Kelly Ripa, she of her eponymous television show, Colgate and Nutella commercials, has caused quite a stir. She went on “The Wendy Williams” show last week and revealed, when relating an incident with her 13-year old daughter that resulted in her daughter losing phone privileges, “I don’t think she likes me, but I don’t care. I’m like, ‘I’m not your friend, I’m your mom.’”
Oh, my God, Kelly Ripa broke the internet.
Twitter, Facebook and all manner of social media blew up. People, in a stunning example of online overreaction, made comments ranging from “she hates her kid” to “Kelly has just shut up liberal parents once and for all.”
Seriously? Why is this even a conversation?
Sure, I’m friends with my mom. Now. I’m also a 44 year old woman who’s achieved at least a small measure of maturity. When I was 13? Couldn’t stand the sight of the woman. It wasn’t her fault. It was simply the nature of our particular parent/child relationship. She was not my friend. She was my mother. And never the twain met, at least until I was legally able to join her at the kitchen table with a bottle of wine and bitch about horrible bosses and bad dates.
I don’t understand parents who are afraid that their kids aren’t going to like them. I insist on their respect and depend on their love, but they do not need to like me. I don’t need to be their friend and I don’t expect them to be mine.
I have a checklist of things I look for in a friend and at this stage, my kids don’t meet any of them.
Things like, can you buy wine? Do you remember where you were when the Berlin wall came down? Were you even born when the Berlin Wall came down? Have you ever seen a music video on MTV? Have you or are you currently in a serious, long-term relationship with a significant other thus giving you insight into why my husband is currently driving me up a friggin’ tree? Have you ever lain awake at night worrying about money or illness or whether you’re going to lose your job in the latest round of your company’s layoffs?
No? Then you can’t be my friend.
Similarly, I’m sure I don’t meet all my kids’ requirements for friendship.
I can’t watch “Kickin’ It” or “Lab Rats” or “Jessie” on a loop without wanting to open a vein. When I want to celebrate something, my first restaurant choice isn’t McDonald’s or Buffalo Wild Wings. I love naps, having someone wash my hair and someone presenting me with a well-balanced meal at 6:00 every evening, all things they hate. Dirty hands make me twitchy, runny noses skeeve me out and wearing the same pair of socks two days in a row is gross. But they, and most of their friends, see no problem with any of the foregoing.
I look forward to the day when my children come home to visit (not to live – once you’re out, you’re out!) bringing with them adult problems and adult beverages, when we can talk like adults and reminisce about the time I took away their phone or they lied about doing homework or they thought my head was going to explode from all the yelling I was doing.
Until that day, friendship is not part of parenting. And I think we’re all better for it.