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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

August 2005

She was lying, I knew it. Jealousy was her motive, I figured – but nonetheless, I didn’t consider her at all to be telling the truth. Maybe she just wanted her youth back and chose to live vicariously through me. Then again, maybe it wasn’t jealousy at all. Control is an equally considered suspect. She may have felt like she didn’t have any control over anything else in her life, so she had to show dominance with me. She wasn’t an expert on anything in my book. After all, what did she know about fashion? Her clothes were out of style; her hair was not flattering in cut or color, and she didn’t seem to know anything about the world in which I lived – so why should she have assumed she knew what was best for me? Besides, I’d already learned she wasn’t exactly “obedient” in her youth either. You can imagine my shock, then, when I realized fifteen years later that she wasn’t just “right”; she knew from experience and was trying to save me from reliving her mistakes and feeling her pains. What do you mean my mother was right?

My mom isn’t the only one who shares advice or warnings. All moms of all ages, grandmothers and aunts included – have that instinctive need to dish out advice – and we all know that when we’re fifteen, we feel immortal, invincible, and smarter than everyone else on the planet. How in the world did our parents, or the rest of society for that matter, ever survive before us? I don’t know about you, but when I was fifteen, I was telling my mom how to do her hair, how to wear her make-up, and as if she were only four, I’d try to pick her clothes out for her if ever I was to be seen anywhere with her. I even tried telling her how to drive. Obviously, she couldn’t know what she was talking about when giving advice to me! So, I basically ignored her, thinking her a fool.

Grandma was more of the physical warning system, always preaching to my siblings and me about watching what we eat, brushing our teeth, pushing back the cuticles on our fingernails, washing our faces with Noxzema, not popping our knuckles, and standing up straight so we don’t have future back problems and grow up to be hunch-backs. Mom, on the other hand, was warning us of more of the emotional and spiritual upheavals and pitfalls. When I’d pop off at her in my arrogant juvenile way, she’d not get really angry, but more spiteful and say, “You just wait. Things will look a lot different when you’re thirty and have kids of your own.” In fact, she kept a magnet on our fridge that read, “Avenge yourself, live long enough to be a burden to your children.” When I’d do things really hurtful to her or say things to her that were mean, she was hurt, of course, but she knew in her heart that I was just being a rebellious teen, and looked at me in such a way that said, “You just wait ‘til your kid does something like that to you.” You know what I thought to myself in reply? I bet you do. Try this on for size, “My kids will never talk to me or treat me that way because I will be a much better mother and my children will love and respect me and be my best friends!”

Sound familiar?

Just when I thought I had life all figured out and was on top of the world, everything came crashing down because I realized that every thing my mother, grandmother, and aunts tried to warn me about was coming true! The wall paper of my reality began peeling away in front of my very eyes. My own teen-aged son (at age fifteen, to be ironically exact) also found that the only way to find his independence was through less than kind separation. I started having flashbacks of all the mean things I ever said and did, and found myself wanting to call my mother and apologize. She was right; it did hurt and I do understand now that I have my own kids – whom, by the way, try to tell me how to dress, how to wear my hair, and how to drive. To make matters worse, fifteen-fillings and six crowns later, I realized Grandma may have been onto something when she said all that sugar and soda would be bad for my teeth. They were also right about the whole world changing when I was thirty. Suddenly, the candy bar and soda I had for lunch started hanging around on my backside and the size four jeans began cutting off my circulation. Crows feet found their ways to my eyes, just to the sides of the bags that had formed. My kids began speaking in a language I no longer understood, saying things like “tight”.

I remember the first time I heard that expression. My kids and I had gone shoe shopping; each of the three of them needed a new pair. The boys, being older, were instructed to find their size and try on a pair they liked. Meanwhile, I was looking for something that would fit my much younger daughter. My middle son came to me with a happy face. He’d found what he liked and it fit him. Then the eldest child returns with a pair and says, “Mom… I like these; they’re so tight!” Who could blame me, then, when I replied, “Then try on a bigger pair.” Not only was I out of style and out of the communication loop, but I could no longer identify (or enjoy) the most popular tunes on the radio. To top it all off, I seemed to forget how to program a VCR, remote control for the television, or my new computer. That’s right; I had to ask my kids for help! How did I ever survive before they were born?

They say all women turn into their mothers. You’ll never know how valiantly I resisted and rejected that concept. Maybe all other women turned into their mother, but not me. But, alas, time tells all tales and I realized that they were right. I had become my mother, and it seemed to have happened while my head was turned the other way. Now that I have three children of my own and am “thirty-something”, I’ve lived through some of the experiences and hardships that shaped my mother, experiences that did give her wisdom and make her an expert with my best wishes in mind, I realize how naïve and difficult I was. I think I’ll continue apologizing for many years to come.

Evolving and becoming one of the grown ups has changed many of my perspectives. Knowing what my mother went through with me and with life’s general challenges, I’ve learned to forgive many of the grudges I’d held with me, not realizing it was time to let go of the past, forgive mistakes, and not be so critical of a judge about what kind of a mother I thought she had been. As it turns out, she’s the best mother I could have hoped for – and I’m proud to have carried some of her traits, and then pass them on to my own daughter.

My kids may think I’m an alien who doesn’t understand much, but just wait. They’ll be thirty… some day. Then, they’ll be the ones asking, “What do you mean my mother was right?”

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