Over the years, I quickly dismissed most of the advice my mother gave me. She wasn’t witty or wise. She expressed her worries and regrets as criticisms and directives for living a life that didn’t interest me.
Occasionally, her advice would be both annoying and comical, as when she spent the first week of my son’s life trying to convince me that if I did not tape his ear against his head it would, “stick out funny the rest of his life.” It didn’t.
Mostly, though, her advice was forgettable.
What I learned from my mother – both good and bad – I learned by her example.
It’s intimidating to think about, but being a parent means having everything you say and do scrutinized by your children. With their spouses one day, they’ll be analyzing it all, peppering their conversations with “We’ll never do that.”
When I began my motherhood journey, my list of I won’t was considerably longer than the list of ways in which I wished to emulate my mother.
Over the past twenty three years of parenting, though, my sympathy for my mother has grown.
My parenting style never came to resemble my mother’s, and she never stopped giving me unwanted advice.
Unsolicited Advice became part of a new list of Things Not to Do to Adult Children, most of which fell under the resolution Let My Children Lead their Own Lives.
Keeping that resolution has been a learning process, the one that has greatly increased my sympathy for my mom.
Watching my mother be the parent to an adult who was sometimes struggling, I could see her pain. Watching her learn – slowly – to swallow her words, to – eventually – not swoop in to rescue, and to – finally – be quietly supportive when I knew she wanted to scream and cry.
It took a long time, but after nearly fifty years of parenting, amazingly, she let go. Not every problem was her problem to solve. Not every mistake was hers to point out and correct. Not every circumstance required her advise.
I doubt she feels this way, but in my eyes, these last few have been her finest years of parenting.
Letting go is probably the hardest lesson she learned, and the one she taught the best.
Just in time, too, because I already have adult children whom I, at times, want to swoop down and rescue. Ones who need to figure out life on their own. Ones for whom I am praying earnestly. Ones who probably wish I gave a little less unsolicited advice.
This post is part of a Generation Fabulous Blog Hop. Would you like to read more of the lessons we’ve learned from our mothers? Click here.