Thursday, July 19, 2012

In defence of mothers,or things mothers wish their grown children knew about them......

8 simple rules. 


I read a post a few nights ago about rules for mothers visiting their adult daughters and it got me into a total rage, let me tell you. Then despair. Then fury. Then sadness. Then annoyance. Then amusement. Then anger. Then sympathy. Then sorrow. Then......


It got me thinking a great deal.

Is thinking good? Perhaps. But maybe I just didn't need to read it when I did, because even though there were certainly some valid points in it,  I heard it as a mother, and also as a daughter, and the whole thing nearly caused me to explode all over the place, which would not have been pretty at all . I wondered for a moment if I even wanted to carry on writing here and reading blogs, and it is rare that that thought has even crossed my mind. Maybe I need to start giving talks on the subject at all conferences attended by young do-it-all women. I just want to yell STOP! Think. Listen.

Anyway, out of that cauldron of fire came this. And I have worked on it for many hours. Days. Thinking. Deleting. Adding. Deleting. And waiting. Waiting to see if I care enough to post it. You see, it wasn't so much all of the content, but the feeling it all evoked in me on behalf of mothers and mothers-in-law everywhere.

The world does not revolve around any of us. Not me or all the other Mums out there. And neither does it revolve around our children, grown or not.

8 Simple Rules.......

So I could come up with my own rules  too, if I cared to do so. How about  - "8 Simple Rules for Adult Children When "Hosting" Their Mothers " or "8 Simple Rules for Adult Children When Visiting Their Mothers". Or a variation of the above. Or 12. But there is a certain arrogance attached to rule making, and arrogance could be seen to be the prerogative of the young. Come to think of it, my father used to bemoan the arrogance of youth when I was a teenager........

So this post is, I suppose, written with younger women in mind. And in no way , shape or form am I referring to my own amazing kids as I write. Little angels, all of them. Of course. It is just my gut reaction to what I read. So A, A, D and D, bear that in mind if you are reading, please. Let there be no misunderstanding here.

I am not going to dwell on the content much or the comments or likes or shares on Facebook because that just stirs up the rage again, and we do not want to go there, so I will be chanting "Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" as I write and trying to go to a calm, peaceful place inside my head so I can be all sweetness and light with the words and not the irate mother or mother-in-law I want to be at this very precise exact moment. Said through gritted teeth while hammering at the keys with excessive force. The Ommmmmmmm is not working too well, it seems.

Oh get on with it, girl, this is the longest preamble in history......


I have been a mother for 35+ years. Add in the 9 months of pregnancy (which counts in my book) and we will be reaching nearly 36 years. In other words, I have a little experience in the realms of being a parent to adult children. They still talk to me. I have also been a mother-in-law for the past 9 years. And my daughter-in-law still talks to me. Go me.

The first thing I want to say is that motherhood lasts a lifetime. Not 18 years. There is no "stop" button. Nor is there any rule anywhere which says that a woman has outlived her purpose once her children reach adulthood. Anyone thinking that the love, the worry, the concern, the fascination, the interest, switches off as the child departs for college/uni/a new job/marriage etc etc is deluding themselves. Expecting your mother to not show any interest in your frantically busy and complicated lives is unrealistic. She invested 18+ years in you before you left home, and no doubt nurtured your dreams and talents to get you to the place where you are today. Remember that. Just because you are grown up does not mean you no longer need a mother in your life. Or that she should stop wanting to be a Mum. And heaven knows, she may well have exciting things of her own to do, but that doesn't stop the "being a mother" bit at all. Look at your little ones now. Today. This minute. Go on. LOOK at them. Can you begin to imagine not having them front and centre of your life in a few years time? Can you foresee a time when they may not want you around? Or that you may not want to be around them? See? The way you feel for your child is the way your mother feels about you. Still. After all the years. I rest my case. 

The second thing I want to say is that mothers are human too. They also get to make mistakes. They can be fallible. Just because they are your mothers does not mean that you have to expect perfection from them all the time, because, HELLO, there is no such thing as perfection. Pedestals are uncomfortable and mothers never asked to be perched on one. Comfortable armchairs in a coffee shop are a much better idea. Mothers tend to blossom in these places. Find a way to deal with any niggles. Talk. Listen. And say you are sorry, if it is necessary. I am hoping your mother will do the same, because she TAUGHT you to say sorry, didn't she?? Apologies from all ages are sometimes difficult. Cake makes it easier. 

The third thing I want to say is this - you will never have a more staunch ally, friend or someone who accepts you with all your lunatic ideas quirkiness than your mother. So remember this. No points to score, just total love. When the chips are down, mothers will move heaven and earth to support, help, rescue and babysit your house while waiting for the new washing machine to be delivered, having driven halfway across the country to do so. And I will discuss babies in a minute. The tiger in the mother never goes away.

The fourth thing I want to say is that you don't have to like everything they may so or do. They taught you that you will always be loved, even though the things that you say or do may not always be liked. Hopefully, they managed to raise intelligent, articulate, independent adults with opinions of their own. Individuals. If they wanted to raise clones of themselves, I have no doubt that, with the superior powers mothers are endowed with, they could have done that. Had they chosen to. Think Dolly, the Sheep. Clearly 99.9% prefer not to do this. How incredibly boring the world would be if we all replicated each generation. Differences add interest and colour to life. Oh and this - they still don't have to like everything you say and do.

The fifth thing I want to mention here is this - RESPECT. What I am hearing and reading seems to be lacking in this totally. No matter what, you respect your mother. Treat her with respect. Show concern for HER life and HER dreams and HER interests. SEE her. She too is a woman with all the added experience of surviving raising you. Those times may well have been torrid at best and rollercoaster-like to the extreme. You have a way to go before you get to sew on all the badges. It takes a lifetime to earn them. Your mother knows this.

The sixth thing I want to talk about is this - family. Family is a group of people all linked by blood or love. Practice your own deep breathing if you have to, but your family "goes" with you, wherever you may go. And one day, when you are old and greying like me, you will realise just how important they have always been, how unimportant all the other stuff was, and you will know just why I am writing this. Friends come and go, you know. Your family stays right there at the centre of your lives. Forever. If not, then YOU are the loser more than you realise. And what happened to asking her to help with the dusting or washing up or coffee making? She would be delighted and believe me, in 99% of cases would never be judgemental about it at all. Being useful is something human beings enjoy.  Being useful is being needed. And this could be a win/win way to settle any hackles you may feel rising. I have a policy around here of pointing to the cleaning stuff should anyone see fit to remark on my less than stellar housekeeping talents.

The seventh things is that your mother is probably a Granny. And being a Granny is one of the most wonderful things on earth, because, Hallelujah, you can give them back and go home when you have run out of breath and/or energy. And you can also love and cuddle and spoil and indulge. Remember your Granny? How much did you love the time you spent with her??? Who has the time and endless patience other than Grannies? And who picks up the baton and races to the rescue if babysitting is necessary??? Grannies do. So what if they spoil your little darlings. They are quite entitled to do so. It is in the Granny charter. And so what if they relate all your misdeeds to your little darlings - it is called sweet revenge. And who better to have with you at every.single.recital, ballet display, exhibition, rugby match etc etc etc than a grandparent who has eyes only for the extraordinary superpowers talents of your offspring??? Cherish the Granny who is also your Mom, girls. She will also be the one who knows just what to do in emergencies, because yes, she did finally manage to potty train you, against all odds and after countless nights of thinking she was a failure at this mothering lark. She no doubt sat in A&E with you, catching the dripping blood and/or tears once upon a time. She also probably knows the Heimlich manoeuvre. This is very useful.

The eighth thing is this - "hosting"????? WHAT??? You "host" your mother??? What in the name of all that is holy are you talking about? You host total strangers. Not your mother. Appointments??? You make appointments with your mother to visit?? What?? In my world, the sentence "Mum came round to tea" is more like it. Or "Mum popped in". Host? See # 6 and #7 above. Mother. Family. Granny. Words fail me. I know many women who would give their eye teeth to have their Mum pop in just once more so they could talk to them or have a hug. They can't because their mothers are no longer around. I have one friend, who, when she was diagnosed with cancer, came flying in my door to see MY mother, because she needed a Mum to hold her while she wept. My mother is available to be shared at any time.

Do I speak from any experience? Why, yes. How wonderful you thought to ask me that. I am both a mother and a daughter. Just right there in the middle. I have vast experience. My mother has lived with me or my sister since 1997. That would be 15 years this November. Good grief. During that time, we have lost not only my father, but my husband as well. And at the time she arrived, my children were 20, 16 and 8. And all 3 of them - 4 including my lovely daughter-in-law - can be found sprawled on her bed or on the couch chatting to her at any time. They all love their Granny. Missy loves her Gateganny. My sister and I would not change a single thing. Of course there are times when we all need to be in our own space, tempers get frayed and there may be some yelling involved, but we work around it, and while there is breath left in us, our mother will be looked after and loved. Respected and at the very centre of this family. She is 86 now and absolutely amazing. Extended families can be a huge blessing. Isolation - not so much.

By the very virtue of the fact that she is your mother, she will be a great deal older than you and time passes very swiftly, you know. I won't be here forever. Neither will my mother. And neither will yours. Just remember that, because regrets at the end of life are horrible things. 

So here is the final part of what I want to say........ ask yourself what YOU do when you go and visit your mother. Is it a joy? Is it a "duty" visit? Do you sigh and think about all the "you" things which you would rather be doing? The size of your in-box, the chores, the shopping, the gym, the lawn which needs mowing, another more appealing invitation? Or do you go because you want to spend time with her? Is it only when it is convenient to YOU? Do you only visit her as a family unit, or do you visit alone at times, or arrange outings for just the 2 of you? Do you visit because you want to visit her? Or is it because you wonder if she misses you? Do you miss her at all? And what do you do when you walk in the door? Do you criticise her piles of stuff? Do you wonder if she ever dusts? Do you shake your head at her decor? Do you listen to what she is saying? Do you see her as a person who has spent your lifetime loving you? Do you know anything about who she is? Her dreams? Do you show respect for her decisions or choices? Her food and the way she cooks? Do you stop and think how long she may have been preparing for your visit? The excitement and delight it may have given her? Do you think to ask if there are chores you could help her with? Does she feel able to ask you for any help she may need? Does she know how much you love her?

Just think a little.

Life is never going to be perfect. Friends will let you down. Mums? Not if they can help it.

Oh - and one last thing before I implode and actually do what I nearly did last night in the midst of all the rage and sadness and amusement etc etc, and stop reading  or writing at all - there is a good chance that your mother may blog, tweet, be active on Facebook and quite at home with social media. She may have highlights, go to the gym, wear jeans and drive zooty cars while listening to loud music. She may even be fun to be with. Forget the little old lady image. That is over and done with. This is 2012. She could be planning adventures. She may go sky-diving, or on a trek through the Amazon. She may have friends of all ages all over the world. Who knows, she may even see the Internet and this weird and quirky blogging world as a vital and life enhancing part of her day. Her life.

She may also know a great deal more about life than you could even begin to realise. Mothers can be very interesting people.

And God knows, she will have plenty to say on every subject under the sun.

Just ask my kids..............


Needled Mom said...

I am actually glad that you read that post because it brought about this beautiful and thought provoking one. Thank you.

Laurie in Ca. said...

Amen Linds, you speak for so many of us moms and grandmas here. I love the wisdom that comes with growing older. It allows us to see things much deeper in dealing with the young moms of today who are doing their best to do it better than we did, only to end up where we are now and see things more clearly. Thank you and love you too.

Love and Hugs, Laurie

Crystal said...

I loved every single point you made! And it reminded me to remember my Mom's feelings and wishes too. You are such a wise women who has an incredible gift for writing, Linds. Your kids are blessed to call you their Mom.

And every point you make about grandchildren is dead on too :))

((( HUGS )))

Run Quilt Knit Write said...

I loved reading this....and I wish I had a mother like you (except you're too young!) or your mum. My mother likes the idea more than the reality and left to her own devices wouldn't visit at makes me very sad, but what can you do?

Chris said...

This is being sent to EVERY SINGLE ONE of my children!!


The Bookworm said...

Love this Linds! I was curious and googled the original blog post - it made me sad rather than angry though, for what it said about the writer's relationship with her mother.

Linds said...

I know just what you mean - it is sad, but what really got to me was the number of people agreeing with her, and as the Mum of adult children, and a daughter as well, I had all those mixed emotions of rage and sadness, and HAD to say something. I wish you could have seen the initial draft!

Linds said...

And the initial draft had the link in, which I removed, because it would have linked on her post, so I took it out. I wasn't quite ready for that.

Vee said...

Pass the tissues. I've been weeping since point #1. Beautifully said, Linds.

Kelli said...

Can I be honest here and risk the wrath of one and all, you included?

I had to read this on one hand, with my fingers in my ears saying, "bababababa I cannot hear you" and thinking in the other breath, I should really send this to, well, you know who.

I could sit here forever and list my mom's faults, and how they have formed the relationship (sic) we have today.

Yet, I see my own faults and where they have led to with my daughter and I. Though with us, other than being two strong identical personalities, I cannot see where we went wrong.

So, I don't know honestly.

But, I do agree with what you have said here. But, maybe not just for me and my mom ....

Kelli said...

I saw this and thought of you. I hope you see the reason....

retha said...

I too am glad you wrote this.

It just brings me back to my old question why is something that could be so comforting, relaxing, loving ... so beautiful so difficult to achieve.

Would love for my mother to pop in having an appointment anything, but I am seemingly always in the way.

Sorry for crying in your ear. But then if I am really sorry I should probably not click publish.
Maybe I should ask write a post of how to get to be the mother and grandmother I am seeing in you. How to gather all the children in the arm and sit on the kitchen counter talking about plants, values, news, twitter, tea, relationships or any old stuff. Getting upset with each other and be able to continue laughing, strolling and walk through what is life together. Like Velcro not slipping past each other like sating.

Tigger said...

Interesting blog - here's a thought for you: my mum is no longer around as has not been for many years now. A lady from a different country, a friend of my mother's who knew her for many years but was not always very close to her, has taken over where mum left off. Blood tie - none. Emotional bond of the mother - child variety ? Absolutely ! As strong as the one I had with my mother with added bells & whistles. I take your point about our mums and let's celebrate " motherhood " taking on different forms & shapes & sizes. I am very lucky !
Here's hoping your mum will be there for you for many more years to come.

Cait O'Connor said...

Yes this was very interesting and wise.

Robin said...

Thank you for expressing your thoughts on this topic. May I share mine? As the mom of two grown and married sons who live 900 and 1700 miles away from us, a visit is no small thing. When I enter their homes, foremost on my mind and in my heart is that this is indeed their home, their marriage, their family. Respect, kindness and a serving heart have been met with the same. To visit them humbly and lovingly has reaped relationships that honor God. I am blessed beyond measure, by God's grace.