Briggs: Should a mom change for kids?I have a greeting card pinned to the bulletin board near my desk at work. It’s one of those cards where they take a goofy old black and white photo and add a funny caption. This one is of a gawky looking woman holding a child’s hand while doing some sort of chorus girl kick. The caption is: “Embarrassing my children … just one more service I offer.”
By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM
I have a greeting card pinned to the bulletin board near my desk at work. It’s one of those cards where they take a goofy old black and white photo and add a funny caption. This one is of a gawky looking woman holding a child’s hand while doing some sort of chorus girl kick. The caption is: “Embarrassing my children … just one more service I offer.”
This card speaks to me. I realize I embarrass my children. I joke that I enjoy it. The truth is I really don’t. I just can’t help myself. That’s why I’m asking for your help with my parenting dilemma.
I’m trying to figure out just how much I should change my behavior just because my children want me to.
I know I’m not alone in this question. I have a friend who calls herself both a “Birthday Party Fanatic” and “fun momma.” She just posted photos of herself and some of her friends at her daughter’s princess birthday party. She dressed like Cinderella while a couple of other moms dressed like the evil stepsisters. I love it! But I’m guessing some of the children were mortified. My friend says they’re hoping for a group rate on therapy.
I did something similar a few Halloweens ago before my children knew they should be embarrassed by me. They dressed like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella while I dressed like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” (my husband refused to be the beast or Gaston, but that’s another story). A picture of our “Princess Halloween” still sits in their bedroom, and it’s one of my all-time favorites.
But now as my girls approach their late elementary school years, they don’t think it’s so cute anymore. They specifically asked me – No, told me – not to dress up for Halloween. I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. I really don’t. But I can’t help but resent the heck out of them telling me what to do. I’m the mom here, right?
But then again, I should be selfless, right? Sacrifice my desire to be a goofball for one night to make them happy, right?
See, I’m really torn. Part of me thinks my kids need to know that they should be comfortable being who they choose to be. For me, that’s being a big old weirdo anytime I feel like being a big old weirdo.
I want my girls to be comfortable in their own skin, but I also know the reality of the junior high years ahead. Parents are just really embarrassing people, even if they’re just dropping off their kids at the front door. It’s not like I’m going to go all Harper Valley PTA on them; wearing tube tops and thigh boots to parent-teacher conferences. But can I still be a “fun momma?”
All is not lost quite yet. A couple of weeks ago, I took my daughters to The Forum’s “Girls Night Out.” Event goers had the option of getting “diva” pictures taken complete with feather boas and bling. I was game, and I even managed to talk my younger daughter into it. She seemed to enjoy it as much as me. (Maybe she’s a future “fun momma” herself?)
However, my older daughter, almost 10, looked like she wanted to crawl under the table as her sister and I posed. She later told me I looked like a pink chicken. (See the photo below.)
I’m in for some very long junior high years.
Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and is an employee of Forum Communications Co.