I have no problem apologizing to my kids when I am in the wrong. But these times? I am so in the right.
1. Refusing to Let Them Play on My Phone
They can continue asking me every day, but I will not relent. I will not load games on it. I will not hand it over. My phone isn’t a toy, it’s a $600 piece of equipment that I communicate with and use for my job. I’m a grown-up with multiple social media accounts on there. I’m not going to risk them snooping around and seeing things that aren’t appropriate, accidentally blasting something regrettable to the Internet, or unknowingly order 12 new orthopedic mattresses from Amazon, not to mention the fact that I’ve witnessed them misplace the pants they had on their own physical bodies more than once. Do you know how hard it is to lose the pants you’re wearing? Yeah? If they can’t be trusted with their own pants, I’m not risking the well-being of my beloved phone in their moist little grips.
2. Being Myself, Even If They or Their Friends Think That’s Lame
They should be thrilled to have a mother who is not only comfortable in her own skin, but also wants them to just be happy to be themselves, as well. Therefore, I will not feel bad about my taste in music, clothes or conversation. I will not pretend I wish I were a dainty little clone of so many of the other moms in town. I will not turn down my music and stop dancing in the kitchen when a great song comes on. I will not skip telling them I love them before we part each morning at school drop-off just because a friend of theirs is nearby, and if they act like I am the most embarrassing thing ever for doing so, I have zero problems reminding them who they’re messing with by shouting at the top of my big, fat lungs, “I WUB YOU TOO, SHMOOPY BONGIORNO!!!” as they run for the cover of their schools. I taught them to accept everyone’s differences with open arms and a kind heart. That includes mine.
3. Letting Them Know When I Am Disappointed in Them
Most of the time, I am proud or entertained, sometimes I’m annoyed, but no matter what, I’m never unclear on how I feel about their actions. So when I am genuinely disappointed in them, why should I hide it? I am the one who knows their potential. I am the one who knows they know better. I am the one who can relentlessly love them through their mistakes. Therefore, I am also the one who will let them feel the awfulness that wells up inside when you have disappointed someone who believes in you. I protect them from a lot, but I will not protect them from experiencing that uncomfortable feeling. Until they know what it’s like, how will they understand the many checks and balances in relationships? That they are fallible? That it is now time to take all the lessons I laid out for them, and hold the reins? I do not like guilt trips or games—that’s not how I roll—but I see nothing wrong with letting them know when they absolutely had the chance to do better and see how it feels to make that type of decision, so it weighs their future actions.
4. Not Always Covering Their Asses
I’ve got their backs, always. ALWAYS. But if they leave their glasses on the dining room table, homework folders on the living room couch, band instruments in the bathroom, or library books Lord-knows-where, I’m not going to run it to school for them. They’re old enough to remember these things. Every morning, I run through the checklist of backpacks, lunch boxes, homework and so on before we pull out of the driveway. That is their chance to make sure they didn’t forget anything. If they don’t bother putting a little effort into being responsible, I will let them pay the price at school. Can’t get a new library book until you return the old one? Bummer, dude. Got a zero on your homework assignment that you actually did do, but left floating around the house somewhere? That’s gotta hurt. These are annoying but simple lessons they need to learn from in life: Be responsible or face the consequences. I’m not their personal assistant. I’m their mom.
5. Keepin’ It Real
I can’t stop the trophies-for-everythingness of the current world, but I can let the kids know that it feels better to actually earn a win by working hard than get handed one simply for showing up. I can’t stop the well-meaning people in the community who blow sunshine up my kids’ butts about how wonderful they are at everything they do, but I can make damn sure they don’t rest on those assurances and make sure they put in the effort to get better at what they’re doing every day. I can’t protect them from every single bump life throws their way, but I can let them know life is hard, bumps are normal, and it’s up to us to keep our chin up to try to find the good from all the hard stuff we make it through.