I served lunch at my daughter’s school the other day, and when she spotted me she ran over and gave me a big hug. It makes her happy when I help out. I was there to pitch in — but mostly, I wanted to spy on her. As I doled out pasta and grilled cheese, I watched her chat with friends, braid a girl’s hair and hug another. I loved seeing her interacting with her school buddies, not something to which I’m usually privy.
My children have no idea that I am a Stalker Mom.
At night, I sneak into the kids’ rooms and watch them sleep, relishing the peaceful looks on their faces and their sweet sighs (and the fact that nobody is whining).
I sometimes read my daughter’s emails.
I hover outside the doorway of my son’s bedroom when he’s playing there.
When they are hanging out in the basement, I stand at the top of the stairs and listen in on their conversation.
I have been known to drop by both their schools and peer through the one-way glass in the doors to their classrooms.
After I drop off my daughter at lacrosse practice, I hide in the bushes to watch her play.
I don’t feel badly about any of this. My love for my children is consuming, and I want to know and understand all of them. Is that so wrong?
Stalker Moms are different than Helicopter Moms in that we are not necessarily over-controlling, overprotective, over-perfecting or over-anything. We just want to know what our kids are up to. Or as my sister likes to say, “Since I don’t have X-ray vision into my kid’s head, snooping is the next best thing.”
There are several reasons I do this, none having to do with trust. My daughter’s new at email and I occasionally check hers just to make sure she’s using it safely, interacting only with friends. We’ve had discussions about it, and so far, the messages are all of the “I can’t wait till our sleepover” cuteness variety. As for my son, he has special needs and speech issues and when he’s in his room, he’s been known to speak sounds I never otherwise hear. This is important intelligence gathering; when I know that he is capable of articulating certain sounds, I can report back to his speech therapists and further encourage him to make them, too.
When my kids are together, I like to see how they get along. As we all know, siblings behave differently when they’re out of their parents’ earshot. My daughter can be dismissive of her brother when we’re hanging out as a family, but when the two of them are alone, she’s likely to be super-sweet with him. Like when they’re playing on the Wii I’ll hear her say: “Here, Max, you need to hold the remote this way to throw the javelin!” and I’ll melt a little.
Otherwise, I am just genuinely curious about what my kids do and how they behave when they’re away from me. What’s happening in their inner lives? How do they interact with the teacher in class? How do they do during team sports and activities? Teachers and coaches can tell you lots, of course, but there’s nothing like seeing your kid in action with your own two eyes — and feeling the pride about what they’re doing flow through you. My stalker tendencies also have to do with the fact that I don’t get home from work until around 7:00 PM; a part of me feels that I am missing out on chunks of their lives, and have some catching up to do.
I learned how to be a Stalker Mom from the best of the best: My mother. Actually, she didn’t even stalk — she was downright blatant about observing me and my sister. I can still picture her sitting on our living room couch watching me draw or write. I can hear her making observations like, “I love how silly you get when you’re on the phone with friends!” As I grew up I found the attention exasperating, which is exactly why I’m discreet about it with my own children. Now that I’m a mother myself, though, I appreciate just how adoring and attentive she’s been. Well, except for the time when she was chatting with my assistant at the office and she asked her if I’d had a healthy lunch.
When my kids want privacy, they get it — I’m fine with them closing the doors to their rooms. As my daughter gets older, I’ll stop checking her emails. For now, though, I am acutely aware that their childhood is speeding by, and I am going to take in as much of it as I can. If there’s anything I’m guilty of here, it’s that I’m greedy about savoring my children too much.
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