Sometimes a Mom Just Needs to Back-Off
WHEN YOUR KIDS ARE PUSHING YOUR BUTTONS, IT MAY BE BECAUSE YOU ARE PUSHING THEIRS.
One morning last week, the pace of getting ready for the day was a bit hectic at our house. My husband had left early for work - but my son had gotten up later than usual, and so had I.
My teenager was gnawing on a breakfast bar while doing something at the computer, when my mothering instincts and guilt set in. I apologized for not made sure he was up earlier, and talked about how terrible it was of me to allow him to go off to school without a decent breakfast. I asked if he needed me to pick anything up for him when I was in town, did he remember to get all his soccer gear out of the dryer, and did he knew yet what time his rehearsal was scheduled for next week? “Oh, and by the way - how did that test go yesterday?”
Suddenly, he said through gritted teeth. “Get out of my way and just stop interrupting me.”
That really pushed my buttons. For a second, I was mad. Really mad. I was trying to help, and this is how he speaks to me?! What right did he have to use that tone?
Then, I had an ah-ha sort of moment. What else was there for him to do? I had been pushing him right into a corner, and he had to make me stop. My comments were said as much for my own benefit (to make myself feel like I was being a good mom), as they were to be useful. My son didn't need my help to get out the door to school - in fact, I really was just interfering and inhibiting him from finishing up the things he had to do. My husband has been pointing out for a while that maybe I need to ease up on the parenting thing a bit. Time to stop micromanaging a competent 16 year old. I suddenly realized he was right.
I still have a need to mother my teenagers, but they don't require as much mothering from me. My moment of awareness actually helped me to realize that this is okay. There will be situations when they still need my guidance and advice, but it is time to let them show me my input isn't necessary most of the time. My role now is to be there when my kids need me, but to try to be better at fading into the background when they do not.
When our kids (no matter how old they are) start to push our buttons, it can be worthwhile to consider that maybe, just maybe, it is because we are pushing theirs!
From the day they are born, we strive to help our children achieve independence. Getting there is a victory for them - no matter how bitter-sweet for us. Oh, and that exam I mentioned earlier. It went just fine.