When I was in 2ndgrade we lived at the end of a long dirt lane. Mom would walk to meet the bus with Alyssa and Jon, not yet in school. One day it happened to be raining and when the bus stopped, mom came up to the steps of the bus and helped me down, then proceeded to pull a black garbage bag turned poncho over my head. Alyssa and Jon, unaffected by their garbage-bag-raincoats, were jumping in mud puddles and giggling, but I was furious. I had to watch the kids on the bus laugh at me as I sulked away in my Hefty, madder than a hornet and planning revenge on the thoughtless woman who was my mother.
Today I became aware of my own leprosy. It’s a sad thing when it finally happens and you realize you no longer belong in public view near your soon-to-be teenage boys and teenage-but-thinks-she’s-an adult daughter. I was just trying to capture the first day of school on camera and no one but Aubrey would cooperate. Sweet little Aubrey. She was my favorite from 6:45-6:48 a.m. The rest of these people I birthed seemed to believe their soul would disappear if I took a picture. So I did what any reasonable mother would do and stalked them like the paparazzi.
I waited for them to go outside and wait for their bus, then grabbed my phone and a sweatshirt and snuck quietly out the back door and around the corner and took some covert candid shots, because I had to have something; I have every first day of school picture since Addison’s first day and I wasn’t about to let uncooperative adolescents have the last word. Then they caught me. As they began to protest Ayden thought he heard the bus and got a look of sheer panic on his face.
“Get inside, Mom!”
I smiled sweetly and replied, “Pose for a picture and I will. Don’t, and your friends get to watch me take a picture of you getting on the bus.”
I kind of get the whole being embarrassed of your mom thing. But I’m cool. Right? WRONG. Here’s a bitter pill: If you are a mom of any human aged 11-17 you serve a solely utilitarian purpose when in public with your children. Try to cross that line and bad things happen. Things that your kids will have to go to therapy about later in life. I can picture it now…
Addison: “It just…hurts. She has no idea how I felt when she hugged me in front of my friends. I mean, who does that?”
Or Ayden: “My mom is a loser. What kind of person says ‘I love you’ when she drops you off at school? My friends heardthat. Ugh. I can’t even talk about this anymore.”
Even my little Avery told me today I could only stand outside with him if I put jeans on. There are conditions now. I was dressed in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, but the way he said it you’d have thought I was wearing a floral housecoat with my hair in curlers.
I guess it’s time to let them grow up. It’s hard. My heart aches for the times when they thought I hung the moon. But it’s not about me. And I want them to run to the One who actually did hang the moon, so I’ll step aside and let them grow. One day they’ll tell stories about me and laugh at the lengths I took to record their existence. Then they’ll have children and completely understand.
Aubrey has now joined the ranks of embarrassed teenager and Addison is on the other side of it, so there’s hope for coolness recovery – you just have to be patient. In the meantime, I have to make sure what I’m wearing in public is acceptable by the youngest, who, might I add, used to wear her bikini top over her shirt to preschool and snow boots with shorts in July. I was never embarrassed. Just saying…