The Whine Club
I was going to be the “Cool Mom.” The “Let’s Play Hooky and Eat Ice Cream For Dinner Mom.” Or at least that was the plan.
The cruel reality came crashing down during the COVID pandemic when, against my will, I blurted out to my children the words feared by parents and kids alike: “Because I said so!”
When I was young, I swore I would never be this autocratic. I would listen to my children’s point of view. I would remember what it was like as a kid to want more freedom or to be left alone. But, at some point during the last thirty-plus years, I became my mother.
This got me thinking that there are two separate worlds: the one in my head in which I organize meal plans and definitely don’t get angry with my son but always listen with love. Then there’s the real world in which I forget to buy key ingredients for pizza and instead order one for dinner. The world in which I lose my patience with my teenage son and forget that early adolescence is the time when your kids strive for independence only to find loneliness in their solitude. This doesn’t help at all when he’s in the throes of full-blown rebellion because he can’t have his phone during Zoom class even though that’s been the rule for almost a year.
Because this story plays out generation after generation, I wondered if it’s ingrained in our DNA. Did Neanderthal teenagers rebel against their parents only to be sent to their caves for grunting back disrespectfully? If so, what purpose does this dynamic serve? Is it to teach our children to advocate for themselves? Is it a way for them to separate from parents in preparation for leaving the nest?
Before COVID hit I had the idea to start a monthly Whine Club, a place where moms could come together and vent. Parents often feel alone in their struggles only to find that others are experiencing the same type of turmoil. This was never clearer to me than when I spoke to my sister the other day. I was whining about my son and asked for her advice. Since she’s raised five amazing children who are now adults, she is my go-to resource.
She is five years older than me and got married when she was 21. Our age gap at one time was significant. When I was picking out my prom dress, she was nursing her first child. To an observer, it seemed as if her life was full yet smooth. She and my brother-in-law appeared to seamlessly juggle two full-time businesses while being 110% involved in their kids’ sports, academics, and hobbies. My preconceptions about their seemingly easy lives shattered when she shared some of the challenges they experienced with their eldest daughter. The arguments, the outbursts of anger, the spiteful words and slammed doors. Check. Check. And Check. I was speechless. Since her kids are now lovely and well-adjusted human beings, I listened closely as she shared some sage parenting advice.
The biggest takeaway from our talk was that our job as parents is to just hold the line. By being steadfast and true, we can create bumpers for our children while making sure they know that we love them – no matter what. You can say you hate me; I will still love you. You can slam the door in my face; I will still be here. You can tell me that I don’t understand, and you may be right. But I am your Mom first and foremost.
In fact, somewhere inside of me is a 13-year-old girl who gets it. Maybe that’s why these roles keep repeating themselves throughout the history of mankind. Maybe it’s because we’ve also lived through being teenagers and, on some level, understand the need for lines to be drawn, knowing that when given the chance we don’t always make the best choices.
But who knows the reason for all of this drama? For now, just come here and let me hug you.
Because I said so.