Monthly Archives: July 2015

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Chapter 6

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The term “helicopter mom” became part of the 21st century lexicon while my kids were still young. It is this generation’s term for the overprotective parent. I never considered myself a helicopter mom but in hindsight, I most likely was.

I couldn’t help but be an advocate for these small helpless children. It didn’t seem right to me to throw them into this cruel and unpredictable world without standing up for them and protecting them in any way that I could. If I saw an injustice anywhere, I stepped up. If I thought something was being handled incorrectly, I spoke up. After all, I felt, children needed a voice and I was all too willing to be one for my two.

So I asked the hard questions. Friend’s mom “Can your son come to my son’s birthday sleepover?” Me “Sure, but first can you tell me what kind of video games you have, what TV shows can they watch and are there any guns in the house?” I was usually met with a bit of stunned silence. What this parent failed to realize is that I would most likely be up that night in case my son called with a request to come home because of a disastrous sleepover! To be fair, I did get that call one night from my daughter who’s friend’s mother thought it a good idea to show the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to a group of 12 year olds on Halloween. However, I am certain their schools from kindergarten to 12th grade had my number. I was a prolific email writer to teachers, counselors, principals, coaches, club leaders and anyone else I felt the need to communicate with on their behalf. It became a bit of a joke for my kids to say “Mom’s writing an email!”

I don’t think I was excessive in this but that was my own perception. The receivers of those emails might have a different take. I just felt that I had to be the advocate for my own two children because no one else would.

Eventually both of my children went off to college and yet I still felt I had to be the one to stand up for them in any way I could. I recall a conversation with my son early in his college career. He wanted to discuss an issue and how best to handle it. We chatted strategies and correct terminology. At the end I asked if I should write an email and he said “No Mom, I can handle this myself”. Wait, what? Suddenly my role as great crusader for the rights of children was falling by the wayside.

In my early days of parenting, I read a quote that struck a bit of fear into my heart. The quote was “Be careful what you say, be careful what you do because a child is watching, a child is listening, a child is making up his mind”. After I read that I started to analyze all of my words and actions. What exactly was I teaching them? I had my answer after that conversation with my son on the brink of manhood. I had taught them that they have a voice. I am so proud to hear them speak out when they see an injustice or watch them advocate for another. When my daughter entered college and handled things herself with great confidence, I bemoaned the fact that perhaps I had been that overprotective mom after all. But what she told me was that all of my protective actions had made her feel safe.

Crosby, Stills & Nash wrote that classic song which urges parents to teach their children the lessons of life well. That same song urges children to teach their parents about life. Life is an education, there is no doubt about that. I still use my voice for them in any way I can. By these days, it’s more likely that I just listen.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Chapter 5

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Sibling rivalry has been a thing since the story of Cain and Abel. Our siblings are our first social group. They teach us survival skills and social skills. They teach us how to share and argue and stick up for one another. I have been blessed with my group of siblings and it was for that reason that I always wanted my children to have siblings.

It is not a guarantee that siblings will bond. They are after all individuals. It can be easy for a parent to admonish their children to get along or to play well together but that is not a given. My own children are four years apart and different genders. I could not be sure how their relationship would mesh but they have done very well together. I thought it was my job to referee them and make sure everyone was playing fairly and getting what they needed. However one day at the pediatrician’s office they both had a bit of a meltdown and got into it with each other. I had been speaking with the doctor, a very wise grandfatherly man, when this ensued and we both stopped talking as I watched this exchange escalate in horror and embarrassment. The doctor calmly watched for a minute and then he turned to me and said “You don’t get in the middle of that, do you?’ Seeing my hesitation and the look of doubt on my face, he put a hand on my arm and gently said “Don’t ever get in the middle of that!” Now I was confused. Wasn’t I supposed to pull them apart and admonish whomever had started this melee? Wasn’t I the mom?

Certainly had this happened in a public place, like the grocery store, I would have stepped in immediately. Children should be taught social norms and parents should be the first to model that behavior for them. But I did fail to appreciate the lessons they were teaching each other.

There are challenges with raising siblings. When a family crisis caused us to pay more attention to one at the expense of the other, it caused a lot of pain. I was accused of favoritism, an accusation I tried to justify and negate. But I had been more preoccupied with the one in crisis and nothing I could do could change that. I did try to make it up but I eventually realized that I needed to move forward rather then try to correct past actions. We do treat our children differently. They are different people, different personalities. Children are not cookie cutter beings. They don’t come with a manual.

In the end, I had to forgive myself for not being the mom that could be everything to both my children. If each felt as though the other was favored, I could do nothing to change that perception but continue to love them as best I could.

However, that crisis made me realize that the most beautiful sound in my life was the lull and cadence of their voices as they laughed or talked together. And yes even when they fought together. The operative word is “sibling” in sibling rivalry. It has nothing to do with me. I have my own siblings and when I think of the dynamic of our many years together, I see lots of ups and downs and hurts and miscommunications. But there is also so much love and respect and they are the first ones I go to in good times and bad.

The most gratifying knowledge is that my children love one another. I know they are there for each other and their bond is strong. It’s a relief not to have to be that referee. There is a lot of peace on the sidelines. And sometimes popcorn.