This question has been posed to me more than once by my 12 year old offspring, Patricia. She says it with such conviction that it immediately causes me to look at her in disbelief. Really? Really??? My first thought is always to wonder exactly what “all the other moms” were doing so differently than me? Hmmmm...ok, admittedly, I have a much more active social life and a wide circle of unmedicated friends. No, we are not the type of people who sit at home drinking coffee and comparing stories about our kids. Hell, most of my friends don’t have children. Most of them don’t even really like children, although they adore my daughter - mostly because she is just like me with the same sense of acerbic wit, but shorter. We are also not the people you will see hanging out at their kid’s soccer games every weekend yelling like lunatics when the ref makes a bad call against our child’s team. I get it. My friends are a bit “different.” We drink, sometimes to excess. We curse. We like all kinds of music, including what she listens to (except for Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber, but that's just me. I can't speak for the rest of my friends.) We are loud and obnoxious and we really really like to just “hang out” together, mostly because we just enjoy each other’s company. Truth be told, I am thankful for my slightly insane friends. Bill and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But is that really a bad thing? Apparently, in the mind of a 12 year old the answer is a resounding “yes” at least on the surface. She tries to convince me that she would be much happier if I sat around in my pink track suit and extra forty pounds, baking cookies, and devoting every moment of the day to her well-being. What she doesn’t get is that I do devote the most significant portion of my time to her well-being, I’m just doing other things at the same time. I am a master multi-tasker.
If you ask most people who know me, they would never use the word “traditional” to describe me in any sense. I don’t fit the “mom” mold. For a long time, I felt really bad about that, but honestly, the whole June Cleaver thing was just never right for me. I tried on the “stay at home mom” routine, but to me, it just plain sucked. Maybe that comes from having my daughter when I was a bit older (I was 34) and having experienced all the great things out there in the world, like a fulfilling job, and a life of my own that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was always in awe of the moms who could pull off the traditional mom persona with such ease. I can tackle some of those mom tasks. I am a world class baker and I’m way too artsy craftsy for my own good. I also make a healthy and nutritious dinner every night, one habit I’m fairly sure my child wishes I would give up because she is always bitching about not liking vegetables. But in the end, I’m never going to win that “Mother of the Year” award. Maybe that is why I only have one child. And maybe that is why I don’t have a crapload of friends who also have children. I love my daughter to death and cannot imagine one moment without her, but my patience with other people’s children is almost non-existent. You'll never see me begging to hold someone's infant,that is for sure. At some point (I’m guessing of course) Higher Powers looked down on me and said “Whoa...one is enough for that girl. She’s already going to put the child she has into therapy at an early age.” It should be noted that Tricia is not in therapy...yet. I’m sure one day she will be, and I’ll be happy to contribute monetarily to her sessions, since it is likely that I will be the source of her neuroses. I hope it brings some clarity into her life as to why her mother is a nutcase with the attention span of a two year old. I never said I was perfect, or easy. I’m not even very mature when you get right down to it.
But I’d like to think that my certain level of immaturity is what makes me fun and sets me apart from all the other moms. I’m letting Tricia get a pink or blue streak in her hair (to me, if that is the worst that I have to give into, I’m doing pretty well.) I give her a fairly wide berth of independence and I am what I consider a good listener when it comes to difficulties that crop up in her day. She’s not afraid to say the word “boys” around me because in my mind, knowledge is power, and I’d rather she be able to talk to me about anything rather than experience the fear of reprisal for bringing those taboo subjects up. When I’m not yelling at her to clean up her room, we actually get along quite well. I’m not sure that would be the case if I was a “traditional” mom. I’d be too over-protective, too worried about what “might”happen. I’d be more of a pain in the ass than I am now, I’m fairly sure about that.
So while it’s true that I have some “challenges” in the parental department, I think the good actually outweighs the bad. No, I’m never going to be one of those moms who doesn’t care about her personal appearance (vanity will most certainly always rule the day) or never leaves the house on the weekends. I’m not going to dote on my child endlessly and I’m not going to obsess about what she is doing every single friggin moment as long as I am breathing. I trust her, and I think I’ve instilled a healthy dose of common sense in her which will help a lot when it comes to making the right choices in her life. If you never give your child the opportunity to make a decision for themselves, then in the end, doesn’t that render them completely helpless without any real world coping skills? And while I will always have a ton of friends, a busy social calendar and an appetite for a good martini, there will always be time to listen to her and dispense some much needed advice that will help her get through life relatively unscathed. She knows I love her, and secretly I think she is glad I’m not June Cleaver...not that she knows who June Cleaver is, but you get my point.