Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Overprotective Mom

I am pondering a comment that M made to me today. First, some background. The girls' bus stop is at the end of our street. It's not a far walk, but it is a walk. I can see the corner from our house if I look out an upstairs window. All through elementary school, we (either B or me or both, depending on our schedules) walked the girls down to the bus stop each morning and met them there each afternoon. If it was raining or cold, we drove them down. We waited with them until the bus picked them up each day.
Starting in middle school, we still went with them in the mornings (usually I was meeting my neighbor to go walking after they got on the bus), but we let them walk home by themselves in the afternoon. I still pick them up if the weather is bad. In 7th grade they started going up to the bus stop themselves, but I watch from the window. So far for 8th grade, they are going on their own and I still watch from the window. But if I am going out at the same time the bus comes, say to yoga or the gym, I drive up at the bus stop with them.
I have to know that they get on the bus safely. It's just a thing with me. I just can't rest easy unless I know they're on their way. Sometimes the bus schedule is erratic. On more than one occasion the bus has been late, or not come at all, and I've had to drive the kids to school.
For another thing, our neighborhood is swarming with contractors every morning. It seems every other house has a landscaper, painter, carpenter, tiler, exterminator, roofer or other worker at their house during any given day. That's a lot of strangers in and out of the neighborhood. It makes me a little nervous sometimes. So I just like to have a visual that the kids get on the bus.
There is only one other kid at our bus stop. Since 3rd grade, she has always come to the bus stop alone. Her parents leaves for work before the bus comes. If it's raining or cold, she stands in the rain or cold unless we invite her to sit in the car with us. And yes, I have driven her to school with the girls when the bus never arrived.
Well, M mentioned that this girl, said, "My mom said that the reason your mother is so overprotective is because you are her only kids."
?????? I'm so overprotective? Because I make sure they get off to school in the morning? This mother doesn't know anything about me except that I occasionally wait with the kids at the bus stop! The girls have never socialized with this particular girl because, well frankly, they don't like her. Back in 3rd grade, she and M had some conflict - she actually hit M during a kickball game in PE. And her lack of self control is still evident in 8th grade. The first week of school, she took a writing assignment out of another boy's notebook on the bus and proceeded to tease him about it and then rip it to shreds.
I'm going to be stewing about this all day. I don't know why I'm letting it bother me. I know that I'm not overprotective. We give the girls plenty of age-appropriate freedom. But we do insist that we know where they are (generally the swim club or a friend's house) and that they have a cell phone with them.
I feel like this mother is in judgement of me somehow. It's that old working mom vs. stay-at-home mom defensiveness. That somehow she is saying "She has nothing better to do than be neurotic about her kids" because I start my mornings by getting them off to school even though they're 13. That she is critcizing my parenting in some way.
Okay :::::::inhale:::::::exhale:::::::: I have better things to do than worry about this. Like pick up L during her lunch bell and take her to get a smoothie because her jaw is aching from her orthodontic work and she can't chew. And call the school district office and order a copy of their English text book so they don't have to cart that mammoth hardback book back and forth to school. And work on the PTA newsletter.


melissa said...

Well, Pam, if you're in the overprotective camp, I'm right there with you! This is the first year I haven't been able to see C from our house as she waits for the bus. Dh if home when she leaves and he watches for her to get on from our driveway. I think (this is JMHO) that the mom is criticizing you out of her guilt for not doing what she SHOULD be doing, which is looking out for her child's safety. I don't understand how she can be gone w/o knowing her child is safely on the bus. She could even ask you if you wouldn't mind watching, since you are watching already. And she could at least thank you for keeping her daughter warm and dry and giving her a ride! Don't worry about what that mom says or thinks. You are totally doing the right thing.

Lori - The Simple Life at Home said...

Pam, it sounds like she's trying to justify her own lack of concern. Sometimes when we are feeling guilty, making someone else look bad takes that sting away. And especially when it comes to our kids. My advice - shake it off, knowing that the woman knows NOTHING about you and is in no position to make any kind of comments about you. What she said is truly coming from a place of ignorance (as in a lack of knowledge, not stupidity). Let it go. You have better things to think about.

Anonymous said...

Well I think she is just being short sighted. I am a working mom, and I still take my children to school or the bus and wait for them every day - morning and night - and they are in high school (I make certain my work schedule coincides as much as possible). Yes, they have lots of age appropriate freedoms, but they are never so far from me that I cannot at least attempt to anticipate something they may not. After all, God gave them to me for a short time (it's never long enough for me) and it's my JOB to ensure that they are attended to - whatever that means! Society allows people to justify lots of things as normal and many of us as 'overprotective' when we are simply responding to the calling we have as MOMS!