Showing Affection In Public: Being an Embarrassing Mom

One mother discovers that she doesn't embarrass her children by showing affection in public.

I’m Losing It

Being an Embarrassing Mom

Mom lets her baby go, even if it’s just for an overnighter

-Stephanie Elliot

Stephanie Elliot and her son AJI’m home alone, like I am every day when the kids are at school, but I know that when the bus rumbles down our street at 2:45 p.m. only two of my three children will be getting off it. See, my oldest, AJ, is in fifth grade and the fifth graders participate in what is called Outdoor Education. It’s this program where they take our babies on a bus and drive them to another state and let them do a bunch of fun camping activities and then they sleep overnight with their friends in a cabin. Then they all come home tomorrow.

Sounds simple right? Sure, it does. And the kids are all thrilled with this grown-up adventure, and right this very minute, they are probably having the time of their lives. But I’m kind of losing it here. I’m walking around my house doing really weird things.

For instance, I’m not emptying the glass AJ drank out of this morning until he comes home tomorrow. And when I went into the children’s bathroom this morning, I noticed the toilet hadn’t been flushed. I flushed it, but as I did, I thought, “OK, I’m flushing AJ’s pee down the toilet now.” Is this normal for a mom whose son is away for his first overnight camping experience to think of these things? And then, as I was doing laundry and I wondered, “These are the clothes he slept in last night; maybe I shouldn’t wash them?”

Strange behavior right? Proof that I’m losing it?

At school this morning, the parents were encouraged to stay to wave goodbye as all of the fifth graders lined up and made their way to the buses. I handed my camera to my friend and said, “Here, when AJ comes out, I’m going to grab him out of the line and I want you to take a picture of the two of us, OK?”

She looked at me kind of funny. Actually, now that I think of it, she looked at me like maybe I was kind of psycho. Of course, her son going on the trip is her THIRD child. My son going on the trip is my FIRST child. This makes a huge difference in the world of parenting!

I grabbed AJ out of the line, made him hug me and we smiled for the picture. I told him I loved him; I told him to be good. I kissed him in front of all of his friends and their parents, and he kissed me back and told me he loved me.

All of the moms made fun of ME once he got on the bus. How could I have embarrassed my son that way? And did I see how he was blushing? Then I felt horrible for my behavior. How could I have done that to my son! He would probably be mortified with me now, and he would probably be made fun of the whole bus trip. I hung my head in shame, feeling like the lowest of mothers. I didn’t know the protocol of the secrets of motherhood. I don’t know how to control my emotions. I’ve never let him go before.

I just did what felt right to me at the time. And what felt perfectly right to me was to let him know he means the world to me and that I love him so very much, and that I would miss him tremendously. And now, I probably ruined his trip by embarrassing him, according to all of these do-good mothers who were pointing out the error of my ways.

But then, I looked up to the window of the bus, and saw my smiling AJ. He was waving to me and smiling the biggest brightest smile. I hadn’t embarrassed him. He was looking right at me, happy to be so loved and coveted by his mother.

And as all the other mothers looked on, my son, the one I covered with mushy kisses while all of them admonished me for embarrassing him … MY SON looked at me and mouthed the words, “I LOVE YOU” over and over and over again. And I did so back to him, loudly and lovingly, not caring about anyone else around me, because I knew at that moment, I was most definitely NOT embarrassing my child, and I was most definitely NOT LOSING IT.

In fact, if anything, those around me were the ones losing it. They were losing the opportunity to let those they most cherish know how much they cherish them. And that, my friends, is one of life’s most important lessons. Don’t let the moments pass you by. Don’t let you lose it.

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