Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Smother May I? By Melinda L. Wentzel

NOTE FROM SUSAN: As a Mother’s Day treat, I have a column by humor writer Melinda L. Wentzel about her tendency to be overprotective! Melinda wrote this column about a year ago when her daughter was about to venture out into the big, bad world -- to run some errands. Judging by Melinda’s typical helicopter-mom reaction, you’d think her daughter was traveling halfway across the world! But that’s part of being a mom -- always worrying about our kids, whether they’re going skydiving or merely trying to buy some food. Happy Mother’s Day!

Smother May I?
By Melinda L. Wentzel

Someone hand me a machete. Some scissors. Nail clippers. Anything! Puuuuleeeeez! I am in desperate need of said sharp-ish devices so that I might finally, and for all eternity, sever the apron strings that bind me inextricably to my eldest daughter, now 21.

To be clear, she is not to blame. It is I. I am the foolish one -- the insanely overprotective, nurture-obsessed fusspot-of-a-mother who simply won’t let go of her woman-ish child to save herself. It is entirely possible that I need therapy. Admittedly, I have issues. Serious issues with mothering. Or, more correctly, smothering.

Just last week, in fact, I gave the poor kid some money and asked her to run some errands for me, ones that would involve d-r-i-v-i-n-g somewhere, p-a-y-i-n-g for things and actually i-n-t-e-r-a-c-t-i-n-g with people. Imagine that. At any rate, from the moment she left until she returned a short time later, I was filled completely with a host of irrational fears, some of which involved the very real possibility of being abducted by aliens, being whisked away by a man in a monkey suit and, of course, being suddenly stricken with dementia -- in which case she’d wander the earth interminably searching for that which she couldn’t remember anyway.

Naturally (and as expected), I also obsessed over dreadful car crashes she might have, navigational nightmares she could experience, and the legions of unsavory characters with bad teeth and mismatched socks she was sure to encounter during said perilous journey to town. Never mind all the road trips to urban destinations she’s made without the benefit of mappish entities (i.e., the countless times she’s made me DERANGED WITH PANIC for not having enough sense to take along a fricking MAP of metro D.C.). Grok!

Further, I became gravely concerned that she might not remember to pick up the book I so desperately needed for comic relief that day (Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay), she would forget to count the change to make sure it was right and, by some strange twist of fate, her ability to string coherent sentences together like, “My mom ordered this book. I’m here to pick it up,” would be lost forever, leaving her at the mercy of bookstore employees who would then send her packing with an obscenely pitiful piece of literature just to clear the aisles of derelicts and whatnot.

Needless to say, none of the abovementioned horrors came to fruition. But that is not to say they couldn’t have. Because they could have.

I’m just saying….

To be sure, I sent my dear child out into the big, bad world armed with that which I deemed necessary for survival: a Ziploc baggie with enough cash, a detailed list of the stops I had planned for her (complete with street addresses and suggestions for where to park), coins for the meter and a reminder that she should call with the least little question or concern -- like forgetting how to breathe, for instance. It’s a wonder I didn’t hand her milk money and tell her to look both ways before crossing the street -- something my husband swears I whispered in her ear on the day she left for college.

I did no such thing. At least not that I can readily recall.

It’s true. I have issues with letting go and must fight the urge each and every day to position a safety net beneath her wherever she might venture. She’s not two anymore, despite how vividly I remember that period in time. The way she twisted and twirled her hair (or mine) when she grew tired and longed to be rocked. Her well-worn thumb planted securely between those pouty lips. Those blue-gray eyes framed by a thicket of lashes -- lashes that lay like petals on her sweet face only yesterday.

Indeed, only yesterday.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (feeling wistful these days). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com.

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel





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