One of the most interesting things about being both a mother and a daughter is the feeling of being caught in the middle. Now the relationship between mothers and daughters is a post in and of itself; but I truly believe that when a daughter becomes a mother herself, that dynamic changes significantly- sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, most times a little of both. On the positive side, when I became a mother, my own mother seemed a lot less crazy. I’m sure this sounds like a left-handed compliment, but my mom and I have discussed this countless times and she agreed that most kids think their parents are residents of Crazy Town.
As children we do not view our mother as a person. She is not a woman. She is not a wife. She is not some one’s friend, sister, aunt, niece, etc. Mom is simply mom. More accurately, she is “my mom.” It’s a lot like our view of teachers. When I taught middle school my students were stunned into silence when ever they saw me in public- the movies, the grocery story, the gas station, anywhere. They would gape at me like I was on display at the local natural history museum. The worst was when I would see them in any sort of social situation like the movie theater. They were completely perplexed as to why I could possibly be anywhere they would deem “cool” or “fun” or “hip.” I remember sitting in the theater with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and hearing the perpetual giggle behind me. I turned to my lovely students and said, “Ladies, I am not a troll. I don’t live under a bridge. Nor do I live in my classroom. I am just like you. I have a home, friends, a boy friend and, yes, I go to the movies. Now carry on.” Unfortunately, the giggling continued (I think they were waiting to see if DH and I would make out in the dark. So maybe I’m not just like them.)
Anyway, the whole “us and them” mentality also exists much the same way when defining our view of our mothers. They made us. They gave birth to us. Therefore, they live for us. Am I wrong? My kids certainly think I live for them. And no matter how hard I try to prove them wrong they just will not be swayed. But once I became a parent and not just some one’s child, I suddenly saw that I am a lot like my mom- for better or for worse. Because my mom was “just a mom” in my eyes, I felt like I never really understood her. She seemed to get mad when I thought something wasn’t really a big deal. She got frustrated when I was simply doing what kids do. And Lord knows she just didn’t “get me.” Boy was I wrong. The things that seemed so insignificant were often the straw that broke the camel’s back. I see that now because I, too, am loaded down with straw. And when my boys commit a somewhat minor infraction it takes everything I have not to completely lose my s*!t. Sure, arguing about what video to watch doesn’t seem like something to flip my lid over; but when they’ve also spent the last 45 minutes arguing about everything from soup to nuts, and I’ve just sat down for 5 minutes of peace after running 10 errands, doing 2 hours of work and 3 hours of Room Mom responsibilities… that little argument over Scooby Doo or Tom and Jerry really is a big freakn’ deal. And sure, DS1 is just asking the kinds of questions intelligent, inquisitive kids ask but the last thing I want to do right now is explain why it is important that people vote, or what’s the difference between a black hole and a worm hole in space, or is government good or bad. Yes, these are the types of questions I am asked. All day. Every day. Beginning at around 7:00 a.m. And apparently, DS1 is exactly like I was when I was young. Mom, I will forever be apologizing because in reality I just didn’t “get” you- not the other way around.
So that’s the positive of being a daughter-turned-mother: I totally understand my mom now. Her reactions, her words, her fears, her concerns all make perfect sense. The downside to being a daughter-turned-mother? I know for a fact that my own kids think I’m crazy and it will be many years before they even begin to “get” me. I feel like I want to constantly tell them “I’m not crazy! You just don’t understand me! Just wait! Stop looking at me like I’m insane! Stop thinking of all the ways I’m ruining your fun! In 20 years you’ll be thanking me for all the work I’ve done.” But, alas, I can not do that. Like me, they will come to these realizations on their own. God I hope they come to these realizations on their own because that is the validation all moms are looking for.
Well, today I am pleased to announce to all of you that my own mother has been vindicated. In fact, this post should rightfully be called “Ha! I told you so!” Because another drawback to being a daughter-turned-mother is the smack in the face realization, that more often than not, your mother was right; and you in fact didn’t know diddly.
As I’ve shared with you before, both my parents (but more so my mother) have certain reservations about the Internet. Now they are pretty technically-savvy people. They both still work in a world that is technology-laden and are quite successful. (I won’t tell you what they do or even what field they’re in because my mom might freak out about sharing information on the Internet. See what I mean?) So although they use email, the Internet, texting, cell phones, etc. they are not comfortable with places like Facebook or MySpace- does anyone go on there anymore? They don’t do a lot of Internet shopping. They don’t like their grand kids to play Internet games. Those are a few of the Grandma and Grandpa Internet No-No’s. Interestingly, however, one of the biggest things that worries my mom about the Internet is the sharing of photographs. She was mildly disturbed when ever I emailed a naked or somewhat naked picture of one of the boys when they were babies. “You never know what kind of pervert has access to these things,” she would say. Of course I would just snort and roll my eyes in that “OK, whatever mom” kind of way that is reminiscent of my teenage years. I mean really, what are the chances that a pedophile is trolling my account on Shutterfly hoping to find a picture of DS1’s booty post-bath, right? Talk about over reacting…
Well, right about now my mom should be doing a victory dance while chanting, “Suck it! I told you so!” because today I found a very disturbing article on the Internet about just that- not pedophiles, but online tracking companies whose soul purpose is to gather information- all kinds of information, including your name, email address, shopping history, website visitation, and… certain PICTURE SERVICES. Now, this is a far cry from a disgusting pedophile sitting at home searching for pictures of my little darlings; but the technology is there. Literally, this company is using your name that they obtained to tap into your Internet use and create database files on you.
The article is very well-written and certainly provides much food for thought. I HIGHLY recommend you read it (click here).
Now the point of this post is not to create wide-spread, or even narrow-spread, panic. This is definitely something about which we need to be aware. As you will see in the article, you can go to this particular company’s site and have your name blocked from this practice- although I have my doubts about the reliability of that simply based on the fact that I have now created a cyber paper trail with them- but it’s something I’m going to look into tonight. The point of this post is simply this: my mom was right… again. She warned me that the things I put out on the Internet are not as “safe” as I think they are, that simply putting a little password using my dog’s name or my mother’s maiden name is not an iron-clad shield protecting my personal information. She warned me that although my intentions are Innocent- sharing photos, chatting with old friends, avoiding the nightmare that is shopping with a 7 and 4 your old boy- others out there might not be as innocent. They use technology beyond what my little brain can even grasp, gather information about me and sometimes pass it on and on and on to others. Are they evil? No. Will they use that information to hurt me or my family? Probably/hopefully not. But do I want strangers installing a “cookie” on my computer? On another note, do they really need to call it a “cookie”? They have totally defiled an American iconic treat. Geesh! That just adds insult to injury, right?
Here’s the thing, it’s not about telemarketers or online advertising that is slowly but surely infiltrating our lives. It’s not about “big brother” knowing what we are doing with our time and money. Although those are certainly matters to be discussed… It’s about the fact that 20 years ago, when kids wrote their phone numbers or addresses on their book covers or hands, passed notes in class with personal information that were later tossed on the floor of the classroom, or simply said, “No, my parents aren’t home right now” when a stranger called… my mom warned me of one simple fact: You don’t want people you don’t know or barely know to have access to information about you. It’s as simple as that. And here we are, 20+ years later with newer and more technologically advanced “strangers” gaining access to the pieces of our lives. And all I can say is my mom was right, yet again.
My mom is wise beyond her years…
That’s just my normal.