Friday, March 07, 2008

What Kind of Mother?

Growing up, I rode in a lot of carpools with other people's moms. It made me wonder what kind of mother I wanted to be when I grew up. Of course, I wanted to be nice and funny, like my own mom, but I also knew that I would have to be my own person.

So, there was the mother who cussed a red streak, along with her junior high age son, and I thought, maybe I'll be the cussing mom.

Then there was the mom who made citizen's arrests when people turned left at no left turn intersections. Riding in the car with her was like being in a high stakes police chase. Maybe I would be mamacop.

One mother sang with her children in harmony on the way to the grocery store. I knew I couldn't be that mom, as much as I wanted to, because I have a terrible voice.

And I definitely didn't want to be the mom who flew off the handle at everyone in the car just when you least expected it. Although, I think we all take turns being that mom.

There was the mom who talked frankly with us about a mean girl we knew. "You know what her problem is?" she asked. "She's a bitch. And that's all there is to it." And after that, the girl's mean remarks didn't sting quite like they used to. Maybe I would be the mom who tells it like it is.

Then there was the high class mom. My friend's dad lived by the barter system, just as my dad did. Meaning that instead of paying him money, clients might give him something instead. So my friend acquired, through this client, a winter coat. It wasn't the style the other kids were wearing, and my friend wondered if it was a good coat or a dumb one.

Then a mom came up to her and said, "I love your coat." And my friend knew that she had the best coat in the class--maybe even the whole school. Maybe I wanted to be the mom whose opinion of your coat really counted for something.

I finally decided to be cool mom. Not to be confused with crazy mom, who thinks she's 16 and has cocktail parties for teenagers. But the kind of mom that kids really like to talk to.

But, come to find out, I'm bad cop mom. Being the chess club parent, I oversee a group of 35 kids that have just spent a full day sitting still and listening to their teacher. My task is to convince them to do that for two more hours. I'm constantly trying to get their attention to lecture them about good sportsmanship and what it means to really listen.

I'm the kind of mom that, as a kid, I would have made fun of ruthlessly at recess. The strict mom. The serious mom.

But this has taught me something. Maybe we don't get to choose what kind of mother we are at any given time. We have to be the kind of mom the situation calls for. For now, I'm strict mom. Maybe someday I'll be the mom that kids talk to. Or at least the one who knows a good coat when she sees one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you are a fun mom - I never took you kids to the nature center once, and maybe we went to the zoo once a yr, and we never went to Powell Gardens or the petting zoo or the milk farm. I was the lazy mom compared to you!!! And you are a patient, good listener mom! I wish I'd have been like you!!!!

5:59 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

If your kids don't say that they hate you at least once a day you're doing something wrong! They'll thank you in the end.

12:36 PM  

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