Monday, September 17, 2012

The Tapeworm Mom

I am not a Let Go parent. I am a Hold On Tight parent.

Helicopter parents? "Rookies!" I scoff.

I am more like a Tick parent. A Leech parent. An Internal Parasite parent.

Not because I am a psycho controlling nutcase, for which the case could certainly be made. Rather, it’s because of love. It’s because of an aching love for my children that makes the mama bear in me wrap her arms tightly around precious little bodies so no harm or distress will ever come to them. You know, it’s the kind of love that suffocates children and renders them void of any life skills. Or so I’ve heard.

I’ve read enough parenting books to know that I must become a Let Go parent. I have a little big girl going into middle school next year, and they aren’t going to let me sit in class with her, even if I beg. (Or make them cookies. I asked.) So I told myself that it was time to wear the Responsible Mommy undies and become a Let Go parent so my daughter can grow up unhindered.

The first test came immediately. My (sniff) 5th grade (sniff) safety patrol daughter sailed off to school on her bike in a gaggle of yellow-belted friends. (And, for the record, I didn’t get in the car five minutes later to make sure her bike was parked safely at school. But I thought about it.)

I went in her room and noticed the book next to her bed. Here’s what went on in my mind:

Me 1: Oh, shoot, Caroline forgot her book. She might get in trouble. I’ll bring it to her.

Me 2: Drop the book, sister. She forgot it, she gets in trouble, she won’t forget it again.

Me 1: I’ll just scoot down to where she’s patrolling and stick it in her backpack.

Me 2: Or she could actually suffer a consequence.

Me 1: No way! If she doesn’t have it, maybe her day will be awful. Maybe she’ll get mad at herself. Maybe she’ll call herself stupid and forgetful and she’ll be awash in self-esteem issues before she even hits puberty.

Me 2: Or maybe she’ll borrow a book from the teacher.

Me 1: Shut up.

Me 2: Drop the book.

Me 1: Sigh. Fine.

The next test came after school.

She had asked a friend if she wanted to play. The friend said she was busy and then turned around and asked a third friend if she wanted to play, right in front of Caroline. She was sad. My mind games began:

Me 1: What a bitch.

Me 2: So Caroline finds out not everyone wants to play with her all the time. That’s life.

Me 1: Let’s egg her house.

Me 2: I’m sorry, but are YOU in fifth grade? Kids need to learn to work things out.

Me 1: Can we at least crank call her?

Me 2: ...or we can just listen and offer support.

Me 1: Leave me alone.

Me 2: Just give her a hug and change the subject.

(Me 2 is such a pain in the ass. But even Me 1 knows Me 2 is right.)

So there you go. I am well on my way to becoming a Let Go parent.

For the record, it’s not going to be easy. I look at this poised ten-and-a-half year old and I see my little three-year-old girl with blonde pigtails and big blue eyes telling me to hold "callerpittars" for her. I kiss her cheek and I think of the five-year-old who needed butterfly kisses, eskimo kisses and mommy kisses before she’d go to sleep. It really feels as though yesterday involved cribs and high chairs and gliders; diapers and Goodnight Moon.

I’m going to hold on to any little girl parts I can find. I’ll read to her when she asks; she can sit on my lap and hold my hand and help me bake. I’ll scratch her back and keep Band Aids and snacks in my purse. I’ll indulge the little girl in her until it is finally and totally edged out by a big girl.

But. But I’ll delight in the big girl stuff, too. I’ll delight in how she finally gets my jokes and tells funny ones of her own. I’ll be proud of the strong athlete who can score soccer goals and run a 5K and win an ice-skating trophy. I’ll celebrate the big kid who makes good choices and watches out for her little brother. I’ll cheer her on as she leaves elementary school behind, even though I could swear she just started kindergarten.

I’ll love every part of her fiercely, even as I’m letting go reluctantly.

And every now and then, when I’m sure she’s got the independence thing under control, I’ll give Me 2 the finger and let Me 1 win.


  1. It doesn't go away with age. My oldest is in his second semester at college. There are days when I think perhaps I should go sit in his classes, maybe make friends with his professors....

  2. This is so me, I love it!!