The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: helicopter parenting

An open letter to the rude stage mother I encountered yesterday

I’ve struggled with my frustration toward “Helicopter Moms” for years, much to my dismay. Because really, I don’t want to care so much about how or why people do what they do. I want to be a “live and let live” kind of mom and focus my energy on my own stuff and my own kids.

But yesterday I had an interaction with a fellow mother that was so unsettling, I needed to write it out to help me process it.

My 10-year-old daughter was performing for the fifth and final time as a workhouse orphan in the local high school musical Oliver!

Mini-Me, signing autographs after the show...

Mini-Me, signing autographs after the show…be still my heart!

One of her classmates does a lot of local theater and according to her mother, “has been doing it forever.” Another mom and I were talking to that girl’s mother after the show and asked her how she finds out about all the local auditions, thinking our daughters might like to do more acting too.

Well, either this mom had accidentally put her thong on backwards that day, or she didn’t want any more competition for her daughter because her response was a very chilly, “Oh, word of mouth,” followed by, “…and the more shows you do, the more opportunities you get. In fact, Emma just won a scholarship to study in New York this summer.”

Intrigued, I asked, “Do you go with her for things like that?” Because really, I was just wondering how stage moms with multiple kids support their child’s interests if it requires travel.

But instead of answering my question respectfully, this woman turned directly to the other mom in our little conversation circle, rolled her eyes, and very sarcastically replied “No. I put my child on a plane alone to New York City.”

She wasn’t even looking at me when she said this. She was looking at the other mom and smirking like “Can you believe this chick just asked me that?!”

I was so caught off guard by her snarky reply that I countered “I’ve actually put my kids on planes alone before.” (Which is true. I have. My two older ones traveled alone to visit their grandparents once. Probably not the kind of thing I would ever do again…live and learn.)

But silly me, of course this mother would never dream of letting one of her children out of her sight even for a minute.

She then looked at me like I was wearing a pelt of human infant skin and her countenance told me she was not at all surprised I would put my children on a plane alone. If thought bubbles were real, hers would have read: “Of course you have, bless your heart.”

Which of course was my cue to KEEP. ON. TALKING. Because what better way is there to deal with a mean girl than to develop sudden diarrhea of the mouth?

“I mean…I’m just curious, because you have other kids. What do you do with them when you travel for things like this?”

“It’s only for a week.” (eye roll)

“But who takes care of your other kids?” I pressed.

“My husband.”  (unspoken body language: “Duh.”)

“Does he work from home?” (me, not letting go)

“Yes.” (unspoken: “Get a clue. And why are you wearing a pelt of baby skins?”)

Better late than never, I finally got the message she was not going to be more friendly or helpful or even civil in this conversation. She clearly had the market cornered on how to be a successful stage mother and she wasn’t going to give us any insight into how she keeps so many balls in the air.

Bitch.

I’m pretty sure these aren’t really the kind of situations Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had in mind when she said “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” She was probably talking about much higher level scenarios like negotiating with international terrorists or the women who answer the phones at the pediatrician’s office.

But still.

How hard would it have been for that mother to be pleasant, or helpful, or just not a fucking asshole?

And it finally dawned on me why Helicopter Moms like her irritate me so much.

It’s because their extreme hovering makes me question if I’m doing a good enough job mothering my own children.

Because sometimes it’s hard to know what came first, the independent children or the non-hovering mother? And does it even matter? Why does there have to be a right way and a wrong way to do this?

Should I be pushing my kids to win summer camp scholarships? Should I be attending all five showings of this 2.5 hour play (at $12 a pop, to see my kid in one five minute scene)? Should I not have allowed my two older kids to visit their grandparents without me that summer? Should I be writing this blog post when I could be vying for a good position in the carpool line or making flashcards or researching which extra curricular activities will help my kids get into the colleges that will ultimately help them earn the kind of salaries they will need to buy me the best nursing home money can buy?

Of course not. Because that is not my style or what my kids require.

I am exactly the kind of mother my children need.

I am exactly the kind of mother my children need.

My kids are creative, and independent, and can make people laugh and recite haikus about poop and have unstructured fun and study for tests without Pinterest-worthy embossed flash cards.

And they will be okay regardless of what I do or don’t do to help them. In fact, I know in my gut that they are better off for having to figure some things out on their own without my constant presence or input.

But it never makes it any easier to deal with those sanctimonious Helicopter Moms when our paths do cross.

Perhaps they are put in my life to help me grow as a loving, compassionate woman. For I have no control over the things they say or do…only the way I respond to them.

In which case…

Dear Stage Mother Superior,

Thank you for reminding me yesterday that I am an awesome mother. And so are you, in your own special way, bless your heart.

Kindly, and with compassion for your lack of grace and social skills,

-Leslie

PS – Watch your back, because my daughter WILL be at that next audition, and I’m letting her borrow my baby-skin-pelt. See you there! 

 

 

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When social awkwardness, sobriety, and blogging collide…

So about that video I posted last Friday

Over the weekend, it hit me like a ton of placenta teddy bears that I spend WAY MORE TIME online than anyone else I know in real life.

And when you combine my ginormous Internet-based catalogue of bizarre tidbits with the fact that I am not currently drinking, you have the makings for some pretty darn awkward cocktail conversation. We’re talking, “Hey, does this mole look weird to you?” banter. Eeeek.

Rest assured, this will not be much of an issue moving forward because I am either going to become a complete shut-in or I am going to start drinking again just so I can remotely begin to tolerate myself.

But in the meantime, it has dawned on me that some of my readers probably didn’t get the pop culture reference I was trying to poke fun of with my video last week.

Yes, that video was actually a parody (or rather an attempt at a parody) of several recent news stories that caught my eye.

Maybe if I take a step back and explain the background, the video will make more sense.

(Although, in my humble opinion, if you have to explain why something is funny, it really isn’t that funny. And now I’m explaining it, even after that explanation, which is just weird. Ew. Don’t look at me, I’m hideous.)

But here’s the background story just in case you want to know more about why I would ever do such disgusting things (for free…with children…and food…on camera. Oh God, I should be in jail, shouldn’t I).

About two weeks ago I caught a quick teaser on The Today Show about how actress Alicia Silverstone had a “unique way of feeding her baby.”

Oh those morning news show producers are so clever, aren’t they? They always manage to trick me into staying tuned for what promises to be the most unbelievable story EVER!

And for once, I can honestly say, I was NOT DISAPPOINTED!

They actually showed footage of Alicia Silverstone pre-chewing her 10 month old baby’s food and feeding the baby from her own mouth.

It was truly shocking. And also, it was mom-blog GOLD ON A STICK! I couldn’t WAIT to Tweet it, and Facebook it, and blog about it, oh my!

Listen, I do some pretty gross things. My version of “the 5 second rule” is more like “meh, this is from today right?”

And yet, even I was disgusted by Alicia Silverstone’s parenting style.

But I think I was less put off by the physical component of passing masticated food from mouth-to-mouth and more revolted by the notion of doing something for a healthy child that they should do for themselves.

On top of that was another recent news story on NPR about an Easter Egg Hunt in Colorado that was cancelled due to parental aggressiveness.

Swear to God, couldn’t make it up if I tried: parents hopped a rope fence and swarmed the field determined to get their kids a plastic egg.

Normally, I try to model a “live and let live” attitude about parenting. Who am I to judge?

But more and more I’m confronted with examples of egregious “Helicopter Parenting.” This is the popular name given to parents who hover over their children and are super controlling about every element of their lives.

Outlandish scenarios like these are the stuff that humorists dream of. Sure, it might be mean, yes, it might be gross, but oooh-la-la…is it ever good material!

So my video last Friday was my own little way of contributing to the conversation and sharing my two-cents about how ridiculous helicopter parenting can be. Some of the scenes that were cut due to time limitations were of me doing my kids’ homework for them and me cutting my 12 year-old’s food and feeding him with a fork while cooing “open wide for the choo-choo-train!” It’s funny (to me) because it is so ridiculous and yet Helicopter Parenting is SO hot in the news right now.

And it’s not just eccentric celebrity parents either. I know one mom in my own suburban middle class neighborhood who goes online every afternoon, prints out her middle school son’s homework for him (as posted online by his teachers), and files the assignments into color coded hanging folders for him so that when he gets home from school (after she picks him up by car so he won’t be exposed to the dangers of public transportation), he can get started on his homework without delay.

I find this utterly ridiculous. I would no more do this for my son than I would pre-chew his food.

Is she going to go away to college with him and organize his daily workload there too?

I’m no model parent by any means, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to raise a bunch of helpless namby-pamby kids who can’t even chew their own food or find their own Easter eggs.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Now that you know more about the inspiration for my video last week, which was intended to be an over-the-top-parody of current events, perhaps it makes more sense and is (hopefully) more entertaining.

Or maybe it’s still as gross to you as it was last Friday, in which case, please have some pity for me. I’m definitely not right in the head.

sincerely yours and with even more social awkwardness than ever,

-Iris

PS – does this mole look weird to you?

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