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Coming to terms with the terms of mom-hood

for The Brooklyn Paper

I am not hurt, I am not hurt. I repeat this over and over to myself on many weekend mornings when I float out to the house at large, “Anyone want to come with me on a walk?”

“No.”

“No thanks.”

“Nope, I’m good.”

One boy, then a second, then a man, all confirming their desire not to hang out with me.

All happily ensconced with technology playing, reading, seeking out information of one kind or another.

I head out the door with the dog, Ginger, my ally, my girl, my companion. Her tail wags, her smile appears beneath her sandy beard. Thank god for Ginger.

I cannot help but feel rejected. Isn’t part of the reason I had kids was so I could have cute little playmates? Apparently, once they start to decide how to spend time on their own, they do not always choose to be with their mom. Huh.

I immediately feel guilty, memories flooding back of my own childhood when I refused to take walks with my own mom.

Did I notice if she was upset? It is normal, I think, that kids want to do their own thing. It is good when they can separate. Right? Isn’t it?

The balance I try to achieve between doing my own thing — work and social — and how much time I devote to the kids is shifting with the new normal, where the kids cheer when we say we’re going out, knowing that means they can do as they please without me yammering at them to do what pleases me.

But I’m cool! I swore I would be the fun mom that the kids would like to hang around, that I would totally understand them and their interests and not be the wonky clueless lout lingering to squeeze out a few words.

Suddenly, I am a wonky clueless lout.

I try to laugh at the things they like on iFunny.com, but they’re not always funny. I fall asleep during shows I try to watch with them if it is past 8 pm.

I wake up in a panic sometimes lately that I’m losing them and that I need to do something quick. But what? Take up paintball?

It happened last week that they were with friends, each of them on their own personal devices. I was disgusted.

“Why even be together?” I asked. It offended me as much for the moment as for the so many other moments when they chose technology over talking to me.

I told them they had to get off, and they agreed. It was even like they wanted to, but didn’t know what else to play.

“We don’t have enough people to play ‘Hit Man,’ ” one of their friends said, “unless … unless you play!”

I swear somebody stopped the record player suddenly with a scratch. A mom allowed to play?

I expected my boys to wave off the idea of my joining them in play, but they looked up at me expectantly.

Okay, here it was. My dream come true. I looked at the book in my hand, at the fire in the fireplace in front of me, and rose up slowly from the beanbag. I recognized a gift horse when I saw one.

“Okay, I’m in,” I said. “What do I do?”

I was Hit Man, it turned out, and my kill was “a bit too obvious.” But I was forgiven.

And it reminded me that sometimes, oftentimes, in the coming years, I’m going to have to jump at the chances I’m given to be with my boys.

And it’s going to be on their terms, not mine.

Read Fearless Parenting every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com.

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Reader Feedback

Hope from Park Slope says:
I really do look forward to the day when you write something that is not by any stretch of the imagination wallowing in self-pity or a bid at catharsis.
March 27, 5:54 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
You need to stop being so controlling and concerned with only your own desires. You don't seem to consider their feelings (your children). I can see what Hope is saying, because your biggest shock seems to be that your children are people in their own right, and don't only live to serve your needs.
I'm not saying to forget yourself entirely, but you can teach your children to be less self-obsessed if you practice that behaviour yourself.
March 27, 11:06 am
Jbob from PS says:
You guys are asses, this is about the most normal thing that every parent goes through. People pillary this lady for letting her kids have their own space in one column and then attack her for being overbearing in another. Rock on!
March 27, 11:45 am

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