Thursday, May 27, 2010

Turning Into Mom

Growing up, I really couldn't understand my mother most of the time. hover-mom, party pooper, and dictator were just a few of the names I secretly gave her over the years. When it was time to look for colleges, she strongly voted for a school about 30 minutes by train from my home town, so I could spend my college years living under her wings. Luckily, my dad supported me in going for the other school offering my major that was too far away to commute every day (even my mom admitted that). So I went and applied, and received my preliminary acceptance letter before I even sat the finals. Four months later, after about a month of being majorly annoyed by my mom obsessing about my moving out, I finally entered my very own studio apartment that would be my home for the next 3 years.

Moving out was probably the best move I could have made to improve my relationship with my mom. Having some distance between us helped us actually to become closer. Our relationship improved further after I married shortly before graduating college (which she first adamantly opposed) and moved overseas with my new husband. My mom started to see me more as an equal than her little girl, and even sought advice from me. A good year later I was pregnant and later had our first daughter, and once again, our relationship improved (except for those 2 occasions my parents came visit us, since for some reason, we seem to need some distance between us to get along).

When our daughter was about a year old, I noticed for the first time, that I was actually taking on some of the opinions my mom had annoyed me with for as long as I can think. I had to bug her for about 2 years to allow me having a second set of earrings pierced, and when I came back from a trip to England with two more, she literally freaked out. At that point I decided better not to tell her about the tattoo I had gotten alongside the earrings. A couple of years and a few tattoos later, she finally caught on to my secret addiction when I bent over just a little too much to reveal the latest tattoo on my lower back (I did not reveal the complete body of art until after I was married and was pregnant with our first, at which point she had mellowed out a bit). I don't go into the details of the ensuing argument, but I can tell you, it wasn't pretty. At this point I wondered why she cared, that it was my body to do with as I pleased (and at least I wasn't drinking or smoking; tattoos won't give you cancer).

Now, with two daughters by myself, I come to understand her point of view. When I noticed it for the first time, I was almost horrified. How could I turn into my mom?? Well, it just happened. Richard and I had discussed that we would allow our daughters to have their ears pierced when they were old enough to ask for them and understand the ramifications (pain, risk of infection, etc.), piercings not before 16, and no tattoos until 18. We think this is fair to them. Now, however, only thinking of our girl walking up to me asking to have her ears pierced is painful. Whenever I look at her, I see my perfect little angel; imagining that one day she'll have earrings, piercings, and maybe even tattoos just makes me shuddering. I wished she'd always be my little girl (call me hover-mom), and never asked for having holes put through any part of her body or pictures needled under her skin. I can only hope that her "rebellion" will be to forgo tattoos and piercings, since unfortunately I will have absolutely no credible reasons to give her against it.

Will I ever tell my mom "now I understand you"? Depends, maybe one day. Until then I better watch my actions closely to not turn into my mom. I love her to death, but I want to raise my kids to become independent women who are able to take care of themselves. I know this is easy to say now and a completely different matter when the time comes to let go, but I would definitely not do them any favor hindering their personal development. While I love my daughters to death and would always be there for them, I also want them to be able to take care of themselves and make good decisions for their lives (whether I like them or not). Please, remind me of this post in future if necessary!

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