Friday, July 31, 2009
Bad Mothers and Mother Bears
Personally, I think of myself as a Mother Bear. I tried being the Kool-Aid mom, the perfect woman who can balance work and kids and marriage and husband and home and entertaining and, and, and, and....It didn't work for me. I found that by trying to be perfect, I was missing the best part of motherhood--just being a mom. Sometimes I know that I am too protective of my boys. I know that there have been times that I've embarassed my kids by teeing off on someone that wronged them. But I also know there have been those moments when even my 17 year old was proud. Take the following conversation two years ago (that is legendary among his friends) with his math teacher. Johnny, cue the lights!
(phone ringing on my desk)
Me: 19th Company, Chief Woods. Can I help you?
Caller: (background: "I told you all to sit down and shut the hell up!") Your son has totally disrupted my class and you need to do something about it.
Me: I'm sorry?
Caller: I said your son has completely ruined the learning environment of my classroom and you need to do something about it.
Me: Exactly, who is this?
Caller: This is Ms. Bitchy
Me: I have three sons, exactly which one are you calling about?
Now, before I go on let me give you some background. I knew right away which son she was talking about. I also knew who was calling from the caller ID on my phone. I can also tell you that I did not like this woman, she didn't like my son and the feeling was mutual. She was overbearing and came across as intimidating, even to me in our first parent's night at the school. So let's go on...
Me (in my best take charge drill instructor tone): You do understand that you're calling me at my place of work, yes?
Ms. B: Umm, yes.
Me: Let me explain something to you. If you are going to call me complaining about my son, I suggest you identify yourself. You do NOT call me at my work and start yelling at me. You don't call and yell at me anywhere, understood? You show some respect and some professionalism. If you have a problem with my son, he's in your classroom--handle it. If you can't seem to do that, you then call me in a calm, adult manner and we discuss it. Am I clear?
Ms. B: Ummm, yes.
Me: I'm going to ask again--AM I CLEAR ABOUT THIS?
Ms. B: Yes, ma'am. I'm sorry.
Me: That's better. Now let me talk to my son.
Problem resolved, never heard from the teacher again. What I didn't know at the time was she was calling me from the classroom and all the students could hear me tee off on her. I found this out later when teenagers abounded at my house and told me I was the coolest mom ever. Finally, coolness with the teens. Success at last.
Are my kids perfect? No. I look in awe at the parents with multiple kids and they never seem to have to raise their voice. The kids are the all-star, all-American kids. Straight A students that are lettermen and full-rides to Ivy League schools. Do my kids do things wrong? You bet they do. Usually because they get into group-think and don't think at the same time. Do I beat them? Nope. I used to PT the hell out of them. When they were three and five, their punishment was arm circles and push-ups. Which leads me to the Bad Mommy....
When my David was four or five, we lived in California and had a huge in-ground pool. Certain things obviously, were not allowed in the pool. Anything that could get into the filter for one, or toys that just did not belong in a pool. So one beautiful day, I had all the windows open in the house. Music going, cleaning like a maniac. David was out in the backyard, playing on the jungle gym when I heard a splash. I don't even remember what he threw in the pool now, but I retrieved it and told him not to do it again. Ten minutes later I heard that splash again. I go outside and call him into the patio. "Arm circles--begin!" I shout. Now, I usually made them PT one minute for every year. So, he would have done arm circles for four minutes. That is, if I wasn't ADHD. I went back in the house and went about my with my cleaning frenzy. TWENTY minutes later, I hear whimpering at the living room window. I look out and there's my son, his little arms about six inches from his legs, still doing arm circles with tears streaming down his face. I nearly died. How could I forget??? I went outside and said, "OK. You're done." He put his arms down and ran over to me. I picked him up and we snuggled on the couch for about 15 minutes. I never punished him out of my sight again. A few days later, I apologized for it and now, we laugh about it. Baaadddd mommy!
But you know what? My boys and I are tight. I'm not perfect, not in any way shape or form, but my older sons are as devoted to me as I am to them. They talk to me about anything. We stuck together when my life with their father fell apart. Even at 15 and 17, we still share food off each other's plates and cuddle together on the couch to watch old black and white or modern scary movies. We know each other inside and out. I read the news and just don't get how parents can do the horrendous things you see on a daily basis. I think it makes me even more protective of my kids.
I had that moment of being a Bad Mommy...But I was never a bad mother.