What would my mother say?

She says:

Here I am in my mid-forties, married over twenty years, four children and responsibly-employed. Yet my mother has the ability to reduce me to a five-year-old child in seconds. Am I the only one who goes through this? I bet not.

I was prompted to write about this topic (notice Thomas is not writing this because it seems to be more of a mother/daughter issue) because I recently told my mother I was going to San Francisco for the weekend with Thomas. Now, I’ve known about this trip for two months but I could just hear my mom’s comments which would go something like: “How can you leave the children? Do you really think you ought to be spending the money? Do you really think you should be taking the time off work?” It would go on and on.

Instead of dealing with all of that right away, I put it off until yesterday, two days before our departure. To make it more pathetic, I told my mom as I was walking out her door in an oh-by-the-way manner.  As I tried to dash to the car (did I mention I’m in my mid-forties?), I heard my mom say: “Wait just a minute!” Oh boy.

I slunk back and, sure enough, was asked the very questions I anticipated.  By the way, my answers to the above-mentioned questions were:  “Easily”, “Yes” and “That’s what vacation time is for”.  No, really, I wasn’t quite that snarky.

Man oh man, I could just kick myself for caring what my mom thinks. I hate feeling my otherwise confident self whither inside all for her approval. Why does this happen?

Thomas’ theory is that this happens to me and others when parents don’t respect their children’s choices. It’s the way I’ve always experienced things so why should merely growing up make a lot of difference? Hmmm. Well of course that got me thinking about myself as a mother to my children, specifically my daughters. Thomas glaring at me, hoping I’d make the connection, helped that along.

So what do I take from this? As a parent, I need to be aware of how words and glances and gestures can devastate bit by bit in a lasting way and to be very careful to avoid that. As a daughter, well, I haven’t figured that one out yet. Maybe I just need to keep telling myself that I am a grown up and that my decisions are valid and are my own.

This reminds me of a funny quote I heard: “I’m going to build you a bridge so you can get over it!” Perhaps as I cross the mighty Golden Gate Bridge, I’ll think of that and “get over it” in more ways than one.

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4 thoughts on “What would my mother say?

  1. wow, this got me thinking how i come across to my own kids. i don’t want them grown up and worrying about telling me anything for fear of the third degree. i hope it’s early enough in their lives to nip that in the bud.
    as for your mom, she might need to hear from you that you ARE a grown up and are capable of making your own decisions and that you’d appreciate her encouragement…delicately, of course =o}.

  2. I strongly believe we all should go through a rite of passage at some point in our adult lives when we stand up to our parents as adults and assert our adult status.
    This isn’t always easy. It wasn’t for me. I too shared that thing with you that my mother could reduce a mid forties strong feminist into a simpering little girl with just a word. Sometimes just the thought of her could do that.

    But one day my mother went a little too far and made a comment about my partner that sparked a massive explosion inside me and that little girl transformed into the strong woman that I know I am.
    It wasn’t pleasant.
    But that day I grew up for real.
    Unfortunately my mother and I never spoke to each other after that ( my choice) but she did have a personality disorder that I decided to move away from for the sake of my own mental health and that of my children.
    She died suddenly pretty soon afterwards from cancer. I did get to say goodbye and was glad I said it as an adult and not as a scared, vulnerable little girl.

    I’m now a butterfly now I’ve escaped the chrysalis .

  3. It’s the hardest thing to let go of our children’s lives, especially when they reach the teen and young adult years, when they are supposed to find out the boundaries of life, and how they fit (or not) within them. My children are all grown, and I don’t question (much) their choices, but I remember how scared I was that they would take dangerous roads. They tell me when I’m older and can take it, they’ll share some of their more “delightful” experiences. I tell them that my heart is weak and maybe they shouldn’t bless me that way. I do follow my own advice. I never told my deceased mom about the time my friend and I hosed the kitchen down after a spaghettie fight. I have told my granddaughter, who finds this hilarious. I’m sure Mom would have some thoughts on it. We’ll save that talk for Heaven.

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