I will never say…like my mother did
How many times have I said, “I will never say…like my mother did” or “I will never do…the same way my parents did”? I’m sure there are countless things about the generations before us that we swore we’d never do. And yet as we mature, experience life and wisdom begins to invade the deeper recesses of our minds we find ourselves unable to say anything other than that which we’ve heard ringing in our own ears.
When I was your age
As a young mom, I’m quite certain an unspoken promise I made to myself was that I would never use the phrase, “when I was your age” on my own children. I mean really, how ineffective is that tactic anyway. Children roll their eyes, sigh with exasperation, you can see exactly what they’re thinking, “yeah well, you’re not my age anymore!” As a child you honestly think your parents have NO CLUE what life is really like.
The other day I caught myself listening to my four children with a sense of foreboding. They were all thoroughly exasperated at my inability to see why it would be a benefit to me if I allowed them to cart ALL the devices in our home along on a 30 minute drive. James and I have purposefully chosen to avoid vehicles with built-in entertainment units and try to limit the use of portable ones for actual road trips. We love music, as do all of our children and having that blaring as we drive down the road is about as much chaos as we need during the short intervals of travel that break up our days. I fail to see the value, for my own children, in turning on a movie for the short 5 minute trip to school or to get gas, or to the grocery store. I want my children to look around, to see beauty as they traverse the world, to understand that creation is wonderful and unique and part of their life experience. They can’t see, hear, feel, know these things when they have their faces quite literally stuck, to a box.
You didn’t just say that
Anyway, back to the “foreboding”…I knew before the words crossed my lips that I was about to cross into dangerous territory. And before I could stop it the unspoken promise was shattered to pieces. “When I was your age, we went on road trips that involved hours and hours of travel. We didn’t have iPhones, laptops, iPads, DS’s or anything of that nature. We actually had to look out the window and play games like I-Spy or the Alphabet game. In fact, we barely stopped for bathroom breaks. So you should consider yourself lucky that you even have the option to bring along some entertainment AND as an added bonus if you need to stop and pee there is likely a MacDonald’s or Tim Hortons every 10 minutes or so.” There was silence, my husband had the most amused look on his face, my kids looked both stunned and about ready to break into hysterics. Finally James looked at me and with a shake of his head responded, “you did not. just. say. that!!!” Of course, I did…what kind of mother would I be if somewhere along the line my children did not receive the sage words of wisdom and reason that every child in every home has heard at some point or another.
Yes, yes I did just say that. I tried not to exaggerate but in true kid form they took it to the far extreme, “what you didn’t have bathrooms growing up?”. We laughed and joked about how hard done by their dad and I were as kids. It made me relive the times I’d sat around the table with my own parents and brothers laughing, as my parents told us that we were lucky to only have a 10-minute walk to school because when they were our ages they had to walk to and from school, uphill both ways, in snow that was 10 feet high. Obviously childhood looks different in every generation, as the world changes so do the experiences of our youth but the fact remains that we can learn valuable lessons from our parents and their experiences. I guess in the end sounding like my mother is probably a good thing. She taught me some valuable lessons about life and I have the great privilege of passing those down to my own children.
What kinds of things did you promise yourself never to say to your own children that your parents said to you? Are you glad your parents shared them now that you have your own children to raise?