Parenting Teens: Stupid Mama Syndrome

Stupid Mama Syndrome

Mothers of pre-teens! Know the signs! You are bound to get it soon. But hear the good news–I’ve experienced a full recovery. If I can beat this, I know you can. It’s only a matter of time!

I should have expected it. I remember my own mother going through it when she was parenting teens. She was about my age . . . . No, she was even younger than I am . . . of course, she started having children at a younger age than I did. No matter, I still thought I could delay it a little longer. There’s no denying it though. When I was parenting teens (three of them at that), I had a full blown case of it.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Yep. Stupid Mama Syndrome (SMS). Here: let me offer some real-life examples of symptoms.

  • A friend who sings semi-professionally and knows keyboards better than most had to have her son explain where notes were on the musical staff.
  • Friends who have been cooking ever since their mamas took sick with the SMS were instructed by offspring on how correctly to measure ingredients.
  • When my son was in the 8th grade, he was working on a History Day project that was due within 12 hours (AKA approximately 12 hours and 15 minutes after he started it). I was unable to assist him in any way because I just didn’t “understand history.” Before the little genius was born, I had taught history at the college level.
  • When said son started taking piano, I commented that the fact that the 12-inch spread he had on his gargantuan hands would make playing piano easier. He explained that in fact the size of the player’s hands has absolutely nothing to do with reaching the keys.

My mother, bless her heart, was plum pathetic when I was a teenager. My sister, born two years before I was, reported that the SMS came on our mom a couple of years before I turned 13. But to be honest, I just didn’t see it. I was about 15 when she was at her worst.

Teen angstBack then, I had to explain everything to my mama. Like when I finally got my driver’s permit (I had to wait until I was 15—so not fair). As long as a licensed driver of a certain age went along in the passenger seat, I could take the wheel. Problem was, my mama had SMS so bad, she could not begin to teach me how to drive. I had to correct her over and over again. (If it hadn’t been so aggravating, it would have been downright sad.) Frankly, it’s a good thing I could drive then, because with her so bad off with SMS, I would’ve been afraid for her to get out in traffic.

Mother suffered with SMS right up until I went off to college. Then–it was nothing short of a miracle–she made an overnight recovery! Hallelujah! Actually, come to think of it, my younger brother did report frequent SMS flare-ups back at home. Anyway, she must have kept her symptoms pretty well under control when she was around me, because after I left home, she started making a lot more sense. My brother even noticed a decrease in her symptoms. . . eventually.

By the time I had teens, Mother had more than beaten her SMS. Even my teenagers–certified experts in SMS detection–never noticed any evidence that she had once suffered such a grave case of Stupid Mama Syndrome. They explained to me with the patience so characteristic of adolescent wisdom that I had clearly misdiagnosed her. Then I think they blessed my heart.

Why are we counted as cattle? Why are we stupid in your sight? Job 18:3 NRSV

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.