Saturday, April 24, 2010

When Daughters Become Mothers: Game On!

My husband skipped town for the weekend.

Some 30th birthday guys only shindig.  A can't-say-no excuse for 15 grown men to leave their wives and children for two days of frisbee golf, video games and beer.

(And husband, if in reading that description the word "dork" pops into your head, please dwell on that thought and return with  renewed appreciation for your younger and cooler half.)

Anyhow, it is the weekend.  And he is gone.

And I am a weekend brat.

I completely refuse for my weekend to look just like my week (what with its dinnertime wars, rapid fire showers, and mandatory defecation clean-up).

So I run home to my mommy and daddy (three hours away).

And I look forward to it.   I really do.

I imagine sipping on hot coffee and painting my toenails while Grammy and Gramps go knee deep in poopy diapers and toddler tantrums.

But I forget about two things.

1. That I produced and expelled two complete mama's boys, fresh from the womb.

2. That the sharing of childrearing responsibilities comes at a price.  A price by the name of... mom!


Mom: "I don't like your hair."

Me: "Really?"

Mom: "Yeah, it's the bangs.  I don't like the bangs."

Me: "Why not?"

Mom: "They're just not blended very well.  Why, do you like it?"


Me (to toddler): "What do you want to drink?.... Actually, I'm just going to give you water.  You need to drink water with lunch.  It's not a choice today."

Mom: "You do give him a lot of choices.  You're always giving him choices." (In case that sounds like a good thing to you, add a derogatory tone and accusatory stare... yep, that should do it.)

Me: "No I don't.  You do."

Ah yes, eternally twelve in my childhood home.


Mom (to baby): "Your mom would have brought you a cloth bib.  I don't know why in the world anyone would use cloth bibs."

In my defense I prefer the plastic bibs at home, but go cloth on car trips to help absorb the mess.  So there.


Mom: "Should I just mix his oatmeal with skim milk?"

Me: "No, water is fine.  They're not supposed to have milk until they're a year."

Mom (both loudly and under her breath): "I gave you kids milk at six months and you survived."


I love my mom.

Really I do.

Good or bad, her world revolved around my sister and I.

She chaperoned every field trip, sewed for every musical, hosted every sleepover, study group, awkward middle school co-ed party.

She gives abundantly and in every way to her children, and now to her grandchildren.

I learned from her the meaning of generosity and forgiveness and devotion.

But sometimes, she drives me crazy.

It is a tug-of-war particular to mothers and daughters.  And it reaches its peak when daughters become mothers.

I used to hope it would end.

Now I just hold tight and try to stay out of the mud.

And even though we both may pull, we're really rooting for the other team to stay on dry land.


  1. I can totally relate. I love my mother to death and she is a great grandma to Hayden. She loves him immensely... but when we are together we tend to butt heads. We are similar (which doesn't help) and then when it comes to Hayden things can easily get tense. My son will prefer her and she babies him... It's not easy. But like I said, I love my mom. Sometimes it's just tricky!

  2. What a great post - the honesty with which you describe the relationship with your Mom is what makes it so. As you know I am now 46 and once I left home for University at 18 I never really went back. Living in different countries for so long I do not get to see my parents very often. With my sister, both my parents behave as your Mom does with you - always the parent still. With me the dynamic is different - until however I spend more than a few days with them, at which point they start reverting to parent mode like your Mom does with you. But if that happens I simply tell them I am not a child, I am a grown woman, an adult, and to treat me that way. It's hard for them to do but they do then try. Maybe it is time to have that conversation with your Mom.

  3. My mom used to be like that until I told her to stop or she wouldn't see my kids!!!

    But she still tells me she likes my hair shorter!

  4. What a great way of describing the push and pull of your relationship. I am fortunate in that I have never really had that from my mom but it's such a common theme that I hear from so many friends.

  5. I yi yi. I know what you mean. My parents watched the kids for 5 days while Hubs and I tra-la-la'ed off to NYC. But the fee came out of my soul.

  6. That last line is perfect. I used to have these struggles with my mother-in-law. She was the queen of making snarky remarks to babies that were actually directed at me. It's hard to balance the experience they have with the boundaries and respect we also deserve as daughter/mothers. Now someday, I'm sure, when I'm a grandmother, all that bunk will fly out the window as I proceed to tell my kids everything they're doing wrong. For now I'll just swear that I'll be different. ;)

    Love the bangs comment by the way. Only slightly bruised your ego, right?


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