My Kids Are Embarrassed by Me
It's amazing how time changes things. When my daughters were little, it didn't matter if I hadn't showered in a week, wore no make-up, or took them to the store wearing pajama pants and a paint-stained sweatshirt (not that I ever actually did that!) My kids just LOVED me and that thought that I was the most beautiful person in the world.
Then suddenly they get a little age on them and they pay attention to every minor detail of my existence. They say things like, “Are you really going to wear that?” or “Did you shower today?” or “Will you please not say anything dumb in front of my friends?” (Which by the way, anything and everything parents do or say is ‘dumb' according to kids over the age of 10.)
So it seems that my motherhood powers have turned from being the eraser of all evil, the bringer of all joy – to the sole root of their embarrassment.
On one hand, I think that this gives me quite a bit of power over them. Just the other day I told them that if they didn't get off their lazy butts and do their chores that I was going to show up at their school bra-less, wearing thermal underwear and flip-flops. Yet, on the other hand, I have to admit that ME being the source of embarrassment stings a little too. How can these kiddos that adored me so much to begin with suddenly shudder at the thought of me embarrassing them?
In order to reconcile with this new emotion, I revisited memories of my yesteryear. Truth is, I can remember feeling ashamed of or embarrassed by my own parents. In hindsight I feel guilty about this. When I talked to a good friend mine the other day, she said that growing up she was embarrassed by her mother because she was severely overweight. And, yet another friend, just last week admitted that her daughter brought her to tears by shunning her in front of her 5th grade classmates when she showed up at a school party.
In reality, the way our children ebb and flow from us like the gentle tides of the ocean are only natural.
We spend so much time discussing how to make our children independent – encouraging them to walk at a year old, sending them off to the big world of pre-school at 2 or 3, and taking pride all in their independent accomplishments when they are little, yet feel heavy hearted when they actually do pull away from us. Reality says we cannot have it both ways.
The good news, however, is that like the ocean they will come back to us. It may not be in front of their friends, and they may not want us to invade their personal space, or be their ‘social partners,' during the formative school years – but they will come back to us in the confines of our homes. And hearts.
My advice, which is likely based on survival at this point, is to remind your children that you respect them enough to NOT purposely embarrass them (unless of course it is used as a form of punishment). And then remind them that no matter what, you are their family, and that you will remain a part of their life and that they have to respect YOU as well.
Are your kids becoming more aware of your every little move, sniffle, and fart as they get older? Do you ever embarrass your children? How do you handle this new phase of parenthood?
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