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Uncool Mom

Songs of heartbreak are flowing from down the hall. Why is it the heartbreak of youth seems so much more devastating than the heartbreaks we have subsequently? You remember being a heartbroken teenager. Don't pretend you don't.

Have I mentioned how hard it is being a mom? I know, right. I am full of thoughts today that have never occurred to you. Being a mother lately (for me) seems to be largely about having the capacity to say, "No." It doesn't make you cool in the eyes of your kids, though. Remember the kids who had cool parents in high school? Those are the one's who're now running mom and dad's weed patch because their parents are in jail. I am overstating things as usual. Not all kids who get to eat Lucky Charms with Chocolate Milk are bad. To the contrary.

The point is that from the time they are born, kids are hell-bent on self-destruction. We do all we can to protect them with special latches, knee pads, fancy devices that proclaim they will keep them safe. As they get older, maybe not even that much older, they buck at this. They don't like the taste of the bit in their mouth. More and more, they push all that stuff- and you, away. When my son was age one, he used to push my hand out of the way as I tried to assist, saying "Seff, seff!" (Which of course translated to "Self.")

As they ripen in age, this willingness to push the boundaries of gravity and human capacity continue. Surely, certain kids have certain leanings. Some never stop moving and bounce about. Some wait to move and when they finally do, it is with full impact. As parents, we try to anticipate these potential moves and yet there is only so much padding we can cover the house in. They are bound to find that one patch of unprotected space.

It has been one of those weeks where I feel like all I have done is say no. I haven't made many friends with the kids whom I make sure get proper dental care, provide food and shelter for. I know it won't always be like this. I know when they are grown they might say, "Hey, thanks for saying no to me sometimes and protecting me from things I couldn't understand back then." Maybe. It doesn't really matter. I can't in good conscience be the fun parent all the time. Never mind the mistake I made before the Fort Bragg Fireworks last Saturday when I let my kid eat six S'Mores. No one is perfect.

I like the idea of not having to be perfect but instead being a "good enough mother." I am glad that theory is in place. I am grateful for the boundaries I got as a kid. Maybe in time, mine will appreciate the ones I have set up for them.

One can hope. In the meantime, here's a cute picture of the little man's T-ball team.


  1. Joseph Kugelmass July 11, 2012

    “Can I swing this around like a helicopter?” “Yes.” “Can you build a blanket fort with me?” “Yes.” “Can I eat the rest of this later?” “Yes.”

    I’m going to cheat and draw upon knowing you and the little man a bit better after last weekend’s reunion: you’re not a naysayer. Your decisions never depend on your mood; you’re not arbitrary or hypocritical, and you talk everything through.

    As I see it, anyhow, playing heartbroken music is not criticism. It’s a way of dealing what things that are inevitable. Yes, I didn’t have anyone stopping me from buying a cookie at noon — and it was delicious — but I’m still listening to heartbroken songs. I like how truthful they are. That’s what we want from artists, and ultimately what we want from our parents too.

    • Jessica Ehlers Post author | July 11, 2012

      Ha. And you now Rule at Donkey Kong. Speaking of which, we made you a badge. Cheers!

  2. Tara O July 11, 2012

    Very well written!

    • Jessica Ehlers Post author | July 11, 2012

      Come visit?

  3. Sue Lindley July 11, 2012

    Not one doubts your capability to being a good parent… we’re all just doing the best we can in any given moment…my favorite “Guy” on this is Stephen Glenn, a leader in his field of raising responsible kids. He’s the one who said” No other species puts 20-30 juveniles with just one adult”. The horses in the field have lots of help, and aunts and uncles of wolves are indispensable to sharing the load. And when they are 27 or something they will thank you.

    • Jessica Ehlers Post author | July 11, 2012

      I won’t hold my breath! Lol.

  4. susan ma and grandma July 11, 2012

    Your words are reminiscent of what we as parents and persons in general experience. The little man is blessed to have a mother who is willing to say to the world her thoughts, he is blessed to have a mother who loves him, listens to his feelings and words and can let him have six or even seven smores. How lucky can a little man be. How lucky can a mother be to have a child who takes stands and pushes the envelope…..and hugs and is so himself.

    • Jessica Ehlers Post author | July 11, 2012

      All everyone is taking from this article is how much sugar I let him consume that night. Lol. Cheers!

  5. Janice July 11, 2012

    Like being boss. I was told “If everybody likes you, you’re not doing your job,” as boss. I’m apparently doing my job.

    • Jessica Ehlers Post author | July 11, 2012

      Ah, yes. The universal truth.

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