Sunday, April 15, 2007

Could I BE a Better Mother?

My friends and I have an ongoing conversation (and I do mean ongoing--every week, every day, every hour . . . ) about our grown children. We tread along the same ancient ruts as all mothers reaching back to Eve. And with the same results. Yet, lack of success (our own or any other mother's in the history of motherhood) doesn't impinge upon our dogged fervor.

We, like all mothers past, present and future, have boundless faith in our knowledge, our experience and our wisdom as compared to that of our children's. After all, we've been around the block a couple times. We have seen more. We have survived more. We know more. Duh! If only our kids would take our collective word for it they could avoid like 100% of the mistakes and pain they fall into every day. It's like a refrain from any religion you could name: we could save them if they would only listen!

Here is just one fine example of a typical conversation (complete with internal dialogue) between me and my more-self sufficient-than-I-give-her-credit-for daughter, Beautiful. This could happen any day of any week. There may be slight variations, but the symphony remains the same:

Me: I don't think you should wear that outfit to work. It sends the wrong message. It makes you look angry and defensive.

Me thinking to myself: Shut up! She has just been through the wringer--give her a little space! Enter into this with a gentle hand and with time and restraint and love and respect!

Beautiful: Mom, my outfit is cute. Trust me. I know what to wear and how to wear it.

Me: (Having completely ignored what she just said to me . . . ) And the lip ring detracts from your natural beauty. It used to be that people would see you and think "Wow, that girl is beautiful" or "she must be an artist of some sort." Now they look at you and either think "What happened to Beautiful, she doesn't even look like the same person" or guys think "she looks like an easy target."

Me: What happened to shutting up?

Beautiful: I think I'll ignore her. Maybe she'll shut up. Oh no, she's drawing breath as though she's going to say more. I should have known . . .

Me: Your eye make-up steals away from your lovely eyes. People used to notice your gorgeous eyes, now all they see is overly colorful make-up. Your eye liner is way too thick and heavy and that eye shadow looks like a parrot. It looks de' classe. And beneath you.

Me: In the name of all that is holy and decent--shut up!!!! How much more damage can you do???

Beautiful: Once again, Mom, it's okay for me to wear non-neutral eye make-up because I'm 19--not 39!

Me, Plowing forward as only a truly insane mother would do: Okay, I wasn't saying this the right way before. What I meant about the lip ring is that guys are going to think you're the kind of girl with such low self esteem that you're an easy mark.

Beautiful: Yeah, I thought about that. That actually was one reason I hesitated a long time before getting it done.

Me: Hell yeah! That's right Mama, stick with the subtle manipulation route--you're so good at this!

Me: Can you at least find something a little more pretty or delicate? That way you'll look artistically bohemian.

Me: Go for the jugular Mama--play the artist card!

Beautiful: I'll have to find a pretty one first.

Me: When? Today?

Beautiful: The more you push, the less I'm going to want to do it.

Me: I know.

Me: I know.

The following morning:

Beautiful: How do I look today?

Me: Very pretty, but your eye liner is still too heavy and dark and takes away from your lovely eyes.

Beautiful: Still? I tried to lighten it up a little because you complained about it.

Me: In the name of all that is holy and decent--shut up and give the girl a compliment! It's finally starting to work so encourage her already!

Me: I can see it's lighter than it was before. You look all springy and beautiful!

Me: Oy vie.

Okay, so this is a little exaggerated. A little. It's hard work being a mom. Being perfect and right all the time sure takes its toll!


Rick said...

I love the way you wrote this piece. I am certain you are a great mom.

Mary said...

Every mother (*especially* a mother of a teenage or young adult daughter) laughed while reading most of this post. Then she cringed after recognizing a startingly accurate portrait of herself as well.

You've pegged absolutely what goes through our mind during our "discussions" with our daughters.

Huh. You'd think we raised them to think for themselves and be strong, wouldn't you? What's up with that?

Kristin said...

Thanks, Rick. And you're right, I am a great mom. Wanna know how I know? It's because at the asylum they let me eat lunch at the 'great moms' table ; )

*sigh* Mary . . . I know. Taught to take care of themselves and draw wisdom from their own life experiences. Whatever were we thinking????