Why I will NEVER be a “normal mother” [Letter to my 12 year old]


Dear Beloved “Tween” of Mine,

You recently sighed and mumbled, “I just wish you could be a normal mom.” This was on the heels of your dad and I deciding to opt you out of a 9/11 video at school (you were the “only” kid in the entire 7th grade who had to visit the library instead!) This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this complaint, so I decided to fully explain why I will never be a “normal mom.”

We care about what goes into your mind, your body, and your soul. Yes, we insist on eating (mostly) healthy meals with (usually) vegetables sitting around the table as a family. I know the research shows you and your sister will amazingly have better grades, better odds of avoiding drug use, and better social skills from that one daily ritual. We allow very few PG movies (I know, I know, most of your friends watch PG-13 movies!) because so many are filled with bad language, violence, and sexual content that we don’t think you “have to” have in that mind of yours (yet). That 9/11 video? Yes, it’s important for you to know about our country’s history, but I don’t think that translates to you needing to see video images of terrified people falling from the Trade Center.  Yes, I am fully aware you are also the ONLY KID IN YOUR MIDDLE SCHOOL WHO DOESN’T HAVE A CELL PHONE (according to you). But we don’t believe just because everyone has it (or does it) that means it’s right. As an adult, my phone is such an intrusive distraction and causes me regular stress as I yell, “Has anyone seen my phone? Agh, I can’t find my phone!” You have other things you need to stress about like doing well in school, keeping healthy friendships, and avoiding those super immature middle school boys. (-: You also don’t need a phone interrupting your precious sleep. I know, you are the only 12 year old who has a bedtime before 10 pm. You can’t believe we make you go to bed around 8:30 pm, scoring a healthy 10 hours of sleep every night. But our wise(r) adult brains tell us that your nightly rest is critical to you doing so well in school (Ms. Smarty Pants “All A’s”), focusing and concentrating, and GROWING!

Lest you think I’m a total rule-following, un-fun prude, let’s remember all the “abnormal” ways I embarrass you by breaking the “rules” of motherhood. There’s my habit of talking and laughing loudly, as well as singing and whistling constantly. I do enjoy making your friends laugh in the car, instead of staring straight ahead and chauffeuring quietly. Yes, I do crazy things the other moms don’t do. Remember when I sled right into our neighborhood lake on a snowy winter day? (Oh yeah, you followed right after me and we laughed like crazy as our legs immediately started to freeze as we broke through the sheet of ice). There was the time I hosted a staff holiday party and belted out the National Anthem opera style with piano accompaniment just for laughs. Even though you were upstairs getting ready for bed, I know you heard my singing and the roars of laughter below. Similarly, you’ve seen the videos of your aunt (my twin) and I rapping to “Ice Ice Baby” at our 40th birthday party with an amazing choreographed routine (and props!) You were there to cheer for me doing the “mud” races and the Half Iron Man triathlon. You saw how even though my knee was killing me, I pushed through and finished the race. I know these might be unusual choices for a mom, but I hope the cumulative effect of witnessing such craziness is that you will have a role model for pushing through your fears and never letting a fear of looking foolish keep you from having fun. May you always have a burning desire for trying something NEW and DIFFERENT! Most importantly, you’ve heard plenty about my strange philosophy that it’s great to talk about failure. I’ve told you (or highlighted) every failure or fiasco in my life, as I believe our failures are what spur us to greatness.

Finally, let me point out the obvious connection: you’re not so “normal” yourself, Miss Tween. You still give me full body hugs, even standing on top of my feet so we can do a crazy hug/dance through the house. You “allow” me to snuggle with you and tuck you in every night, but don’t think I don’t notice how most nights you throw that leg over me so I have to wrestle myself free from your embrace. It’s our little secret how we call each other “bestie” at home, and have our own secret handshake. After school, you don’t run up to your room to get on your phone and watch hours of You Tube videos. Instead, I see you composing amazing music on our piano and writing poetry and stories you are eager to share with me. When we “make” you join us on family walks after dinner, even though you grumble, I love how you reach for my hand or grab your sister for spontaneous hugs as we amble along. Yep, it’s hard to put into words the joy I feel when we are spontaneously dancing or belting out a karaoke duet together in our living room.

In closing, I have thought about all we do that is so “not normal.” Deep down, I gotta believe we both know being different isn’t so bad after all. I guess it comes down to holding firm to core rules and values, while also bucking the expectations of conformity in the name of living life to the max.

Now, you must excuse me please. You are turning 13 soon and I am most certain you will be expecting me to rap or perform at your party. I need to start rehearsing.


One Response to “Why I will NEVER be a “normal mother” [Letter to my 12 year old]”

  1. Holly Says:

    Love love this! Thanks for speaking out about parenting conformity! We too are parents like you and it’s so nice to be validated every now and then :-).

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