November 18, 2006

Tiffany on Obsessive Parenting

Okay, seeing as how I'm up and not quite ready to fry that bacon in the fridge, I'll discuss with you my feelings about Stepford Mommies (mentioned last night). To start, Stepford Mommies and Soccer Moms are not necessarily the same breed. Stepford Mommies almost always have an agenda. Soccer Moms may not necessarily have an agenda, but their zeal may cause them to have unfortunate nicknames (like "cowbell lady" at football games). Stepford Mommies are like "stage mothers" in that they only show up to push and support their own child. Soccer Moms tend to want to support a team.

Some background:

I was raised in a single parent home in rural NC. Specifically, I lived with my grandma. Some of you may know how I got there in the first place, but I don't have the mental stamina to include that story now. The property I lived on was several acres large, handed down trough the generations since right after the Civil War, blah blah blah.

Certain responsibilities go along with living out in the boonies that town kids are often not affected by, mostly involving yard work, clothes lines that were just a wee bit too close to the woods for my comfort, and fixing stuff with inadequate tools. I played in the dirt a lot. Me and the neighbor kids also played a lot of Barbie on my back porch.

We lived at least five miles from my elementary school, four miles from my middle school, and 18 miles from my high school.

When it was time to become involved with all those PTA meetings, band parents associations, and all that crap, my grandma would sometimes attend the meetings, find out what she needed to buy/make/send, and send it to school with me. She didn't sit on boards and make decisions. She didn't have an "agenda" to help get her kid ahead. She just picked me up, dropped me off, and didn't ask a whole lot of questions. That's the way I liked it. (I wasn't the kind of kid who liked being "watched" when put on a stage.) We always had the sort of relationship where if I needed help or for her to participate in something, I'd push her into it, but for the most part, I was a pretty independent kid and wanted to rise above all the riff-raff using my own talents. To be frank, my grandma was an elderly woman (even then) and would rather just take my word for things than sit on bleachers and listen to boring people drone on and on about selling shit to buy new banners for the cafeteria. Been there, done that.

It annoys the shit out of me when people naturally assume that a parent doesn't participate in their kids' activities because they don't care. I'm sure there are many parents who'd like to sit on boards and make decisions but are unable to take the time off work (do you know how long it takes the average American to earn enough money to buy a Big Mac?). Many other parents simply have children (like I was) who would die from shame if their parents helped them in public.

Okay, so what does that have to do with the so-called Stepford Mommies? Well, mostly that they have their kids on such a tight rein that every aspect of their lives is controllable. They tend to guide their children towards activities that may have nothing to do with the child's interests but are based on some trend that the mom feels the child should be a part of. They sit on boards and make decisions that are the best choices for their children, but not necessarily best for the greater group. They feel attacked when "outsiders" make suggestions that are contrary to the status quo. They show up at rehearsals and practices that already have adequate, trained leadership and tell other peoples' kids what to do (I can think of one particular parent during j.v. cheerleading who was always trying to get her heavier-than-average twins on top of the pyramid....ooOooh, that woman burned my biscuits).

Stepford Mommies tend not to research serious issues and merely parrot what their husbands/mother-in-laws/pastors tell them. They gang with others holding the same "beliefs" and attempt to exclude people who wish for them to hear both sides of a story.

If you know anything about me at all, you can assume that I won't be that type of parent. I will bitch and moan and scratch eyeballs out to make sure that my kids are gettng an academically sound education, but unless they ask me to be there, I'm not going to stalk all their extra-curricular activities. That's where kids develop leadership skills and refine their personalities. They don't need me to watch them experimenting and making painful mistakes.

I think I'd rather be known as the "smart" mommy. Until my kid is old enough to say "Mom, can you not come?" I'll be sitting out there with my crappy little camera taking pictures and dabbing my eyes with snotty Kleenex.

Posted by Tiffany at November 18, 2006 12:29 PM | TrackBack

I wish more parents thought like you... welcome aboard... don't forget to buckle up, it gets bumpy but will be the thrill of a lifetime.

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