My kids say that I have a ‘crazy’ streak. They don’t see it often. Mostly it comes out when I’m putting our ‘fake house’ together about a half hour before company comes over. They call it ‘cleaning mom mode.’ I go around clearing counters and the kitchen table. Hiding piles of papers that have accumulated over the school year. Clearing corners of shoes and other non-essentials stripped off after coming in the door. Returning pillows and throw blankets to a casually-tossed, shabby-chic ambiance in the family room. I create the ‘fake house’ that I want people to think is where we live. ‘Cleaning Mom Mode’ is nowhere near ‘Psycho Mom.’
We need to establish a difference between ‘psycho moms’ and ‘psycho mom moments.’ I wouldn’t call myself a ‘psycho mom.’ I tend to meet challenges in parenting evenly and rationally. I tend to … at least on the surface. However, I do have moments when my kids cross a line that infuriates me and I react–not respond.
Before my kids became grown-up (well, I could debate whether they really are grown-up….), I enjoyed the position of playing God. That magical time ended about the time they could speak and learned ‘NO!’ But the few short years that they had to go where I went, hang out with those I let them befriend and go to bed when I determined they needed sleep were blissful. Parenting was easy then. Having a 22 year old, a 19 year old and a 17 year old all living at home complicates parenting boundaries. *sigh* I really don’t want to go back to toddlerhood, but the uncomplicated world of children who get excited over bubbles and squirt guns has its perks.
My 17 year old went out with his at-the-time-girlfriend a few weeks ago. He had just started dating her; and while we had met her, I soon found out just how little we knew about her. I needed to get hold of him because he didn’t know that our state curfew for teens is 10pm during the week (even during the summer) and not midnight, as I had thought. His phone went straight to voicemail … for 2 hours. No answer to the 372 texts I sent. Realizing that I had no idea where he might be or who this girl really is, I went into ‘crazed mom’ mode and quickly plummeted into ‘psycho mom.’ As panic ambushed my rational soul, I took on desperate measures. Because I read murder mysteries and watch cop shows, I consider myself a bit of an expert in detective work. Yep, I’m one of those delusional people. I think that because I’ve seen open-heart surgery on YouTube, I could actually perform that surgery in a crisis. I think we should all pray that I never witness someone having a heart attack. I looked up his girlfriend on Facebook. She has a common last name, so I looked through about 15 pages of the online White Pages trying to figure out where she lived. I remembered that he had told me the general area of town she lived, so I didn’t fly blind in my search. I narrowed it down to three potential houses. Just after midnight (now the curfew he thought he had, he busted … for the third time … the last time had been the night before … yeah, I wasn’t rational anymore) I enlisted the help of my 22 year old.
The conversation went something like:
“No, whatcha need?”
“I need you to help me go get your brother.”
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know for sure, but I’ve narrowed it down.”
“Why do you need me?”
“Someone has to drive the car he’s in back home.”
“Why can’t he do that?”
“Because he’ll be coming home with me.”
That last sentence scared her because I spoke it so slowly and deeply. I don’t think any of my kids had seen my real ‘psycho mom’ moments before that. I never had witnesses until that night.
Thankfully, the first house on my list happened to be her house. I knew this fact because my son pulled onto the street right behind me. He and I had a great
lecture discussion that ended with us hugging it out and assuring him that I loved him and forgave him (there’s more to this story; but it’s already a long one). Suffice it to say, he won’t make that mistake again.
I wonder sometimes if God ever has ‘psycho parent’ moments with us. Oh, I know He’s ‘GOD’ and knows all and has self-control and all that; but when I read the Bible, I see evidence that we can make Him a little crazy–especially with Moses in Exodus 22 when it sounds like Moses is talking God off the ledge, or when Jesus in several Gospel accounts saying it would be better to have a millstone around your neck and drowned if we hurt one of His little ones, or Abraham negotiating with God for Sodom and Gomorrah. I take great comfort in that thought. He loves us that much that we can make Him almost insanely protective. He goes to great lengths to find us and help us see healthier, wiser, better options than the choices we make. He loves us the way I love my kids–only better and more rationally. He doesn’t parent out of fear–which, if we’re honest, that’s what vaults us into ‘psycho’ mode. He holds us that high … He values us that much … He fiercely fights for us … Now, if only we could believe it about ourselves and each other. We need to remind ourselves and each other what each of us is worth!
I talked to Jud the next morning about what happened while he slept. A lot goes on at night with older kids while parents sleep. Which is why I’m grateful that I’m a night-owl and suffer from insomnia. We discussed the appropriate repercussions (for our son, not me), and Jud helped me see that grounding him from ever driving a car and dating again went a little too far. Rationality had returned to me and the moment had passed.
Until my daughter woke up.
She asked Jud if he knew anything about the night before. Thankfully, Jud could say he knew and she didn’t blindside him with her version of my insanity. Her final comment tossed over her shoulder to him as she breezed out the door about what she learned from this incident: NEVER MAKE MOM MAD!!!
Have you had ‘psycho parenting’ moments? What have you learned about yourself in those times?