I knew this day was coming, but somehow I hoped against hope that I’d miss the phase of parenting where I officially became the stupidest mother in America. Sadly, I was wrong.
My husband, who has two daughters from his first marriage, said I should buckle up as our daughter entered the ‘tween years. But up until her most recent birthday, we were sailing along smoothly. Not perfect, of course — no one’s relationship with their children is. But things were pretty good until she turned 12.
Now, of course, I still know that I have the most wonderful daughter on the face the earth (followed VERY closely by my two stepdaughters), but the trying moments of parenthood are becoming more frequent and bigger in scale, thanks to hormones, the influence of classmates and yearning teen anthems from Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift.
All parents go through this phase. So how do I know I’m THE stupidest mom in America?
1. Fashion. Even though I’m mad about politics and policy, I’ve always had a soft spot for fashion. Now, it may not look like it when I pick my ‘tween up from school sporting the very latest in yoga pants, but I have been known to have a Project Runway moment from time to time. But I dare not give my daughter any input on her clothes anymore. Otherwise, those once loved jeans or favorite top are in the giveaway bin.
2. The eye roll. You know you’ve officially crossed over from the realm of educated working woman to know-nothing mom when you get “the eye roll.” It can happen pretty much anytime and be applied for any topic we might be discussing. Like the other day when I mentioned something about her Lemonade Mouth CD, something we both could agree on for carpool listening. Apparently I missed the memo saying Lemonade Mouth was no longer cool among sixth-graders, because I got a serious eye roll over that one.
3. History. No, not the subject they’re studying in school. My history. I know it’s been a couple *cough* of years since I was a teenager, suffering the slings and arrows of adolescence, but I do remember some of the terrors of that age pretty well. But trying to empathize with my daughter over any moment of drama at school is the equivalent of ‘tween torture for her. In her mind, there is no way any of my experiences could shed any light on how to navigate any incident in her life.
4. My hearing. I don’t wear a hearing aid, but my daughter seems to believe I should. She believes that no matter what she says to me, I don ‘t hear her. How do I know this? Because I routinely get the refrain, “No, mom. THAT isn’t what I was saying.” I could have a tape recording of whatever she’s just said and play it back, and she’d still be annoyed at my stupidity and apparent lack of hearing ability, because she was really talking about something else.
5. Irrelevance. Until recently, our daughter thought we were pretty interesting people and fun to hang out with. No more. I understand it’s developmentally appropriate for her to be pulling away and spending more time with her friends. But she thinks we’re crazy to still expect her to be with us some of the time. How could I not understand that as a self-respecting middle-schooler, she can’t be seen with me in public? Clearly, someone sucked the parenting brains out of my head because ALL the other moms understand.
I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons in my daughter’s world that I’m the stupidest mom in America, bar none. But I sleep OK at night, knowing that the other girls she knows are probably assuring her that they are in possession of the stupidest moms!
Joanne Bamberger writes the blog PunditMom, and is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (on sale now at Amazon!), a bipartisan look at how women online will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2012 election! Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
Image via Joanne Bamberger. All rights reserved.
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