Letting Go of the Wheel

When you are a mom to four children, over time you become accustomed to hearing certain words or phrases. Words and phrases that will leave you no option but to threaten to murder the next person who says either one of them.

There are just certain things you don’t say to the people who are in charge of making sure bad things don’t happen to you.

The phrase I hate the most? “Mom, relax, I got this.” The second most hated? Being told to “chill out.”

I don’t know what ignoramus started the rumor that it was a good idea to say these things to parents (and moms in particular), but this guy needs to be punched in the thorax.

There are just certain things you don’t say to the people who are in charge of making sure bad things don’t happen to you. You know why? We start to care less about your safety because you’re kind of being a jerk.

Case in point.

Don’t tell your mom that you “got this” if you’re in the following predicament:

1. Your head is currently stuck between two staircase railings.

Here’s a question for you to ponder while you’re in the midst of “getting this.” Was it easy to cram your head through the railings going in? And are you being paid a large sum of money, like on a dare? Because if the answer is no to either of these questions I’m not sure you've “got this” or anything else.

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2. You got a speeding ticket and failed to show up in court because you were just “too exhausted” to go. And because “no one goes the speed limit on that road—why is the speed limit 50 anyway?”

I hope you don’t mind the color orange and you better develop a liking to bologna. Relax, bologna tastes just like a rolled-out hot dog. You’ll be fine.

3. You stayed up until 3 a.m. the night before your college SAT to catch up on what’s going on with the Kardashians.

Your eyes are practically glued shut, and you just put your clothes on inside-out. You denied my offer to make you eggs and toast and instead are chugging a Red Bull. Good luck getting that early acceptance letter. Hope everything is OK with the Kardashians.

4. You got your navel pierced (without discussing with mom first, mostly because you were afraid she would think it was a bad idea) by a guy who does piercings in his mom’s garage.

Gee, I wonder why mom would think this wasn’t such a great idea. Now your belly button is the color of asparagus, and there’s some questionable oozy gunk (that smells like rotten eggs) coming from the giant hole in your abdomen. Do I think you should go to the doctor? I don’t know if I would trust my judgment. Too bad this wasn’t an episode of Gossip Girl. But no worries. I’m sure you've “got this.” I’ll just be over here “chilling out.”

5. You brought your wallet that had all of your leftover Christmas money and birthday money and tooth fairy money in it to the beach. It was just a little over $140. You thought maybe perhaps you’d find something to buy. At the beach. You got up to go play in the water with your little brother, and when you returned, your wallet was missing.

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I told you it wasn’t a good idea to bring that much money to the beach. I’m sad that all your money is gone and yes I appreciate the hysterics, but in my head I just added a check mark on the score card titled "Mom Was Right Again."

Listen, I hate watching my kids suffer through events I know they easily could have avoided if they had only listened to me. It’s like when you ride in the front passenger seat with your teenager while he drives for the first time. You have the overwhelming urge to reach over and take control of the wheel. It’s the worst twenty minutes of your life. You think the second you give up control, something bad is going to happen. And I think as a mother, that’s my worst fear.

Over time, you feel less and less like taking control of the wheel, but if you had your way they would all still be sitting in the backseat strapped into car seats.

It’s hard for me to let go and trust my children to take care of themselves, but probably not for the reasons my kids think. When my kids start making decisions for themselves (and even suffer through the consequences of those decisions) it’s one fewer moment in their lives they need me.

Well, except when they need money. At what age do they start saying, “Relax, mom, I got this. Here, I’ll pay for yours too.”? Or “Chill out, mom. Put your wallet away. I got this.”?

I’m guessing we’re nowhere near that stage in life yet, huh? I mean, if it even exists.

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