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Monday, 18 June 2001

Things My Mother Said

Written by  Miriam Lock

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When I was growing up, there were things my mother used to say that always made me mad. I was determined I would never say the same things to my own kids. Now, at 44 with three growing children, I occasionally hear myself saying, "Sit up straight" and "don't eat with your mouth full" and "if you don't stop fighting in the car, we're going to stop and let you off. And you can walk home." I tell my kids to put hand creme on so their skin won't be dry, and to get off the phone (my daughter, mostly) I often repeat stories from my life that can teach them lessons. Thank God all the things I tell them are for their own good! And I realize, of course, that when my mother said those things to me, she was simply telling me what was for my good. My mother sometimes told me to take a walk around the block when I was upset. Though of course I didn't want to hear her advice, I eventually learned that taking a walk around the block can be a constructive activity. Now my kids walk (not necessarily when I tell them to). My nine-year-old once said, "Remember Mommy, when I was angry and you told me to take a walk around the block? Well, it works!" At that moment I knew I was doing a good job. When most of my friend's moms didn't want them to wear makeup, my mother was encouraging me to wear it. She told me that makeup and the right haircut make a girl feel good. I bounced from thinking I must be ugly to need makeup to feeling I couldn't leave the house without it.

I was determined I would never say the same things to my own kids When I find myself saying something like "sit up straight", the words come from somewhere deep inside of me.Mothers pass on to daughters who pass on to their own daughters the secrets of motherhood.

When I find myself saying something like "sit up straight", the words come from somewhere deep inside of me. I know it is unhealthy to slouch and I want my kids to know it. They generally listen to me, they're good kids, and I even remind them that I got the idea from their grandmother. While I am different from her in a thousand ways, I have to admit that sometimes we do think alike. It gives me pleasure to pass on some of her unappreciated wisdom to my kids.

My eighteen-year-old daughter, on the other hand, is totally different than I was at her age. She tells me to wear makeup now, and says that she watches me when I leave the house to make sure I'm dressed right. Although she's always asking for money for something, her taste and sense of what's looks right is impeccable. She also has a wonderful sense of self-confidence, which I attribute to what a great kid she is and what a wonderful mother she has. She is facing changes and decisions about her future that can be frightening and disconcerting, but she is stepping forward like a trooper. She's ready to experience and live, to find her way. I at forty-four understand that I still have more of my own choices to make and new directions to go in. I also look at my mother, who at seventy-eight is energetic and looking for new challenges. She doesn't want to accept the fact that life won't go on forever and I understand why.

Sometimes I "get a kick" out of hearing myself repeat tidbits of advice that were soaked into my head as a child. I keep hand creme in the kitchen like my mother did, I cannot tolerate a slouching child, or worse a little girl whose hair gets in her face while she is eating. I think that a good walk can help anyone with their problems, and its true, walking has helped me sort out my feelings many times.

Mothers pass on to daughters who pass on to their own daughters the secrets of motherhood. As much as we want to be different and unique and not too much like our mothers, it really is good to take a little bit of them with us.

I remember once a few years ago when my daughter was away on a school trip. I went into her room to put away clean clothes and make her bed. I suddenly found myself looking at her posters, her clothes, her photographs of herself and her friends and I felt this delicious sensation of being sixteen. She's a fascinating combination of an artist and sports fan, dog-lover and clotheshorse and has more friends than I will ever count. She is usually on the run, yet she loves to curl up with a book or draw. I stretched out on her bed for a few minutes and wondered what it must be like to be a sixteen-year-old girl in 1998. I wonder what tidbits of advice she'll be giving her daughter./p>

Last modified on Thursday, 21 April 2011 13:58
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Miriam Lock

Miriam Lock is a writer on social and medical issues.

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