Do you love your kids and would do anything for them? Are they almost perfect – er, are they perfect in your eyes? Do you ever – you know – "hover" over them in any way?
We mothers laugh at this behavior – but admit it – you do it. And so do I.
That's why we relate to the Beverly Goldbergs of the world, even if we don't quite want to admit it.
Beverly Goldberg is a real person*, but for the sake of this blog post, I'm writing about the fictional mother from the TV series "The Goldbergs" as portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey. She's the kind of mom we laugh at for being too sure her children are perfect, too involved, and too unwilling to let go of her children (ala Marie Barone as played by Doris Roberts from "Everybody Loves Raymond").
The show is based on the real-life experiences of the show's creator, Adam Goldberg, and focuses on an upper-middle class family in Pennsylvania during the 1980s. The characters' imperfections, anxieties, tempers and other behaviors are all a part of the show – we laugh at their stories – and we embrace them.
Because we are them.
As a mother, Beverly tries hard to make her home lovely, do nice things for her family and offer words of wisdom. But we're not talking June Cleaver or Carol Brady here – we're talking Marie Barone on steroids – and with swearing.
Beverly argues with her daughter Erica who is applying to prestigious colleges in California that she should just go to school in Pennsylvania so that she can "drop in" at any time to see how Erica is doing. That's precisely the reason Erica is considering schools far away and she tells her mother so. The argument escalates until Beverly is shrilly telling Erica she will board a rocket ship to the moon to visit Erica should she apply to colleges there.
With her first son, Barry, Beverly rebels against her husband Murray's suggestion that Barry enroll in a military-like program at high school to "toughen" him up. She couldn't stop Murray from convincing Barry to sign up, but when Barry complains about how hard it is, she shows up telling the "drill sergeant" coach she will be his "assistant" (dressing in fashionable military patterned outfits) and bringing snacks like raisins and juice for Barry and ordering him to take a "break" from trying to get over the climbing obstacle to eat what she brought.
When youngest son Adam doesn't want to participate in swim class at school because he feels awkward wearing the school-issued bathing suit in front his classmates, Beverly tries to get Adam to stand in front of a mirror and tell himself repeatedly "I have a beautiful body!"
You get the idea.
So I wondered about some things after I watched my own son umpire a game for eight year olds recently.
I did know my son wanted me to stop by and see him do his job. I was happy to.
I really didn't hover the whole time near him. I did take some pictures on my phone. I smiled at both coaches. I eyed the parents in the stands.
I went for an exercise walk on the grounds of the field by the nearby school, but I would come back now and then to watch the game. I snapped a few more pictures on my iPhone. I briefly spoke to him on breaks. "Drink your water, even though you're not playing the game – it's still hot out!" I blurted – as quietly as I could.
I believe I was being pretty discreet.
But I was also thinking "Don't you yell at my son if you don't like his calls! He's doing a REALLY good job! It's too bad if you want your team to win and you cannot handle his professionalism! And realize – I'm watching you – both you coaches and parents. I am."
He did indeed do a good job at umping. I know this for sure because my husband was also there, and he does not make excuses for things but is only honest in his assessments when it comes to stuff like this.
Do I really hover??? Am I Beverly???
This week, my son is in Colorado at the Air Force Academy going to a hockey camp. Last year, he was only a day into this camp, and he fell backward – in full gear – and hit the ice in such a way as to break his elbow joint. It was the first day, the first session, being on the ice at the camp.
There was no way to "cast" such a break. Surgery with long screws and multiple plates was necessary. Months of occupational therapy followed.
He recovered. He joined a Catholic football league and was so excited to play in the fall. The coaches loved him and made him the starting QB for Sunday's game.
Friday night at practice, he caught a pass, got tangled up with another player's legs and fell – breaking his other elbow. Same thing, all over again, other arm.
He missed playing for the whole season.
But, he played travel hockey in the winter, and he played as an 8th grader for the high school JV hockey team this spring, as a primer to playing Freshman year.
I let him join the high school football team, and he has been attending summer practice.
I let him go to the Air Force Academy hockey camp this week to finish what he started last year.
I admit that I do hover. But I think I launch, too.
I am sentimental. I admit it. Ridiculously so.
I took pictures of my baby girl driving to school on her last day of junior year a few weeks ago. This fall means senior year, the last year of high school, the last digit in the "K-12" years of life. So I'm prepping to cherish every moment now.
And I took pictures of my baby boy biking up the street on his last day of 8th grade, his last time biking to school. In the fall he'll be getting rides to the high school with his sister, or catching the bus.
And I also took pictures of my kids driving to the junior high practice the Saturday before Memorial Day, so that my son could practice percussion to march in the parade, and my daughter came back to assist the band directors with other volunteer high school students.
I liked seeing them drive off together.
So yes, again, I am sentimental. And I do hover. A little.
Like Beverly, I DO believe my kids can do things – maybe things they are not 100% sure they can do.
In a little over a week, my daughter leaves for a 3 week tour of Europe playing her instrument, going with four other students from her high school and more than 200 others around the state.
I am nervous. She is nervous – and has been dealing with anxiety.
But she must go, and she will flourish. She loves me, depends on me – but typically does better when I am not around.
I also let her join the Cross Country team again this year. She has suffered plantar fasciitis and stress fractures, but she will create her own running schedule to match her body's needs, and she will prepare herself to meet her personal running goals.
I am proud that my son is spending a week in Colorado by himself at 14, realizing his goal of attending a camp where he plays a sport he loves, and where he hopes to attend someday.
I am proud my daughter is going to tour the world in a way that I never have – it's been almost 26 years since I left this country to go to Europe, and I visited 2 countries, not 7 like she will.
The value of going with other young people and taking care of herself is immeasurable.
Would Beverly do this? Would she let her kids go and explore the country, even the world – without her?
She would freak out. She would find ways to monitor them (yes, "Find My Friends" works across the country – I don't know if it will work around the world!).
But despite her hovering, meddling and controlling behavior, she is a good mother.
So am I.
Bon Voyage, my sweets. I want to hear all about it when you get back.
*Yep, the real-life Beverly Goldberg apparently loves her TV counterpart, but I made the clarification that I was writing about the TV version because I don't feel comfortable making any comments about a real person - especially a person I have never had the pleasure to meet. Truthfully, Beverly - fictional or real-life - lets us Moms know that we can truly never love too much - and no matter how you look at it, that's a good thing. A mother's heart is as strong as steel and fragile as china - our hearts are intertwined with all that our kids experience - and we will forever be connected to these beings created within us. No matter how old they get, they are still a part of us.
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