Reverse Parental Control

I cracked the screen on my cell phone. (I know, the horror of it all). I was on my treadmill, using the phone for music when it bounced off, hit the floor and cracked the screen. (I considered that a mis-guided hint that I should stop walking on that treadmill. Haven’t been on it since.) I carried that cracked screen phone for a very long time. It still worked. All was fine. Then one day my youngest daughter; adult and married, said they had received notice of a special promotion where I could be put on their family cellular plan, get a new phone, cheaper rate…yada yada. So I did.

Fast forward a few months…my daughter and her husband were talking about how much data was being used and the number of text messages his sister had sent last month. (His teenage sister is also on the family plan.) While we were sitting there railing about teenagers and their text message obsession my daughter pipes up and says, “Don’t worry Mom, you only sent ###”. Wait…...What??     You have access to my phone habits?? Didn't think about that....

There is a slight panic moment when you realize your child can read YOUR text messages. It’s like the recurring stress-induced dream you have where you show up at work in your underwear. Highly exposed. (You’ve never had a recurring dream where you showed up at work in your underwear? Is it just me??) Of course….once the panic settles I understand that being on their family plan would in fact put me in their circle of information.  I’m cool with that. Panic is a strong word. I have nothing to hide. All the same, my extremely readable expressive face must have registered something because she came right back with “But I haven’t read any of them.” Yet……..

So what’s next? Will the ‘Family’ GPS track my whereabouts? I ride the roads a lot. A print out of my travels would look like one of those nostalgic string art kits. (Do any of you remember doing one of those? Wrapping those insanely thin pieces of string around pegs nailed into a board?) Or should I be concerned that I won’t be able to access the next episode of Sons of Anarchy? Will my phone mysteriously cut off at 11 pm? How literally will they now take ‘parental control’?

It used to be all I worried about was what kind of nursing home they were going to put me in.

I have entered into the phase of life where my children are now adults. That’s an oxymoron, right? You can’t be a child AND an adult. Maybe I’m the moron, but this reality is hard to get used to! You spend almost two decades taking care of them and then suddenly, if you have done it right, they move on, out and have their own lives. The world sees these productive, mature, well-adjusted women, but all I see are the little girls stomping through the mud puddles in the back yard or Barbie birthday cakes or one child catching a fish, bringing it home and the other one praying it back to life! (That’s a true story.)       (It IS a true story.)

What ups the difficulty ante is when you are SINGLE with adult children! No one ever plans for that. There isn’t a chapter in “Bringing Your Baby Home” that discusses that particular scenario. Everyone assumes when the grandkids are brought back home there will be two gray haired people sitting in the rocking chairs on the front porch. Not one Miss Clairol MeMe sending text messages or checking in on Facebook driving around in an orange car. (I don’t actually DO those things while I’m driving my orange car.)  I can’t relate to their feelings about this. My parents were married over 60 years. They literally were the two gray haired people sitting on the front porch rocking chairs. It does make me sad sometimes that I cannot offer them what I was afforded. Instead of trading recipes and family heirlooms, we trade relationship stories. And get tattoos together. That sounds messed up, right?  And instead of meet my parents, it is now meet my kids.

It used to concern me a little when I brought a new suitor home to meet my parents. I mean, I wanted them to like him, but it wasn’t exactly mandatory. It’s not quite that simple now. The dynamics are different. It is really important to me that my daughters like and preferably respect the man I invite over for family dinner. While I am smart enough to realize sometimes that doesn’t happen, it is a bumpy road to travel if you set yourself up for holidays, birthdays and family vacations with a partner who clashes with your offspring. Learned that the hard way. Not going there again if I can help it. 

I should just leave the partner picking to them anyway. Both of my daughters are better at cultivating and maintaining relationships than I am.  My youngest daughter has already been married longer than I was. No idea where they got their insight. Certainly wasn’t me. They probably got together late one night as teenagers and said “Whatever Mom does, let’s do the opposite!” Seems to have been a good game plan for them.

But for now all is ok. I think we have settled into this all being adults thing ….finally. You can’t have amazing grandkids until that happens anyway. And hey, it has its benefits. I did get a new cell phone.  Who knows, as the years go by they both may just end up doing more  and more for me. That’s the circle of life, right?

Maybe they will even be kind enough to make sure I don’t go to work in my underwear.

Hope Out


  1. I have that sadness too. My parents were together and best friends until Dad passed away, 3 years before my xdh left me. Our kids were just 6 and 7, and I still can't believe I raised them all by myself, 500 miles away from family that loved me (and my adopted kids) unconditionally. I'm sorry that my children's childhood couldn't mirror mine. But they are still single at an age when I was already married, so maybe there is hope for them to make better choices.

    PS: In my dreams, I'm back at school where I've forgotten where my class and my locker are...and sometimes some clothing is missing too!


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