A ‘smother mother’s’ guide to life

mother and son

No one likes a braggart. This is especially true in parenting. When someone waxes rhapsodic about how they have parenting all figured out and their child is 3 months old, 3 years ago, or even 13, most of us can’t help but roll our eyes a bit.

I have long characterized myself as a professional writer and amateur parent. That still holds true. What I am, however, is a parent with a few years under my belt.

Breathing easier

Once Boywonder turned 18 — now pushing 19 — I felt a little more comfortable calling him “done.” I mean none of us are ever “done.” We are all just works in progress. By done, I mean that he’s nearly 19 and has not yet committed a crime. That I know of. This means that he is either a pretty good person, or a really good criminal. I’m banking on the former.

It’s easy once you have raised a child to adulthood to think that you have all the answers. Let me assure you: I don’t. What I do know is that I have raised a strong, smart, capable young man. He’s brave, clean, hard-working, compassionate and kind. That may be the Boy Scout oath? Never mind, he’s an Eagle Scout, so it fits.

Look deeper

When people post about “kids these days,” they are often not being kind. They characterize this generation as whiny, lazy, entitled. To this, I can only say those writers must run with the wrong crowd.

I don’t see a lot of those kids. I see hard-working young adults. I see the ones who pitch in for home, community, family and friends. I see them in church. I see them at camp. I see them behind the counters and aprons in various establishments.

What I also see is that some kids — not all — but some are perhaps just a tiny bit hampered by parents who do too much. I know because I could have been one of them.

Smother mother

I was born a smother mother. I am seized multiple times per day with the overwhelming fear of something happening to my children. If it was a possibility, I would have wrapped them both in bubble wraps — if not actual bubbles. It took a few years for me to realize that life doesn’t really allow for that — that being a smother mother is comforting to the parent, but not necessarily good for the child.

While the urge to swoop in and give kisses and hugs is always there (and often appropriate), I had to learn to let them pick themselves up, dust themselves off and make good choices, too.

Let them grow

Last week, Boywonder took a senior trip. He and a group of friends piled into two vehicles and took off for a cabin in the woods. A group of teens and a cabin in the woods is pretty much every slasher movie ever. Still, I remained calm.

He packed himself. He blew me a kiss. He left with my best brownies in my best brownie pan, paid his own way and crossed state lines.

Halfway through the trip and I had received six words from him. “We’re Here” on Day One. ”I’m good” and “love you” (in response to the paragraph I sent him) on Day Two. I didn’t cry. I didn’t sob. It was actually perfect. If my grown son texted me all day when off on an adventure, I would definitely worry.

It’s all good

I have a confession: I love my son. He is a good portion of my heart and world. I also don’t “miss” him. Not in the way everyone seems to think. I am not sobbing. I am not counting the days until he returns. He is not 2 and I don’t have to have him under my thumb 24/7. I can’t decide if I’m really evolved and healthy or the worst mother ever?

As it turns out, all those years I packed him off to camp (and later he packed himself), he learned to be responsible and self-sufficient. He came home happy, rested, and possibly in possession of stories I won’t hear until he’s 40, if ever. In short, it went perfectly.

This is just the first of many steps, God willing. I will always be there waiting to give hugs, kisses and a helping hand, but I also know that if all goes well as time goes on, I may always want to, but should not need to.

Even a natural-born smother mother has to know that the best way to keep them close is to start letting go.


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