Long before Amy Chua’s book introduced the Tiger Mom to the masses, I would say that I was a Tiger Mom even though I was not raised with a strict Chinese upbringing, nor did my parents threaten to haul away my favorite toy to the Salvation Army if I didn’t perfect my clarinet scales. Notwithstanding this “lax” upbringing, I find that I have quite a few characteristics of parents who not only want what is best for their kids but who work, and have their kids work hard, to make sure that they are the best.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that my kids are any better than any other kids, but I do have expectations for my kids based on what I know of them and their individual strengths and weaknesses. I expect that they will do their best in school. I expect that they will be at the top of their classes. I expect that they will do some sort of extracurricular activities. During the summer, in addition to all of the fun that we have planned (and I really do make a big effort for them to be able to enjoy their summers), I assign my own projects for them to do in addition to our library’s summer reading program, and the math packets that their school sends home.
So, when my daughter, Marlee, wrote a poem about me as part of her second grade poetry tea a couple of days ago, it should have come as no surprise that while other kids were describing their mothers as “towers of love,” “the prettiest rose in the patch,” and “a beacon of caring,” that my daughter described me as “a ferocious lion of educational meaningfulness.” As I was listening to her ode to her feline predator of a mother, it made me reassess how Marlee perceives me as her mom.
It is clear that Marlee understands all of the expectations that I have for her, but does she really understand how much I love her and do I do a good job of making sure that she knows that she is loved, cared for, and safe with me? The fact that she described me as a ferocious lion was no surprise to those who know me but it was still a little unsettling. I know I am not the type of mother who oozes syrupy cotton candy and bubble gum, but I certainly don’t want mt kids to think of me solely as an educational drill sergeant. My kids are bright, fun, and energetic ,and I don’t want to squelch any of that with all of my educational meaningfulness.
That is why as we are about to start our summer vacation I am vowing to make a concerted effort to not just tell my kids that I love them, but to show them that I do as well. Seeing myself through Marlee’s eyes was a huge “mompiphany” moment. The funny thing is that when she asked me to play the Wii this afternoon, my first response was to say no and suggest that she read or do something else. But tonight I agreed to let her play. Her eyes got wide, and I could tell that she was surprised and happy. Hopefully if she writes a poem about me next year it will be a little more warm and fuzzy. Meow!