Thursday, January 17, 2013

That Mom



That Mom - Stacy Snyder - ParentUnplugged - Progress
I never would have pegged myself as ‘that mom.’  You know the likes of her.  She camps out overnight outside the preschool on the eve of sign up to make sure her kid gets in for the fall season.  She works three devices simultaneously, each cued up and ready to ‘add to cart’ from her Wish List at 9am when the online spring sports registration opens up for the park district.  Or in my case, she shows up two hours early at the rink to ensure her 4-year-old a spot in Winter Tot Ice Skating.

I don’t know how I morphed into the person I’m describing, but it happened without my conscious intention, that’s for sure, as I’m usually the one mocking the over-the-top mothers who go to great lengths to get their kids in pole position.  Yet here I stand with my registration sheet in hand and instructions on the best way to fit my toddler into skates, having scored the last available spot in the class for my kid.

As I sat in assigned spot number 57 among the folding chairs lined up like stadium seating surrounding the check-out desk at the ice rink, I looked around at the other people in line and wondered if they’d always been ‘that person’ that I had clearly become.  Some I recognized, and knew from first-hand experience that without a doubt, they were in it to win it.  Others I studied and tried to figure out their story.  I asked one parent in front of me if she’d ever done this line-up before for an activity for her child, and like me, she said this was a first.  She seemed pretty comfortable in the scenario, and that, coupled with the demure daughter who saddled up next to her whose actions in no way resembled those of Veruca Salt, made me settle more easily into the new role.  

I guess it’s a good lesson for all of us vocal folks who are not shy about adding our two cent’s worth to any discussion involving parenting.  You never know where you’ll end up on issues or whose shoes you’ll end up walking in.  Whether it’s parenting, politicking, doping, or diversifying your funds, your views change over time as you acquire more knowledge and experience more of what life has to offer.

“If it were me, I’d just tell my kid no,” I remember telling another parent a few years ago when my older daughter’s friend’s parents were spending thousands of dollars on competitive cheer for their 5-year-old, while complaining about the expense.

Years later, I may be on the other side of the conversation.  If there’s one thing I know, it’s that change is inevitable.  Situations change.  People change.  Viewpoints change.  As a conscientious people, we evolve constantly.  

Recognizing this point allows me to feel comfortable voicing my strong opinions, whether right or wrong, without worrying too much about backlash from others, because I truly believe we’re all in this together.  My audience of peers, parents, and pipsqueak kids is experiencing the same thing I am.  They’re working their way through situations and events, developing their often-changing opinions as they go.  Nothing ever has to be set in stone.  Yesterday Justin Beiber had the best music on the planet and today Rihanna is the only artist who matters.  Similarly, today I argue the negative example it sets for our kids when parents keep kids home on standardized testing days because they don’t find value in the concept of standardized testing.  Yet next year I may end up keeping my own kids home because of opinions formed while discussing the issue to death this year.  

The point is, for those of us that have or voice opinions on ANYTHING to others, it’s hard to model a moment in time where you’ll think differently down the road.  Yet there’s that little warning signal in the back of our minds, poised and ready to ding when we get so absolute, as we know subconsciously as humans, we will one day change.  It may be an opinion, a hairstyle, a career path, or a station in life, but there is no way of avoiding movement.  So next time you throw out your input on something, do it with gusto.  Make your case, stick to your guns, and bear down on your audience.  Be bold!  But know that as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, at some point you will hold different priorities, opinions, and sticking points than you do today.  Be prepared to eat your words and see how the other half lives.  Be prepared to be ‘that mom.’