Ode to Executive Mamas of College Students

Despite all advice that says you should avoid topics like children and finances and “have fun with each other,” when you’re out with your husband, you spend most of the time talking about:

  • Which elementary/middle/high school would provide the best education, tap into the child’s talents, and would be a safeplace with no (ok, fewer than the others)bullies and drugs
  • The benefits of organic food and which sunscreens are listed on the “not likely to cause cancer list”
  • Your thoughts on: immunizations, orthodontists, piano teachers, summer camps, ACT prep courses, car safety ratings, curfews, bedtime, grades
  • And then your thoughts on: teaching values, religion, civic engagement, how to treat people, how to resolve conflict, the importance of writing thank you notes– especially to grandparents
  • The logical outcome of behaviors:  is the reward/punishment equal to the behavior?  Does good grades=riding lessons?  Twisting the truth=taking away cell phone?
  • How to maximize the overlap of inviting friends we like and friends the child likes to play date/birthday party/ski vacation/graduation party
  • What to say during a parent-teacher conference to the math teacher who is allegedly “not explaining derivatives at all” so that the teacher doesn’t feel attacked but you get to the bottom of the derivatives issue
  • Whether it is better to forbid the relationship with the weird, won’t-make-eye-contact, boyfriend or if forbidding it would just make it last longer.  (The answer changes between 14 and 18, as does the boyfriend.)
  • How to help the child uncover their light inside and let it shine
  • Whether we are helping or hindering the shining of said light
  • What to do to be better parents so the child becomes a courageous, confident, person of high character, responsible for their choices and able to support themselves without moving back into our basement at 32

And then . . .The child goes to college.

And gets a tattoo, and pierces their nose, and dyes their hair, but who really cares about
surface stuff like that (as long as they avoid tattooing their neck . . .very difficult to get a job with a tattooed neck); the challenge you’re facing is:  You’re an Executive Mama.  Executive: Decision-making, policymaking, supervisory.  Mama.

And you have no access to health records, grades, friends, boyfriends, what is in the refrigerator, when the adult (!) goes to bed or does their homework or how they treat people or if their behavior aligns with their values, unless said access is granted by said adult.  Who, now that you think about it, does seem happy and is expanding their horizons and learning new things and busting into adulthood with energy and excitement and stories of great adventures and discovery. . .

You’re still the Mama. Channel that “Executive” energy back into the community, your workplace, and letting go of what you’ve thought and talked about for 18 years.  And one day not so far off, the child/adult will most likely emerge as an Executive Mama themselves.

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