Hey, you young mothers out there, you greenhorns and novices, take it from those of us who have been around the block about a thousand times and are still standing: Sometimes, parenting is a no-win situation. You are damned if you do; damned if you don’t.
I learned the brutally hard way.
Fact # 1 (and the only fact you really need to know): Daughters can be, uhmm, well, challenging. Sons aren’t a walk in the park either.
Over the years, I have tried various mothering techniques on my daughter who has to be dealt with much more circumspectly than her older brothers. Approaching the tempestuous girl is like approaching a hornet’s nest: You do it with caution, knowing that you’re probably going to get stung. Ouch. The approaches I’ve used have both failed, resoundingly and succeeded, moderately.
At times, the daughter is exceedingly emotional, a high dungeon drama queen and threatening to go off like a time-bomb. I have trained myself not to get caught up in the daughter-frenzy of emotions. We shall blame the angst on unbridled hormones that get the better of her once a month. I don’t know what’s wrong with her the rest of the time.
I empathize. Been there, done that and know how rioting hormones can pick you up, twist you around and inside out, messing with your mind and body. However, I also know that trying to reason with someone who is earnestly PMSing is a big waste of my time and usually ends up in a screaming match. (Daughter like mother, my husband says.)
The daughter is now 24 and I am now … well, let’s just say old and wise. She’s in law school. She’s smart, capable, and is far more sophisticated in many ways than her mama. However, she still has those moments when she reverts to fourteen and wants me to fix things for her. Abracadabra, fixed!
I can’t, of course. I know I can’t repair what’s gone wrong in her life. I have a hard enough time trying to fix my own faux pas. I also know, having learned the difficult way that I need to keep my mouth shut because nothing I say or suggest is going to be met with applause or approval from the daughter, even if she did ask for advice. If she didn’t, all the more reason to keep the pie hole shut. That’s just asking for trouble.
One time she said to me, “I texted so-in-so, and he didn’t text back. Why do you think he didn’t text back?”
Oh, no way I’m venturing into that one. It’s a trap; set up. In the past, when I was either a better mother or just an outright stupid mother I would have offered an explanation such as, “His phone is turned off.” “He’s sleeping.””He’s dead.” “He’s busy.” “He … didn’t want to respond to your text.” “He … is ignoring you.”
Can you see why I just sat here, in front of my computer, looked dim-witted, and chose to shrug in response? I didn’t even bother to so much as murmur, “Don’t know, honey.”
The cat has got my tongue and with good reason.
She gave me a snotty look and marched out of the room.
I think she was trying to entrap me. Isn’t that what lawyers do?
Well, ah, ha, I am finally too smart for that.
I don’t have the answers. I am clueless. How could I begin to come up with a plausible explanation that was going to satisfy her and not piss her off? Impossible! That’s what I mean about the no-win part. Just shut up and shrug.
You young mothers, you’ll learn in time. Sometimes it’s much better to refrain from engaging.