How the heck did that happen?
One moment, I’m on top of the parental world. I’m the hoop-playing, book-writing, bubble-gum-packing Cool Mom in the Hood (“the CMH”); the Mom who brought droves of neighborhood kids to the door, earning coveted playdates and the admiration of my then-socially challenged daughter, Katie.
“Mom, the kids want me to come over and play Ding, Dong, Ditch. They said you can come, too.”
“Cool, I’ll be right there.”
There’s no doubt; back then, I had my maternal mojo, a social marvel to my innocent, impressionable, and quirky Katie.
“Wow Mom, you really know what to say to kids. I wish I was like you.”
Really. I could have worn a blue suit and red cape with the letters “SSM” –SuperSocial Mom.
I was that good.
But now that my little girl is 20 and living away at school, I’m no longer someone she marvels at. Now, I’m just a mere mortal mother who has been stripped of her social superpowers. Without notice, the “SSM” I so proudly wore has been torn away from my now-sagging chest.
I am now NM – Nosy Mother; the very person I fought against in my own childhood.
“Mom stop reading my Etch-A-Sketch. God! You are so nosy.”
I didn’t realize my metamorphosis until Katie came home for college this winter break. Somehow, some way, the easy-going daughter, who used to be so open in childhood, has gone off the maternal grid, giving me very little information about her life at school, work, or anywhere else, and forcing me to conduct my own investigation.
“Who are you talking to, Honey? So do you like any boys at school? Have you made any friends at work? Is everyone being nice to you? Are your grades OK? How’s your driving been? You aren’t smoking pot, are you?”
I hate to admit it; my formerly open-book daughter now runs her life at home like a KGB agent. And, I, the once epicenter of her existence, the Former Center of Her Universe (FCHU), have been shut down. Cut off. Iced out.
“God, Mom! You ask way too many questions. You are so nosy!”
Of course, like any good secret agent (or obsessed special needs mother), I haven’t been deterred in my mission to know what’s going on in her life. I even have access to some sophisticated technology for obtaining information and assessing any threats to her.
“Mom! Please stop reading my Facebook page! You’re so sketchy! I’m unfriending you!”
I will admit, however, that while I am a bit hurt that I am no longer part of her CST – Circle of Social Trust – my daughter’s need for privacy does bring me pleasure. She’s doing something that I thought she’d never be able to do when she was diagnosed with special needs and really struggling.
She’s living independently. Without me.
But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop my quest to know more about her life. I can’t. I am “SNM” – Special Needs Mother. It will always be my job to look out for her, no matter what she says.
Really Mom? Someone named ‘Tina Tallagher’ just Friend Requested me. You are so lame.”
Gina Gallagher is a former Superhero, freelance writer, and co-author of “Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid; A survival guide for ordinary parents of special children.”