I can never really relate to any of those articles about mom types.
I’m not a helicopter parent because I can hardly get my own
crap done on time, so I definitely don’t have time to do my kids crap. Plus, I
really don’t want to spend every second of the day with my kids. I have been
known to do a load of laundry just so I can get five minutes of peace in the
I’m not one of those Lawnmower parents who mows over every obstacle my kids face. Actually, I believe the only way they are going to learn to succeed is if they fall and pick themselves up. I might give them gentle guidance and say something like “Are you sure you want to lick that metal ice tray?” but, if they don’t take my warning then unless they are in grave danger, I let them learn the hard way.
I am kind of a pushover. I just can’t be strict it’s not in
my nature. I ground my son and five minutes later I walk into his room to find
8 kids crammed onto his bed playing old school Nintendo because he can’t leave
his room and I just can’t bring myself to explain to him that he is missing the
point of being grounded…so I guess I am not a Tiger Mom.
think I want to be one. I hear the term and imagine someone throwing peanut
butter sandwiches out into a yard without a fence for their children. Ok, I get
that free range parenting isn’t anything like raising free range chickens, but
this picture is easier for me to handle than the idea of a five year old riding
a city bus alone. I’m too scared to ride the city bus alone.
I came across this article on one of my favorite blogs (Fun Mom Doesn’t Live Here) and I
finally identified with a mom type. The writer calls it the “fun mom”. You know
that mom on TV that always has a house full of strange children and she mothers
them all like it’s no big deal and she loves it. I don’t know if I would
describe myself as “fun” but this perfectly describes the dynamic in my house.
I have two sons an 11 year old and a 6 year old. Despite only having two
children there is always somewhere between four and ten kids at my house at all
times. My best friend jokes that I run a free daycare because I always have so
many kids at my house and I will even feed whoever is hungry.
If we take the boys fishing, to the movies, skating,
bowling, to the pumpkin patch, or even to the grocery store there is a good
chance at least one of their friends will want to come too. Their parents give
me strange looks when I say “No, it’s no big deal we love having him around!”
Any of my friends or family who spend time at my house get overwhelmed by the
chaos and ask me why I don’t send all the kids that are not mine home. The
truth for the most part is that I really do love having so many kids around. I
love hearing them laugh and seeing their smiling faces.
The bigger truth is that this is just the way it has always
been. I don’t know any other way. I became the “fun mom” because I had my
oldest son at twenty-one and my life became all about work, finishing school,
and raising my son. My husband and I had several friends and relatives who also
had kids around the time my oldest son was born and these people learned
quickly that they could talk me into watching their kids every weekend while
they went to parties and had a social life because I always had a college paper
to write and I really liked being at home with the kids. Yes, I knew I was
being taken advantage of but like I said I’m kind of a pushover.
Eventually I graduated with three college degrees and we
moved to the suburbs. When we first moved in the neighborhood boys were
surprised that we would let them come in and out as they wanted and that we
kept soda’s and snacks in the house they could just help themselves too. We
filled the house with activities for all the boys like an arcade style
basketball hoop, an air hockey table, and multiple video game systems. My
husband built an in-ground pool with a volleyball net, basketball hoop, and
slide in the backyard. I buy everything in bulk and make meals large enough to accommodate
anyone who might want to eat with us. My grocery bill is insane, sometimes the
chaos drives me nuts, and the mess has to be kept up with constantly or it will
quickly get out of control.
The final confession of a “fun mom” is that I think the world is a scary place.
Childhood isn’t what it used to be when I was little. When kids are at my house
I know they are safe. I might let them lick a frozen ice tray because they didn’t
heed my warning, but they will not lose their innocence. At my house I know all
of the boys can be boys without facing harsh consequences. They can watch scary
movies all night, have water gun fights, make Lego castles, slide down the
water slide head first and not worry about the adult world. I don’t own any
guns (except ones that shoot BBs) they can hurt themselves or each other with.
I don’t have a stocked liquor cabinet they can sneak into. There are no cigarettes
in my purse or drugs in my drawer they can steal. My entire house is kid
We live in a very nice neighborhood, but I also have seen
enough of the world to know that even in nice neighborhoods other parents have
issues. Because I am the “fun mom” my son’s friends will talk to me and my
husband and we keep open lines of communication with them. I know some of them
don’t live in safe homes and it breaks my heart. A few weeks ago my husband was
shown a dagger one kid was keeping in his backpack to “protect himself” with.
We were able to get him the help he needed before he hurt himself or someone
else. Another kid is being raised by a single mom who is working two jobs just
to make ends meet and he doesn’t always have a lot of food at home or anyone
there to make it for him. My open invitation to all my son’s friends for meals
gives this kid a chance to eat a home cooked dinner every now and then instead
of Hot Pocket.
Playing volleyball in the pool or sitting around the dinner
table with my boys and their friends gives my husband and me the unique
opportunity to really get to know who our kids are when they are with their
friends. I find out things about their lives I wouldn’t know if their friends
were not around. I am hoping they continue to feel this comfortable around us
when they are teenagers, because maybe we can help guide them into making good choices.
The other night over tacos I had a good conversation with the older boys about social
media safety. I am aware that they might not always let me into their world,
but they do right now and I use the opportunity to impart whatever wisdom I
might have on them.
Right now all that matters to me is that my sons are safe,
they have a lot of supervised fun, and they are really enjoying their childhood.
I truly believe it takes a village to raise good kids, so Tiger Mom when they
do something wrong… I will totally drag them over to your house so you can
punish the whole group. Helicopter mom, stop on over (but please bring wine)
you can sit right next to the pool the entire time little Johnny is swimming
and I won’t say anything about the fact that he is twelve and doesn’t need those
arm floaties. Lawnmower dad, I promise you don’t need to tighten the slide it
is safely secured into the concrete, but you are more than welcome to come and
check just ignore the kid with his tongue stuck to the ice tray…. I am dealing
with that. Free range parent just go in and help yourself to the peanut butter
and the bread. I have to have that huge fence around my yard because of the
pool, but just pretend like it isn’t there and you will feel right at home.
wine helicopter mom brought….. #lifewithboys
Tiffany O’Connor is a mom to two amazing, energetic, and fearless boys. She is married to her high school sweet heart and has three college degrees. Her hobbies include watching TV shows about zombies, hiding in her hot tub with a bottle of champagne, and writing all about her misadventures parenting in a “man cave” at #Lifewithboys.