One of my favorite memories of how my mom handles me is from the year when I was working in London. Someone in the group of friends that I had made learned the British Telecom code for the pubic payphone at a particular pub. Now, if you had the code – the code used by Telecom workers– you could use the phone for free. I was a bartender making zero money and spending what I did, so I did not have money for long distance calls and email wasn’t really part of life back then (yes, apparently I’m that old). So, I’d go to that pub and call home. Inevitably, this meant some pints were involved and I’d then cheerfully chat away on the phone. One of the times I called, Mom says “So, you’ve mentioned this guy named Richard a lot recently. Who is he?” Of course, she says this in a very casual way so as not to set off my privacy alarms. I answered, “Oh, me and Richard just fool around a lot.” At that time I literally meant that we were joking around. Mom says, “Well, as long as you’re using protection…”
That’s my mom. She never panics. Or openly judges or pressures. She keeps communication open by saying, in a non-committal tone, “OK…. What about…” It’s the teacher in her. She is brilliant with kids and people of all ages. I don’t think she realizes how much people like her and want to be around her.
I remember a family dinner at some point in my teenage years. My family always had dinner as a family. Even when my brother and I were obnoxious little teenage assholes. I think that’s why we’re such a strong family who gets along to this day. And at this particular dinner that I remember so well, my mom said to me, “Welcome back.” I had been telling a story or saying something about my day, and I was confused by Mom saying this. “What do you mean? I didn’t go anywhere.” She told me that I had been an unpleasant person for a while now, and that I was back to being interesting. And then we went on with the dinner conversation. This is how my mom handled me. And it works. She handles my willful and stubborn personality so that I often don’t even see the “handling” going on. If I see the “handling” or someone tells me what I should do, I will resist and very possibly do the opposite. Or worse– I will shut the person down. My mom is brilliant and figured this out a loooonnnnggg time ago.
When I was 16 and had no intention of going to college because I was going to go to Los Angeles and play guitar in a band, I told this to my parents. No reaction. My mom just said, “OK” and shrugged. Had they argued with me and told me how ridiculous this plan, of course, was, I would have been forced to stick to it for much longer than I did. But with their course of action, it opened the door for me to change my mind when I was ready, which I obviously did, without embarrassment. That’s the genius of my parents. My mom never reacted with blame, guilt or pressure. I was and am super lucky to have won the mom lottery, because without such a brilliant mom, it is very likely that my stubborn idiocy would have gotten me into ridiculous amounts of trouble.
I can only hope to grow into becoming the kind of woman that my mom is. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Love you!