When I was in junior high I remember being with my mom and grandma as my grandma went on, in detail, about the various ailments she and her friends suffered from. When we were alone, my mom turned to me and pleaded, “Please tell me if I ever start doing that.” I distinctly remember laughing and reassuring her that she would never act like Grandma. They were polar opposites.
Fast forward thirty-five years, and as I prepared Thanksgiving dinner listening to my mom go on, in detail, about the various ailments she and her friends suffer from (and this isn’t new), I didn’t fulfill the promise I made in my teenage years, and I didn’t pull my teenage daughter aside to make her pledge the same thing.
For the last few days I have been asking myself why. Why I haven’t told her, and why I didn’t ask my daughter to take “the oath.”
I don’t love my mom more than she loved hers, and I have no doubt that someday I will make my daughter endure the same behavior. Actually, Mom and I have an open enough relationship that I could tell her and we would probably laugh, “Mom, remember when I was in junior high and…”
One reason, I think, that I won’t open that door is I became a mom a bit later than she did. When I was thirteen she was in her early forties. The aches and pains and curious behaviors that accompany “being a woman of a certain age” were in their early stages, if they were even present. Because I had my daughter a little later, there are some symptoms that she talks about that I have already started to identify with.
But more than that, when I take a look at what she has been through in the last decade, I am a bit in awe. She has had two hips and one knee (or two knees and one hip) replaced. Last spring she had back surgery. And through it all she and my dad continue to travel to Europe and Hawaii, spend the hot months at their home in the Midwest, and the cold months here in Arizona. My daughter still wants to spend some weekends with her Nana and Papa, and they have neverending enthusiasm for her 8th grade stories, soccer games, choir concerts, and requests to go shopping.
Even though we would laugh about it, I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t be fair to tell her she had turned into her mother in this one very minor respect. She’s EARNED it.
As for why I don’t make my fourteen year old daughter promise the same thing? Whatever it is she has to put up with from me in thirty-five years—she DESERVES it.