“I just want you to know, if you ever need anything, don’t be shy, OK? There are NO rules in the house. I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.” – Mrs. George (Amy Poehler from the movie Mean Girls).
I had four kids in six years. I know, what was I thinking? Clearly, I wasn’t. I just knew I wanted more than two and less than five and it had to be an even number, so four it was! I think I was a pretty good Mom with toddlers; my patience grew by leaps and bounds during that time. But then came the teen years. Where’s the manual for those years? Overnight you go from being the smartest woman on earth, to the bane of your child’s existence. So unfair. How about the stretch marks I took for them? The sleepless nights? The throw up on my black silk blouse as I passed one child to the babysitter? Where’s the love? Truth be told, if I had to do it over, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I love being a Mom, and even through the teen years, I knew the drama was simply part of parenting initiation and life wouldn’t be complete without it. During those demanding years I truly believed it was a test of sorts. The test being, if you can make it through the teen years without loss of self or sanity, and maintain a sense of humor, the rest of life is yours for the taking. I made it through relatively unscathed, but there were plenty of times when I wondered if I was being the best Mom. After all, there were plenty of times that my kids reminded me how cool so-and-so’s Mom was and I was not. In retrospect, I’m rather proud that I didn’t yield to teen pressure, but when I was in it, I didn’t feel that way.
Everything you read from a professional standpoint tells you to avoid being a friend to your kids and be a parent instead. Easy to say, hard to do. In my heart I always believed that when I said, “no” while other cool Moms were saying, “yes” there would be a positive payoff. When my kids couldn’t go to a boy/girl sleep over in junior high, they were devastated. I felt bad, but not bad enough to cave in.
It’s important to realize that our kids have pressures we never had to deal with, but the same holds true for parents. My folks never had to deal with “sexting,” Facebook, Internet porn, etc. Sure, there are steps you can take to minimize their exposure, but at the end of the day they’ll see more by the time they’re 18 then I did by the time I was 30.
As a parent, appreciate that rules and regulations are the best gift you can give your kids. It is part of the grown up world and it’s a wonderful way to prepare them. It’s also a way of loving your kids, which I found out once my kids entered adulthood. The worry of not being the cool Mom completely dissipated when my 24-year-old son told me how safe and loved he felt growing up, even though I was strict. Now that my kids are amazing adults, I can be their friend. I really don’t believe that would have happened had I opted for the cool-Mom persona, and minimized the importance of being a good parent versus a popular one.