When you become a parent, you have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.
My daughter’s new favorite line is “I got it.” Depending on how much she wants me to think she got it, she may add, “I got it, Mom” — this means Stop talking. If she says “I got THAT, Mom” — this means I heard you. And, finally, if she exhales heavily and places an emphasis on the “g” and “m” — “I GOT it, Maauum” — this means I wish I could yell at you but I cannot so this is the best I can do. So she moans and hopes I’ll stop talking. Depending on how I am feeling and if I want to stay in the struggle, I may continue or I may stop talking, purse my lips and look into the air for some guidance from on high.
The mother-daughter struggle is real.
A great deal of the time, this means that whatever I am asking her, she has not done because she didn’t want to, she forgot or she just didn’t know how to do it. However she arrives at this lapse in her ability to finish is irritating to me. I know as I am speaking to her that she is no longer listening to me, just as I didn’t listen to my mom when she talked.
My mom talked and talked to the wall, to the refrigerator, to me, to my brothers and sister, to the air, and she expected us all to sit and listen in silence until she was finished telling us something. Now as I remember this and look at my daughter, I see she is not listening and has decided I am just an old woman who has no clue about how complicated her 17-year old life is. I look at this beautiful child I birthed and know that corporal punishment doesn’t work and the only raft I can hang onto is the raft of trust and hope; remembering that what you put in them will come out of them in some way. It may not come when you want it, but it will come. Regardless, the mirror upon which you see yourself in your children, they also see themselves in you.
I see teen girls in my circle who really just cannot stand to talk to their mothers or grandmothers and who believe the Earth revolves around their teen angst. I see exhausted moms who want peace. This is where a fellow mom can come in handy. She can speak to your daughter about the same thing you said, but coming from her — it makes sense. Moms need to give up on the idea that they can do it all. They don’t need to fold ’em.
In the Rice Psychology Group blog by Dr. Wendy Rice, she writes: “As a mother, you’ll want to always give advice to your daughter so she won’t go through any unnecessary stress or pain. Remember to only give advice or opinions when asked. If you are continuously giving advice and opinions when she doesn’t want or need them, you may run the risk of her never coming to you, even when she might need you the most. What you may not realize is that by constantly giving unsolicited advice, you may unknowingly be sending your daughter a message that you don’t believe she is capable of figuring out life on her own.”
Sometimes we have to hold ’em, with the hope that tomorrow is another day and soon — and very soon — they will be gone. And when the time is right, they will come back to you, and then you will see yourself in the mirror and smile. You will reap what you sow.
Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.