Being the mother of adult children involves more listening than telling. I know this. Except this week… when my golden rule of adult parenting was forgotten in favor of my old telling ways. So where does a mother go from here? Well….as a first step, being fresh out of the school of hard knocks, I’ll wipe the slate clean to write some new rules—100 times on the blackboard–in hopes that I can somehow commit these to feeble memory.
Rule #1: I must never use the royal ‘we’ when addressing one of my adult children. I learned this while caring for the ‘grands’ when Kate was up to her eyeballs in nursing school stress. Needing a well-deserved break, Kate casually mentioned she’d be going on a date Saturday night. She wasn’t asking my permission. She was telling me and I was supposed to be listening. But instead, I reverted to telling. “Kate, we don’t have time for a guy in our lives right now.” My Jiminy Cricket of a husband was quick to bring me to my senses: “Now, tell me honey. Who is this we?” It was time for this ‘live-in-infamy’ motherly faux pas to end with one big apology.
Rule#2: I must never use the word “why” at the beginning of any question to a child over the age of eighteen. The use of ‘why’ implies that the questioning mother possesses some innate perfect knowledge that makes her more equipped to save her child from some dreadful mistake. Considering who I am, and who my children are, there is no way this could possibly be. Enough said here. And enough said last night, once Kara got my apology.
Rule#3: I must never offer a stream of consciousness list of ‘ought-to-dos’ to a responsible adult child who so rarely asks for assistance of any sort–like yesterday, when my eldest son asked me to help him draft a letter and I proceeded to offer him many other tidbits of motherly wisdom that he had not been in the market to hear. What can I say? Except for…. I’m sorry Bryan.
Rule#4: I must never imply that one of my adult children is not a good driver. To be half-way successful at this, I must keep my mind from drifting back to past driving malfeasances, such as the time Kyle backed his truck into a sheriff’s cruiser in the Dairy Bar parking lot. That was then and this is now. We both have many more miles on us now. And we both know better. So Kyle, please forgive me.
A good old fashioned, equal opportunity apology is always a strong second step. Because love doesn’t mean never having to say you’re sorry. And it’s so telling that the author who thought it did never mothered adult children. Or played the part of “Mother” in a high stakes real life one-sided game of Mother May I?