I realized yesterday morning that there is concise way to describe the difference between my mothering style and the way my mom mothered. She looked at what isn’t and commented. I look at what is and admire.
It took a bit of thought to come up with that startling difference but I was remembering back on her visits. She always seemed to notice the things I could be doing better. Once she told me (when I was using some paper towels to wipe something up), “Your sister-in-law always uses a fresh dish towel then launders it so she won’t have to spend money on paper towels.”
For me, I look at my daughters and sure, they waste money a lot of different ways. Now and then I might make suggestions to them like, “You should get the 7-11 app. I get free coffee sometimes that way.” But, overall, I admire the ways they DO try to keep their budgets together and, even more importantly, they are amazing moms. Their mothering blows my mothering away. I actually DO admire them so much. They amaze me.
My mom said a couple of times, “I was a great wife and a wonderful daughter but not so great a mother but two out of three ain’t bad.” Gee, it is kinda bad if you’re the kid, you know?
Anyway, she probably wasn’t that bad a mother either, to tell the truth. I’ve seen worse… much worse. But, she’s right, she wasn’t great. She got better with age, however. That’s the thing. Do you realize that you will spend many more years being an adult parent (or parent of adult(s) I should say) than you will have spent being a parent of children? Just because they’re grown up doesn’t mean you stop parenting! As a matter of fact, depending upon how much you are with them and how close they are, you may actually parent more. And, to top it off, you still have tremendous impact on their lives.
Have you ever seen a movie or read a book or blog post about an adult’s relationship with their parents (or in-laws)? That should give you an idea of how much impact a parent still has on the child when they’re an adult. So what if you screwed some things up when they were kids or teens, you’ll likely have forty years of them as adults for you to get it right so don’t keep making it bad. I know I’m constantly trying to improve my parenting and my oldest is going to be 45, my youngest just turned 29. My mother died when I was sixty and she had a tremendous impact on me even in her late eighties when she was so frail and helpless. Somehow I didn’t feel as if she really loved me until she needed me and once she needed me, our relationship was so much better than it had been throughout the rest of my adult life. You’re just never too old to not be a parent. You will be parenting until death – yours or theirs (let’s hope it’s yours). There is a possibility than anything can be rectified as long as there is life.