Smothering Mother

My girls (13 & 13 1/2) are at a new developmental stage.  Womanhood is peeking in and yet they are still kids.   I wish for them to be helpful, kind, independent and assertive young women one day but I often wonder if I’m always the best example.  To circumvent my short-falls I enlist my close friends.  I hope that if the kids don’t feel comfortable about asking Mike or I about something they will go to someone I trust.  It’s just a theory and I’m banking my daughters futures on it.

Many years ago when they wanted to dress like me, and kiss me, and snuggle me.

Many years ago when they wanted to dress like me, and kiss me, and snuggle me.

When they were younger I was there to watch over them (even if it was to witness them falling on their faces).  I’m not always there now but I have to resist the urge to hover (smother?).  By the time I was their age I had many opportunities to be on my own;  from walking to school to being at home while my parents were at the store.  These were magical times for me.  If I ran into trouble I had to figure out a solution on my own.  In the community I live in now alone time is perceived as near child abuse by some.  ( kind of like going on vacation with your Irish Setter…) OK, OK, maybe not so funny but this is coming from a girl who spent weeks on the open road in the back of an open pick up truck when I was 12.

The fear about what potentially could happen to kids left to their own devices is usually based on anecdotal stories rather than facts.  That said there are challenges out there for sure.  Growing up we had pedophiles and pervs that would try and convince kids to get in their cars.  Nothing ever came of it (call it luck).  In the nearly 10 years we’ve lived here we’ve  had a few incidents.  Some more scary than others.  One was two 5th grade girls ditching school.  Someone saw the girls walking around, realized school was in and the girls were out,  picked them up and promptly returned them to school.  The Sheriff was looking for them along with the school and most of the neighborhood by that point.  I was thankful that this woman had the chutzpah to stick her nose in and pick up the girls.  It was nice to see the community pull together so quickly.

The second (much scarier) incident happened to Pistol’s school mate.  She got off the bus and a man drove up to her and tried to drag her into the car.  She escaped kicking and screaming while a woman who saw what was going on from her bedroom window called the cops.  They never caught him.  Mike and I talked to the girls about it.  I conceded that I was totally freaked out.  I didn’t let Pistol ride the bus home for the next month.

I’m at a pivotal point where I’m making decisions on when it’s appropriate for them to be more independent.  It’s scary.  I can remember my first roommate in college.  She had never been allowed to  go out on her own in high school.  Predictably she was partying hard by day one of college.  I’m not saying I was a saint.  There are times in high school I was lucky I didn’t get into (more) trouble.  But I do think I had a sense of responsibility (maybe just the seeds) from having some independence.

We teach both of the girls  preparedness.  What to do in the event of a fire or a if stranger tries to pick you up.  I don’t think one can ever be fully prepared.  The world out there is the most tempting, exciting, scariest ball of wax ever.  I’m equally looking forward to and dreading the day they step out on their own.

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