I became a fighter in life because a lot of awful circumstances forced me to be proactive. Quite frankly, no one else was going to get me out of the morass I found myself in whether it was a bad marriage, unfair workplace situation, or health crisis. In weathering those many life crises, I’ve toughened up and learned to stand my ground, plead my case, and get results. Those are not necessarily bad things.
I’ve frequently thought, too (always in hindsight), that if my parents had raised a “princess” (a woman used to everyone else facilitating her needs), I’d never have been able to weather the significant storms of my life—or at least not done so with the success I’ve achieved.
Sometimes I needed to step up to the plate and fight back against powerful aggressors (at times, that adversary was institutional, as in “job” or it might have been the medical industry), powerful opponents who would have devoured me and my family if I weren’t a worthy contender.
Time after time, my response was necessary when I least needed further turmoil, but that process toughened me. In addition, those experiences taught me a lot of useful knowledge along the way.
However, at times I forget that my children’s life journey should be their own, affording them similar opportunities to learn (in other words, I want to “soften” their experience). I should remember to steer clear of offering advice because I never liked know-it-alls telling me what to do: They didn’t know the situation; they were ignorant of the players; their answer was frequently too simplistic and unmindful of special circumstances affecting the dilemma. To me, their naivete was infuriating.
I had a girlfriend once (note the word “had”) who fancied herself a wise dispenser of unsought counsel, insinuating herself into any of my problems she felt needed fixing. She considered herself brilliant (at problem solving) even though her track record in life suggested otherwise. I tolerated her advice until I could do it no longer.
But as mother, I admit: I frequently forget this when interacting with my own children.
Recently, my younger daughter had a concern, shared it with me, and I immediately went into Mother Mode. That’s the change-in-a-flash transformation of Moms everywhere to “Fixer of Crises.” But she interrupted me, saying: “You know, sometimes I don’t need an answer; I just want you to listen.”
“Wow!” I thought, “That’s amazing. I never even considered that.”
You see, over many years, we mothers have had to be mistresses of problem-solving. No surprise there, for it’s pretty much a requirement of child-rearing. After all, Moms address the many accidents, falls, and small disasters affecting little ones over the years.
Then, there are the years of “the Great Divide,” when adolescents share almost nothing with parents in their zeal to become persons, in their own right. When this phases passes, mothers are happy to resume any recognition.
So, when an older “child” begins to share a concern, Mom’s eyes glaze over and another personality takes over, saying something like: “OK, this is what I think you should do …blah…blah…blah.” Mothers can’t help it; they don’t even know they’re doing it.
Instead, we should have the faith we taught them well… that they’ll see themselves out of the maze. If they flounder, that’s OK, too, for they grow through the process, just as we did in those situations.
So, when she says: “This happened and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it,” avoid the prompt you think you heard, recognizing she doesn’t necessarily want your “Mom Solution.”
That restraint is important for a selfish reason, too. We’ll probably need them down the line, when our health fails and we’re less independent. Then, we’ll want disciplined and effective advocates whose problem-solving skills are honed on meeting and overcoming crises.
Biddy doesn’t know about you, but she wants her advocate to be a warrior, schooled on life experience, for that (we know) is the best teacher. But tell us what you think on this matter in the Comment section at the bottom of this post. Click on one of the buttons, too, to send this post to others who might appreciate its message.