Saturday, April 03, 2010
Reinventing the Wheel
It seems ridiculous, but I'm becoming more open to the idea that each generation has to do it to some extent. It's a critical part of growing up and asserting our independence and testing our wings. That gradual pulling away from our parents that we do as we get older is vital for preadolescents and teens and, while it makes me sad, I know that it is most often associated with frustration, eye-rolling, anger, and disdain.
I distinctly remember the acidic, condescending attitude I had toward my mother as a teenager. I was certain that she was old-fashioned, obtuse, and completely wrong about most things. My respect for her was at an all-time low during my high school years (cringing, sorry Mom). As badly as I feel about it, I know that I had to push her away in order to find my own boundaries and test my own theories and discover whether I had what it took to come up with solutions on my own. Thankfully, I know that she didn't take most of it personally and I often only seethed inside because I would never have dared hurt her by saying out loud some of the things I thought.
When I had my first child, I began shoving her away again - determined to do things in as opposite a way as possible than she had. I was set - concrete hard - on making entirely different choices and being a completely different parent than she had. I very much wanted her to be a part of my family's life, but it was so important to me that she recognize that this was MY family and she was here as an invited guest. I am certain that I made many mistakes along the way, not taking into account the wisdom and knowledge she possessed as a result of her years of parenting, and while part of me (the perfectionist bit) regrets that, I know that had she offered advice, it would have fallen on deaf ears anyway, and the actual tripping over my own feet was what helped me to learn how to walk as a mother.
From time to time I find myself doing a task just the way my mother did it and I realize that, while I came to this particular way of doing something through trial and error, it turns out that maybe my mom did have it right. I'm not certain whether these occasional flashes of insight will lead me to ask for her advice in the future, but they do have the effect of adding an additional layer of respect for her and reminding me that I still have some growing up to do.
I hope that I can remember these lessons as Eve and Lola grow up and push me away from them. I hope that I can have as much grace as my mother as they roll their eyes and huff annoyed breaths and stomp away from me. I hope that I can refrain from offering unwanted advice and simply recognize that it is their turn to reinvent the wheel.