Give Me a Break!

Posts 04

Fall was in the air yesterday with our first swing at 80 degree daytime temperatures.  It was glorious.  The weather won’t hold here yet, but we are about to embark on another milestone: Fall Break.  For those of you with traditional school schedules, Fall Break is a random week off of school in September.  My kids go back to school August 1st, so we are up against our first vacation break. And I am up against a new challenge. College tours.


My oldest is a junior in high school this year, and she wants to utilize Fall Break as a first pass at visiting colleges.  Here’s the snag: she has no idea what she wants. Big school or small?  Public or private?  City or college town?  Big decisions can feel overwhelming when you are at the beginning of the process.  She is in a time of transition.  I have also decided that she is not the only one experiencing a season of transition.  I’ve come to learn that busy high school schedules are nature’s way of preparing me for her inevitable departure.  I find myself thinking about what is next.  Even my middle schoolers don’t seem so little all of a sudden.  It’s frightening.


Like many, my identity has become tightly intertwined with my role as a mother.  I find that not only have I lost some of myself to this role, my kids have wholeheartedly adopted the idea that I am onlya mother.  They do not see the whole person.  They don’t see me as a wife, daughter, friend, sister, mentor, or creator. Sometimes I don’t either.  It is easy to get lost in the day-to- day grind of caring for a family.  It’s easy to go along with the role you are assigned. Easy is not necessarily better. I’ve discovered that I should have been more assertive with my own wants and needs over the years.  Why? Because my children think I’m incompetent in anything outside of my mom role.  It’s an ugly truth.  It’s a consequence that I didn’t see coming, but has become abundantly clear of late. I recognize that the majority of teenagers discount the abilities of their parents. I try to take our interactions with a grain of salt, but it’s starting to wear me down.


It’s hard to admit, but my children think I’m stupid.  Seriously. It’s one of those things that I think I should be able to laugh at and shake off, but recently this topic has reared its ugly head over and over.  Scheduling college tours has been a challenge.  Not the actual scheduling with schools, mind you.  Just negotiating with the oldest child who simultaneously wants me to give her full control and also explain to her exactly what to do and then do it for her.  It can be a bit maddening.  I encouraged her to think about what she might feel is important to her to have in a college experience.  For instance, she is excited about football games.  How important is that to you?  Do you only want a school if they are large enough to have a football team? This somehow devolved into a complaint that I don’t ever take her to college football games.  The conversation further deteriorated into her letting her personal beliefs shine through. She informed me that I don’t have any idea about what she wants because it’s not like I ever did anything besides go to class and study.  Wow.

This statement initially just made me angry, but eventually it made me sad.  How is it that a child I have raised for the last 16 years doesn’t know very much about me? She seemed genuinely surprised when I started listing off activities I did in college.  What? You went to football games?  With FRIENDS?  Gasp! This is the same child who just the other day commented that I have “no idea” how hard AP Chemistry is.  She would be surprised to know that I would have commiserated with her.  College level chemistry is very hard (for me anyway).  But, how would I know anything about that?  I’m just a mom.


This seems like a strange idea to explore.  It’s not as if I require daily accolades from my children.  I’m their mother not their best friend.  My sense of self is not dependent on their view of me.  I also cringe occasionally at the audacity of their beliefs about me.  My 15-year-old was distressed about her vocabulary homework in her economics class the other night.  I offered to help her study.  She rolled her eyes and proclaimed, “You wouldn’t understand it.  It’s hard.”  I reminded her that I have a degree in economics.  She stood her ground.  She was firm in her belief that although I managed to earn a bachelor’s degree in the subject, I would be incapable of wrapping my head around 10thgrade vocabulary words.  And this is the part that really gets me.  I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that the work of a mother is not valuable.  I don’t want them contributing to the cultural stereotype that a person who chooses to be a stay-at-home parent isn’t capable of other things.  I certainly don’t want my girls to grow up and think that they will lose themselves if they become a mother.


We are in a season of transition and change can be hard.  We all go through it at some time or another.  Births, new schools, new hometowns, graduations and retirements…life does not stand still for anyone.  For now, I will realize that they won’t know more about me if I don’t make a point to tell them.  I don’t regret any of the choices I have made for my family.  I am blessed to be doing what I love.  I know I am not alone in these feelings.  I have talked to too many other moms who have expressed similar thoughts.  It’s natural for kids to be self-centered and to take us for granted.  It may take more effort for them to see us outside of the role we play in their lives.  I’m realizing that this effort is something I need to start working on.  I want my children to grow up and know more about me than the fact that I’m their mom.  I believe the work will be worth it.

Lest you believe this way of thinking only exists with teenagers, I will close with this anecdote. I married my husband in 2012, and I was a newly licensed Registered Nurse.  I worked really hard for that degree and certification.  I had to do all of the things one normally does … homework, studying, late nights, difficult tests …  and I had to do it while being a single parent to 3 young kids. I stepped away from a new nursing job when I got married in order to take care of my newly blended family. Shortly thereafter, my then 4-year-old son skinned his knee.  He came into the kitchen crying and looking for me.  I cleaned him up at the sink and retrieved a Band-Aid from the cabinet. He looked up at me through his tears and said, “Mommy, the white part goes on the blood.”


Thank you, son. Indeed, it does.  I got schooled on Band-Aid application by a 4-year-old. We still joke about that one at my house.  It became shorthand for acknowledging that the kids think we never know what we are doing. Seasons evolve and children grow. Some things change and some things stay the same.  I’m hoping my family can do a little of both, and I’m hoping that I can too.  In the meantime, to all of you parents out there that have this issue, I hear you.  I see you.  You matter. You make a difference.  Cheers!


“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..”

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4

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  1. Rochelle says:

    Amy, as we say in Australia, “my ears must be burning,” Its an expression we say when we sense someone’s talking about them…I am right there with you on this article…so good

  2. Love it. Every mother can relate to this post in more ways than one.

  3. Linda Zollweg says:

    So true, I’m forwarding this to my stay at home daughter of teens. She can so relate. Thanks, Amy.

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