There is a delicate balancing act that I do every day, sometimes with great success and sometimes with MOM FAIL stamped across my forehead like a neon sign.
From the start, I had a feeling that Brian would be the disciplinarian and I’d be the laid back parent. Some times we switch roles, like when I’m paranoid and over-reacting about an issue with the kids at school, Brian takes it all in and calmly deals with the problem. I on the other hand, go into Mama Bear mode and that’s never pretty.
But for the most part, I’m the laid back one. I’m the go-ahead-and-tell-me-anything parent. I walk the dangerous line of friend and parent every day, and the older the kids get the more blurred the line has become.
Don’t get me wrong, I have rules but I liken myself to my junior year high school health teacher Mrs. Love; she had plans for every class period but all it took was one placed question or comment about life in general, her weekend or some other small matter and 50 minutes of class time was turned into current events, how her week went or what’s going on with all of us. In short, I too am easily derailed and just like all of Mrs. Love’s students, my kids know it too.
When I first became a mom, I thought… this is the kind of mom I want to be. I want to be the laid back one, the one that the kids can bring tough topics to and talk it out. I confess, I wanted to be like my dad. He was the one I could always talk to, tell anything to. Shoot, when I was pregnant with Bug, I was PETRIFIED to tell him. Brian and I weren’t married, I was at home, enrolling back in college and starting to get a plan together and then BAM! Hi baby!
The way I told my dad was like any other conversation. We happened to be getting ready to move a refrigerator (I don’t remember why, I just remember we were) and I was supposed to help move it. He called me from work to make sure we’d all be there when he got home so we could get the fridge moved.
The convo went something like this:
Dad: Hey, you and Brian will be home tonight right?
Me: Yeah dad but I can’t help you move the fridge. You and Brian are gonna have to do it.
Dad: And why not?
Me: Because I’m pregnant.
Dad: Oh. Well, then I guess you’re right; you can’t help move the fridge huh?
Dad: Ok then.
And that’s how life kind of rolled with my dad. I felt very at ease talking to him. Even thought I was scared to death to tell him I was gonna make him a grandfather. He somehow always made these things easy and that’s how I wanted it to be.
But somewhere I think I’ve blurred the lines with my own kids. I’m no longer the laid back parent. I feel more like the push over parent.
And that’s a tough line to cross, because once you’ve gone over it; it’s very, very difficult to go back.There’s no crossing it a little bit. Once you’re over it… You’re over it.
My own issues with this dangerous line was brought to a head in part by The College Parent blogger, LaTiere Galvan, in her post, To Be or Not to Be.
In some ways, I already knew I was like this but reading To Be or Not to Be was like being smacked with a frying pan upside my head. It was. A light bulb moment. I now see how my kids may be viewing my parenting persona. And it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Here all along I thought that my kids just plain didn’t listen. I figured, Oh no kid really listens to their parent right? Well, yes and no. All kids will tempt their boundaries with their parents; that’s normal. But reading Galvan’s own account of childhood:
Our open lines of communication lead to us not taking her role seriously and we began to disrespect her slowly but surely. Our sarcasm, quick tongues, roll of the eyes, cold shoulders, subliminal jokes and disregard for basic rules became habitual.
has me wondering if I’m not in dangerous waters in my own house. Certainly I want the kids to respect me, but I ache to think that I may have to turn off my openness with them in order to make it happen.
This will be an ongoing struggle, I’m sure. One that I’m going to explore further, for the sake of being a good mom to these heathens of mine, my sanity, and their futures.
And then there’s the littlest guy… Peanut’s only four… so I still have time to change, right?