Today my youngest turns 11 and his first decade is behind him. Now there is now no denying that soon, he’ll be a teen along with the others and it’ll be the end of an era.
Then there’s me. I am not the mom I was back in the day. As the mom of a third kid, I’ve come a long way, baby.
As a Third-Kid-Mom, I have finally grown into my parenting role. Parents around me consider me a pro because their eldest is the same age as my runt. So these parents are the younger breed. But it’s not the years that separate us. It’s where we are in the parenting game.
These friends are still being called Mommy, a name from my past. They shiver at the word ‘teenager’. As much as they complain about being called every time they’re on the toilet, they can’t imagine life any other way. Losing control to teen-monsters with their own minds, beliefs and lives is frightening. Hence the questions.
“What do you tell your kids when they ask if you ever smoked drugs?” (Answer: Speaking frankly, I share the real reasons they should avoid them)
“What do you do when your child gets drunk?” (Answer: Help any way I can)
“What if you hate your kids’ friends?” (Answer: Good thing they’re not my friends)
“What if they refuse to do their homework?” (Answer: They will fail)
These questions tend to end with: Oh, I’m SO not ready for teenagers.
But do this mothering thing long enough with enough kids of different temperaments, and I guarantee you’ll be just fine when they start growing up and away.
I was your typical freaked-out mom. Nightmares about forgetting to feed the baby. Last to allow the first kid a Game Boy. But I’m on my way. I no longer shriek when the kid steps off a curb or lie awake nights sweating about what can happen when I’m not there. Looking back, the new me is not so much the hair dye and wrinkles, it’s more how relaxed I’ve become as a mom. I know I’m different because the tween is doing all kinds of things his sibs were forbidden at his age.
Simply put, with each kid, you relax. You no longer worry that if you say yes and let them do their thing on their way to independence, you will scar the kid for life. A little sugar? Fine. A white lie or two? Normal. Facebook? It’s the way of the world. My kids’ friends say their mom is ‘chill’ and I know enough to know that’s a good thing.
Let’s look at what’s changed around here.
Kid, Age 10: Mom, I want to go to camp for the whole summer!
First-Kid-Mom: No way! I die for a month without you!
Third-Kid-Mom: Italy- here I come!
Kid, Age 10: Grandma agrees I’m ready for a Game Boy because all my friends have one.
First-Kid-Mom: Game systems rot your brain. Grandma has no business interfering in our parenting decisions!
Third-Kid-Mom: Really? You want a fifth game system? Awesome! Get Grandma to pay for it!
Kid, Age 10: Can I walk with my friend to the village for ice cream?
First-Kid-Mom: What? That’s not safe! The world is full of crazies!
Third-Kid-Mom: Here’s my phone and some money. Look both ways and count your change.
Kid, Age 10: I’m not eating. I’m not hungry.
First-Kid-Mom: Are you sick? Are you dying?
Third-Kid-Mom: Next time don’t eat candy after school.
Even though I’m sort of kidding, I’m not. All these years of parenting has taught me to let go of the reins bit by bit so my children can hang on and get where they need to go. Pretty soon, the tween will be getting his license, right? By then, let’s hope he knows his way around.
Happy birthday, Kid.