Life Lessons of a Mom: Our Children Are Not Us

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I parent with a wooden spoon. I’m Italian, that’s what we do. Unfortunately, often times I lean to the side of inflexible, but I figure some day my Noodges will thank me. Much like I thank my inflexible mother now. What can I say? The apple barely let go of the branch.

Having said that, I realize there are times when we must allow our Noodges to make their own choices. Small ones at first. Though, I witnessed a mom in the grocery store allow her 2 year-old to pull out a yogurt drink from the cardboard container and not put it back. The remaining three drinks stayed in the case and the 2 year-old walked away with her drink fisted in her chubby hand. I don’t think that was a good choice. Just saying.

But there are times when Noodges have to make their own choices. As much as I hate to admit it, clothing is one of them. Let’s remember I’m inflexible, so all clothing choices have rules in my house. Nothing too low or too short or vulgar, etc. But I have to let them express themselves. That means biting my tongue when something doesn’t match, unless I’m asked, or it’s not the way I would put it together. They will find their style in their own time. Not my time and maybe not my fashion. That’s just a pill I have to swallow.

Noodge 1 has long hair. At first, I thought, how can I let my boy grow his hair long? Then I thought, if I put up a fight about this I might miss the opportunity to fight about something good. So, the hair grew. And it’s almost to his shoulders. I stopped caring as long as it’s clean. See how flexible I am? Honestly, I like the long hair. I’m a child of the ’80’s: the big hair era. Plus, have you seen mine? There goes that apple again.

What about shoe choices? And makeup? And backpacks? I know that no parent wants their child to be judged by their peers for the way they look. We all want our children to fit in and have friends. But should we stop them from being themselves just because it isn’t how we would dress or accessorize?

Have you ever seen that show Modern Family? Funny show. Check it out. There’s an episode where Manny wants to wear a poncho that reflects his nationality to school and his step-dad Jay talks him out of it because he doesn’t want Manny to be made fun of. Gloria, Manny’s mom, gets mad when she finds the poncho in the trunk of the car and says, “We’re taking this poncho to school so he knows we support him.” Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing as parents? Support and guide. Not dictate. If your kid wants to go to school wearing a poncho don’t you have to let him? Aren’t the consequences worse if we squash who they are? Or is protecting your child from getting shoved into a locker, and excluded from the in-crowd more important in those formative years than teaching them to be proud of who they are, to be independent, to march to their own beat and let what other people think be damned? Is it our need to be popular that taints the way we think our children are being seen?

It’s hard to let go. I struggle with that every day. But when I’m having a moment of clarity, I know deep down, my Noodges are good kids with their head on their shoulders. Sometimes they are going to make choices and fall and other times they are going to soar. Even though, they aren’t me, I can look at them and say, “Hey, those are my kids. Unique. Independent. And I think they’re super just the way they are.”



8 thoughts on “Life Lessons of a Mom: Our Children Are Not Us

  1. I like Modern Family, Gloria most of all.

    At three months shy of 18, Older Son came home with his BEST HAIRCUT ever. Just sayin.

    Hopefully, I’m helping ready them for handling themselves when I’m not there, the older they get. Then they go to the beach and snowboarding without their ma. W’re still not discussing Wildwood after the senior prom.

    1. He went to Wildwood after the Senior Prom? You’re braver than I am. I might change my mind, but as of now that won’t be allowed. And call it a double standard, but I have a girl to think about too. If I allow her brother to go, two years later she’s going to want to go and I’m pretty darn sure my daughter is not going to Wildwood after the Senior Prom. Not unless her daddy can come along. Ha!

      1. No. I have all year to gear up for Wildwood. He is starting senior year in two weeks. (Dang, three years zipped by!) and I’m still not okay with this practice. What lame-o started it? Our crowd went down the shore after the prom–not that this Italian girl was allowed, lol.

      2. This is the reply to your comment below, but WordPress won’t let me reply underneath. I would NEVER have been allowed to go to Wildwood after the prom. And since I’m a lot like my mom, I probably will say no way to my kids too. I’d rather they invite friends over to my house and they can hang all night here. I don’t care who started this tradition, we’re not participating. My Noodges will thank me later. 😉

  2. Amen, daughter! I think you’re doing a great job and one day you will see the fruits of your labor. I know I must have done something right for I can now see the fruits of mine. No parent could be prouder. I Thank God everyday for the beautiful daughters that He gave me and the beautiful lives they’ve achieved. What more could a parent ask for!!

  3. When my middle son Rob was fifteen he desperately wanted to go school shopping at the mall WITHOUT me tagging along after him and monitoring his choices. (apples, trees…) and so I gave in and sent him to shop without me. He and his friend Todd went into the Livingston Mall. Rob had enough money on him to make a decent dent in his clothing needs. What did he come home with? Three green shirts. That’s it. No shoes, no pants. Three EXPENSIVE green shirts. He wore those shirts forever. Rob is now 35 years old. One of those three shirts survived all the years and I wear it with a pair of boxers as my favorite pajamas.

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