Mothers Are People Too!

Dear Woo Woo Girl:
Is it selfish to want my kids to know me as a person and not just the task master and head screamer? I have feelings, frustrations, dreams, hobbies that they don’t pay much attention to. I don’t need them to be involved in my life, but it would be nice if they were curious. Looking back I knew what my parents were all about and what they stood for. I remember them as people and was able to separate their job as a parent from who they were.
My kids can’t seem to do that. I don’t think they have any idea who I am, and I’m not sure they are interested. I often wonder what they will reflect on or say at my funeral when I die.
Signed Disappointed

Dear Disappointed:
From one mother to another, I hear you! Parenthood doesn’t always turn out the way we planned, does it? Dreams of becoming best friends with that little girl or boy who grows up and loves to come home for Sunday dinner, or calls daily to see what you are up to is more a made for tv movie script than reality. That bundle of early joy in your belly who you worked hard raising turned into a self absorbed creature who has no idea that you prefer hiking to driving, hate cooking dinner, and love to read mystery novels.
I ain’t no expert in this here field…

But I do know there are a couple of reasons why children are not close or interested in you.
1. If, like me, the mother or caretaker role dominated, your other roles in life took a back seat. This happens often, particularly if you lacked a mother role to emulate. The “mommy” becomes bigger than the part of you who is simply you. It became all consuming because you didn’t understand that mom’s have boundaries too. This is particularly true if you are raising challenging kids who tend to require more of you. It’s not fair. It’s simply the way it is. For me, I was the shrew, the lion tamer, the servant, the boss, the caretaker. There was no time for the real me. I was whatever was what was needed at the time, and who I thought I needed to be to parent challenging children.
The lightness of being me never had a chance to be seen.
Which does a disservice to you, me and the kids. They never have a chance to know what I thought was funny without the wine. Do they know you prefer tulips over roses? Or slapstick comedy makes you cringe? Or some days, you want to kick your boss and hug your dog? Probably not.
The lesson here is shed the SHOULD in parenting and just do you. They need to know what makes you angry and that your position is not a sliding bar based on your struggles to manage them or control their responses. I made that mistake more than once. I didn’t know how to stand my ground and have strong boundaries. Instead I tried to placate potentially explosive situations. On the odd occasion when I wouldn’t back down, my kids were confused. Wait…where did the real mom go?
Kids who know their parents boundaries, know their parents.
2. If you spend more time managing your children, rather than telling them how you feel, they will also tend not to be too interested in you. Avoidance will be their modus operandi. But know it’s not too late to tell your kids how you feel about the election, covid, the color purple. Anything that reveals tidbits of you. Surprise the hell out of them. There is still time to show them your silly side, or what you get passionate about.

3. Here’s another little something to consider. Your kids don’t seem to be interested in you because they simply aren’t. It’s not mean spirited. It means that they have very different interests than you. They like Dungeons and Dragons and you like carpentry. They are sedentary creatures and you are active. They are anti social and a little shy and you are outgoing and chatty. The key here is to enjoy them being them! It teaches them to do the same with you.
Then again….

We are who we are because of our gene pool. Sure environment has plenty to do with it, but that wiggly white thing that shot up your vajayjay came with a plan and destiny that predetermined their interests and them. It may or may not include you. Which is all the more reason to be you, and all the more reason not to fight who they are by insisting they know you. Besides, we all have our own version of who someone is-real, fabricated, or an outright lie.