Too lenient? Maybe. But one day a few years later I was driving him and one of his friends home from football practice and the friend started talking about what a bitch so-and-so was. Before he could finish or I could say anything, Justin turned to him and said, “Dude, you gotta stop. She WILL stop the car and make you walk home.”
I just smiled.
My kids and I talk about alcohol and drugs and sex and dating – in a way that they know they can come to me if they have questions. I’ve told them both I don’t want them drinking but more than that I don’t want them drinking and driving or with someone who has been drinking and driving. I’ve assured them that if they find themselves having had something to drink they can call me and I will come get them, no yelling involved, we’ll just talk the next morning.
We’ll talk … over a nice greasy breakfast of eggs and bacon and sausage and super greasy hashbrowns. And they’ll have to eat every bite.
I’m the mom who, when my daughter bought a pair of short shorts (not too short – I made her do the bend-over test so I couldn’t see cheek, or more) and then said someday she’d be able to buy some heels to go with them, told her that sure, that would be a good idea, and I’d drive her to the street corner to market her wares. (A young father walking with two young girls chuckled when he heard me say that, until I looked at his daughters, smiled and said, “You think it’s funny now. Just wait.”)
Don’t get me wrong – I’m also the mom who home-bakes treats for school, prefers homemade mashed potatoes to those in the box and believes a home-cooked meal does not mean adding hamburger to a box of noodles and sauce mix marketed by a talking glove.
I make it to as many of my kids’ events as possible, and am sure to let them know why I can’t make it when that’s the case.
My kids and I are friends. We get along, we go out to dinner, we spend time together. We tell jokes, watch inappropriately funny movies like “Hangover” and “Step Brothers” and compare music notes.
But they also know I’m The Mom. They know the rules and still respect them. They call to let me know when they’ve reached their destination, they haven’t ever broken curfew. They don’t steal, do drugs or disrespect their elders. I’m not naive – I know full well what they’re capable of and that they have misbehaved and gotten into trouble. I also know, though, that it could certainly be a lot worse.
So yeah – I’m that mom. You may not think much of it now, but you’ll thank me later.