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!
|Lori Curley, champion mother of two middle-school teenagers, resides in South Orange, NJ. She holds a Masters in Education and has been teaching writing at the college level for 7 years. But can she find a job as a high school English teacher? Or will she pull her hair out first?|