My friend and I were walking, chatting about nothing and everything, inevitably ending up on the subject of our children. We both have adult children, gainfully employed, self-sufficient, and independent of us financially, but you wouldn’t know it if you heard us talk. We worry about their health, their jobs, their partners, everything we shouldn’t have to worry about, and yet we do. Because once you’re a mother you never stop worrying.
It’s not that our children bring us these worries. We just ‘see’ them from a distance. We see them making mistakes that could be avoided, the very mistakes we made when we were young – does experience count for nothing? Apparently not, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned and both agree upon, it’s that our children won’t listen. Clearly they have to hit the same brick walls we did to get it right. What a painful and unnecessary exercise!
And if you try to offer your unsolicited opinion, you’re met with ‘the hand’, because they’re going to do it their way regardless. It doesn’t help either, to tell them that we made these mistakes in our young adult lives and simply want to help them avoid the same pitfalls, because the response will invariably be, “I’m not you”, and that is the perfect segway for us to play the Do as I say, not as I do, card. (assuming they’ll listen, which they won’t)
As a child you are warned not to touch something or there will be consequences, an injury perhaps, or the something will get broken or damaged, but you had to learn for yourself, so you touched it. And the predicted outcome happened (you should’ve listened to mother….) but you’re a child, and that’s how you learn.
As an adult, however, you should be beyond that. Didn’t the mistakes of your childhood teach you to heed the advice of those with experience? (namely, your mother) Ignoring valuable advice (especially from your mother…ask your father, he’ll confirm this) often means you are destined to repeat the mistakes of the previous generation (us), and we want better for you.
But you don’t always listen, and when you’re stinging from the hurt of hitting that brick wall, it’s all we can do to keep from saying “I told you that would happen, you should’ve listened”. But maybe that’s the lesson.
Maybe the impact of the hit is what sends the message home. They say much of the learning that occurs during childhood is acquired through observation and imitation and I’d venture to say that as young parents we’re probably so busy raising kids and working we don’t notice the image we’re portraying. I know my parents tried to tell me how to live, and I didn’t listen, convinced I’d navigate the mistakes a little better. But I didn’t. I made them anyway and that’s how I learned.
So my friend and I walk on, changing the subject because we both know this one’ll never be resolved to our satisfaction. Our children will do what they please with or without our guidance, so we resign ourselves to waiting quietly in the shadows until they need us to comfort their souls and bandage their booboo’s.
You know, this’d be a lot easier if they’d simply do as I say and not as I do!