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Why My Kids Call Me "Ditcher"

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Here's why.

kids doing housework

Lori Curley: I raised my kids to be independent people -- good for them, good for Mommy. Is that such a bad thing?

They sit at the kitchen table, heads down, bent over their toaster waffles. They are 12 and 13, fully capable of heating up a shelf-load of vitamin-fortified frozen breakfast meals, but they are in Guilt Trip mode, and they are pouring it on thicker than 100% pure maple syrup.

The boy sniffles. He has an allergy, but I mistake it for a real problem, which is exactly what he wants me to do. "Everyone okay?" I am not genuinely interested in their reply. I am ready to walk out the door. I have been up since 6:00 preparing for this merry exit: I walked and fed the dog, showered briefly, dressed, made sandwiches, packed chips in those baggies that don't stay open long enough to get five chips in, and now I am saying Good morning-Goodbye-Don't-forget-your-lunch in the same breath. This is when they pick up their cute little pouting faces and say "See you, Ditcher!"

I don't have time to hear about the weird dream or the funniest thing that happened a week ago in science. But, I worry that this me is the mom they will remember at my funeral. The mom who got up in the middle of the night to feed them is gone -- they only know this other woman who runs through the house barely listening. This mom who makes them empty the dishwasher, make their beds, read, and heat up waffles is "so mean."

But I have noticed also that when they explain to friends how terrible I am, there is a hint of pride in their complaint. They don't mind having friends know how independent and trusted they are. These kids can do anything a teenager from the 1700s can do except shoe a horse. They go to town for flour, they cross streets and avoid gun battles. They make me proud too.

I do not think the three of us could have reached this juncture with as much maturity and humor if I had ditched them in their younger years. I believe our relationship is rooted firmly in love -- an understanding that I would do anything for them, and did -- just not now!

next: Why Don't Kids Have to Buckle Up on the Bus?
18 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 29, 2009, 8:49 AM

“I don’t have time to hear about the weird dream or the funniest thing that happened a week ago in science.” Wow. That’s… pathetic. And that is exactly what they’ll remember about you.

Anonymous September 29, 2009, 10:16 AM

Do you like to be asked how your day has went? I bet your kids would like that to. If I would do anything at all you should take atleast 5 minutes when they get out of school to ask them how their day was. They could have something major going on in their lives that needs to be talked about.

Anonymous September 29, 2009, 10:30 AM

Your kids are going to be the kind of kids that turn into druggies and alcoholics and get pregnant at 15 because you don’t have time for them.

Kerry September 29, 2009, 10:40 AM

I am relieved that at least one parent that has the guts to make her children strong individuals. Believe me, if there was something major going on in their lives, these children have the strength to grab mom by the arm and let her know what it is. My daughter was raised to think for herself, and I couldn’t be more proud! She is an army wife raising two small children…BY HERSELF! I am proud of the way she takes it all in stride. And I taught her to be able to do so. Expecting an apology Anonymous? Not happening. Hang in there mom, you are doing the best you can…and THAT’S what they will remember.

Geo September 29, 2009, 11:40 AM

I love the negative comments from what I can only surmise as non-parents. My children have the same upbringing and they are far more prepared for the worlds pitfalls than some coddled little flower that has no self confidence….

Ken September 29, 2009, 11:54 AM

I sort of fail to see how these things are mutually exclusive. Being selfish makes kids independent? I don’t get it.

jennifer September 29, 2009, 11:55 AM

i think the spirit of this piece was lost- unfortunately because of some poor writing choices. it has potential to be an interesting essay, but the examples that were used are too easily misinterpreted- based on the above comments!

Ann September 29, 2009, 11:57 AM

It’s kind of disturbing that so many parents on here think that not listening to your kids and not spending time with them is a good thing. You can teach your kids to be independent by giving them chores. My mom taught me to cook, clean, do my laundry and many other things and she started to teach me this at a young age. But that does not mean that she didn’t take the time to listen to me or take care of me when i was sick. Making your kids independent should not be done at the expense of spending time with them. Yes, your kids are independent but when you die, they will only remember the woman who didn’t listen and who was always heading out the door. I hope they don’t abandon you when you are too old to take care of yourself…but then, they would have learned from the best.

Eric September 29, 2009, 12:00 PM

People hating on this woman: you are too narrow-minded. There is a great big world out there, and lots of good people who differ (gasp!) with YOU. Get over that, please?

Also, My sister-in-law did the opposite, and ended up with two skin grafts who are so dependent on her, they can’t socialize with anyone. They are terrified of a dog, a new thing, a car, everything.

Sonia September 29, 2009, 12:25 PM

Wow. That was awful to read and made me feel totally sorry for your kids. I catch your drift, but this just made you seem selfish and cold. Don’t try so hard to be “cool”, ok?

Anonymous September 29, 2009, 12:43 PM

there is a BIG differnce in teaching your kid to be independent and not being there. I’m not sorry for anything i’ve said. Just because your daughter is a single mother doesnt mean she can be a slacker. I was a single mother for 4 years.

Natalie September 29, 2009, 2:10 PM

That was my mom. She was always running out the door, not taking time to listen to me. You know what that bred? A very independent mother of almost 3 who resents her own mother and will not make those same mistakes. Yes, I had a LOT of independence at a very early age, I was trusted to do most things for myself, and if I asked for help it was looked upon as a burden. I was rarely sick because even if I was, my mother had to work, and I was home alone. I am a very strong person because of what my mother put me through, but that does not mean she did me a favor. I much rather would have had a mother who’d drive me to the mall when I was 12, and be concerned about my day rather than a mother who worked 6 days a week and had me take the bus if I wanted to go anywhere. You may THINK you’re helping your children, but you’re not.

Kelley September 29, 2009, 2:30 PM

Independence and self-sufficiency are one thing, but rejecting their attempts to communicate with you? Not good. Aren’t most parents begging for kids that age to tell them what’s going on, you shouldn’t be rejecting such a precious opportunity.

Anna September 29, 2009, 10:49 PM

I don’t see why making them do chores and learn to take care of themselves needs to go hand in hand with not being fully present with them when you’re all together. Even if you only have a few minutes together as a family each day, if you really take that time to connect and show them you’re interested in them as people, they’ll feel and appreciate that. However, I agree you should be proud of teaching them to take care of their own needs.

Anonymous September 30, 2009, 4:34 AM

I can’t quite figure out what this article is trying to say. The writer is proud that her kids are independent, which is great, but what does that have to do with not listening to them as a parent when they have a problem they need to discuss? As a parent, you never stop guiding and listening to your children even if they’re independent and responsible.

Jeremy September 30, 2009, 8:30 AM

Wow, REALLY PATHETIC. Work is MORE important than your children? As someone said above, I hope your children don’t treat YOU the same way when you’re too old to run out the door anymore. Actually, I DO!. You’d deserve it. You’re a terrible example of a mother. I feel sorry for your kids.

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Cherie Hobock December 2, 2010, 8:20 PM

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