My Mom sent me an email today that totally resonated with me (see below).
Last night Ari was complaining on the phone to my mom that because I was mean and wouldn’t change her bedtime she couldn’t stay up late enough to watch American Idol. This subject has been a source of ongoing turmoil because everyone else she knows has a later bedtime then her. This may well be true, but Ari is like me (I need my sleep) and is horribly grouchy and just plain can not function properly when she doesn’t get enough sleep. She came to me about a month ago with a note that said something like “sign here if you love me enough to change my bedtime to 9:00” with two signature lines, one for me and one for DH. After I finished laughing, I wrote my own note on the back stating that if she made it to bed on time for 6 weeks straight (getting to bed on time is also a problem so why bother changing her bedtime when she rarely makes it to bed by that time anyway) then maybe we would change her bedtime. Both DH and I signed the reverse side of the note, but that wasn’t good enough so that tabled the discussion for a while. That is until she wanted to watch American Idol last night and decided that yet again I was a mean mom.
Then this morning she again was complaining that all the other kids got to do stuff without their parents except for her. Trying to get to the root of the problem I asked her what kinds of things they were allowed to do without their parents. She listed off things like going to the local skating rink, hanging out at the skateboarding park after school and “I don’t know, just everything.” Well, the local skating rink has two open skate times a week, Friday nights at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoons. Since we don’t allow her to do activities like that on Sunday, that leaves Friday night and there are a lot of “older” kids that hang out there at that time. We do let her go and we always let her bring a friend, but we also always stay so we can keep an eye on what’s going on. Of the friends that she has invited each of their parents have been leery about even letting them go until we tell them that we stay the whole time and then they are ok with it. Obviously we aren’t the only ones that are concerned.
As for the skate park it’s not far from our house and we have walked past it many times. There never fails to be all kinds of activities going on that I wouldn’t want my high school student around including kids smoking pot when they don’t think anyone can see, let alone my nine year old. The skate park shares a fence with the dog park where we often take Dante to play, and let me tell you they aren’t hiding anything from anyone, but this is not a place I want my nine year old hanging out, period. So, yes I guess I am a mean mom, but someday if she makes it to adulthood in one piece I hope she’ll thank me for being so mean.
(Plus, with a daughter this cute I should be worried!)
I know that I am a cautious parent, but unfortunately in today’s society I think you have to be. There were so many things that I did as a child that I wouldn’t even consider letting my child do. Simple things like walking a few blocks away to a friend’s house, or riding my bike a couple of miles to swimming lessons. As she has gotten older there are more and more things I let her do because she does need increased independence as she grows up, but I will never be able to allow her to have the same independence I had for the mere fact that society is a scary place these days. I love her and if it takes being a mean mom to keep her healthy and safe then I’m all about being a mean mom. How about you?
Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean Mom told me: I loved you enough to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home. I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep. I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a jobthat should have taken 15 minutes.
I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect. I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.But most of all, I loved you enough to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.Those were the most difficult battles of all. I'm glad I won them, because in the end you won, too.And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them. Was your Mom mean? I know mine was.We had the meanest mother in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast,we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch,we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too.Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work.We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry,empty the trash and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers; she could read our minds and had eyes in the back of her head. Then, life was really tough!Mother wouldn't let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16.
Because of our mother we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other's property or ever arrested for any crime.It was all her fault. Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like Mom was. I think that is what's wrong with the world today. It just doesn't have enough mean moms!