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I'm the Meanest Mother

20150518 meanest momIf you don’t know this scene yet, you will. It goes something like this:

Teen Daughter: Can I get a ride home with <<insert her teen friend’s name>>?

Me: Who’s driving?

Daughter: She is.

Me: And who else will be in the car?

**

And that’s how I am assigned to the “Meanest Mother in the World” list.

One more teen in the car and she can’t get her ride.

Because, as my colleague says: “Any sentence that begins with the phrase ‘A car full of teenagers…’ never ends well.”

And he is right. And she knows it.

But I still made the infamous list. And frankly, I’m okay with that.

She is my daughter, stretching her wings and measuring the winds, ready to soar with so many test flights along the way.

**

She once toddled her way to the top of the stairs only to bounce to the bottom with sickening thunks that are permanently recorded in my audio file. Not a scratch. Not a dent. But permanent trauma to her Mama.

Just subtract ten years from my life.

As she discovered the world on our outings, she would trip on air – no kidding. Casts on arms and wrists often had me wondering how to invest in a bi-annual ER insurance plan.

Per broken bone, subtract another two years off of my life span.

When she learned to ride her bike, she did not wobble from lack of coordination; she veered from lack of concentration, her eyes gazing upward and side to side as she took in all the sights except for the one immediately in front of her. Somehow with me yelling, “First time biker behind you!”, she managed to narrowly miss dog, pedestrian, cycler, skateboarder, and driver.

Subtract three years off my life expectancy per bike ride
on those crowded roads to the Lake Michigan beach.

Honestly? I think she has a long life ahead of her while mine was shortened considerably not long after she was born.

Still, knowing her propensity for injury, I have always insisted she explore the world.

**

The key point for me is that there is a fine line between risk and stupidity. When research shows that the decision-making portions of the human brain are not fully developed until mid-20’s, I am left in the proverbial driver’s seat.

I am charged with helping her to make smart choices – sometimes through self-discovery, sometimes via long debates, and sometimes simply by asking her to respect my word as I play the ‘parent card’.

But, I well know (have learned) that my deck of cards is numbered and that this relationship works best if I earn, not demand, her respect.

**

By the time, my daughters reached their teens, although they would still always ask permission, their ability to do what they wanted – regardless of my wishes – had spiked considerably.

I well remember that first time when I realized that my “say so” didn’t have nearly the weight for a teen as it did for a child. And I realized how lucky I was that my girls didn’t (often) put me through the paces in ways that might have scared the hell out of me (and would have easily subtracted a decade off my life at a time).

My teens must push limits and I must hold them accountable by congratulating them for their well-considered decisions and counseling them (talking with – not to – them) about their occasional, shall we say, less-than-brilliant choices.

I know that those test flights are important and I expect to watch the skies above and sometimes silently and sometimes boastfully cheer them on.

As they get older, parenting becomes less hard-and-fast rules as it turns to increasingly more mature discussions, debates, and negotiations. Our roles are constantly being redefined ever so slightly.

Roots and wings.

Nurture them. And let them soar.

But, in the meantime… 1 teen driver means no more than 1 passenger.

And, eventually, a hug from my daughter.

She may not like it. But, she gets it.

Me? I’m hoping to appear on a new list … maybe “World's Best (Taxi) Mom”.

Last modified on Friday, 20 November 2015 19:04

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