Note to all y’all bloggy readers who are mothers of daughters: when they get to be 38-going on 39-years old? And when they tell you to stop riding them like they are fucking teenagers? Listen before they burst into tears. Listen before it becomes a big THING. Because you know what? They will be grown ass women then, and this sort of drama sucks balls. And your daughters really want to spend time with you. They just hate it when you act like motherfucking assholes.
It’s probably a good idea to hold back long before your daughters are 38 or 39, or before they’re even teenagers. Why not start early, and call it good enough if the grades and table manners are acceptable and the chores and homework get done? I’ve long since heard of the “good enough” mother–why can’t some parents accept “good enough” daughters?
(I think it’s because flaws or imperfections in family members remind us of our own flaws, and we’re usually even less forgiving of ourselves than we are even of family members when it comes to imperfections and failures. So we externalize our self-loathing and turn it against those we claim to love most. Nice, huh?)
10 thoughts on “Word to your mother”
Fortunately we at grumpy rumblings are ourselves perfect, and thus have no flaws or imperfections to be reminded of. 😉
(Also right now our biggest (really, only) complaint with our daughter is that she stop playing with her pee. Also occasionally her poo, which is even more gross.)
I have two teenage daughters (15 & 16). And I read Dr. Crazy’s post with great interest. They do well in school, are lovely to travel with, and haven’t made any life-changing mistakes. So I generally try to overlook the well, more difficult aspects of living with them. And will miss them awfully when they are gone. But Dr. Crazy helped remind me to treat them with respect as they age.
I heartily endorse this message.
My kid is 15 now, and I have been practicing backing off since she was two.
You ought to (in my opinion) make more and more (and more) things your kid’s business as the kid gets older. When she was six, she started choosing her own clothes (except that I made her wear socks in the winter).
When she was eight, she got to start making her own decisions about what she did with her hair.
When she turned thirteen, I told her it was her business what she ate and if she ate anymore — we still provide meals, but what she puts on her plate and if she eats any of it is up to her.
And so on.
Widgeon: can’t believe you have mid-teenagers. I think I met Mr. W. when you had *one* newborn.
I wonder if feminist mothers are for the most part more reflective on issues of autonomy and power w/r/t their children. I would hope so, in any case, but I think it’s probably something that even many feminist mothers have to think about and check themselves on sometimes.
In reading and writing some history of childhood stuff lately, this has been on my mind a great deal. It seems to me that most feminist historians of childhood are more willing to recognize children’s agency and autonomy, and appropriately so.
Why do we ever think that we know better than our kids? My two oldest were self motivated. My youngest: “the teacher is a moron” implied he doesn’t do homework. There is nothing I could do except talk about it. My youngest grow to be an amazing individual.
All you can do is discuss and express your opinions.
Ditto what koshembos says: All you can do is discuss and express your opinions.
That has been our household approach from the start, apart from a few basic safety issues (and hands in pockets in the store, thank you). I talk a lot about how values and life experiences interact and guide the way I live my life but I also talk about understanding the same for other people.
Just last night I made a hasty judgement about a person’s action being “bad” and of the kids caught me on it, suggesting that the behavior might just reflect the way that person knew how to survive. This is excellent.
God, so timely! I’m freaking 50, and I just had an interaction with my mother in which she re-enacted an interrogation technique from 35 years ago with uncanny precision. And, like Crazy, it makes me not want to spend time with her at all.
I’d also like to think feminist mothers are more reflective on issues of autonomy and power. I’m heartened by things I see in the mommy-blogosphere (for the all the bad rep it gets, frequently deserved). There’s a lot of conversation now about respect for autonomy, especially bodily autonomy. I teach my kids about consent every day by respecting their bodies – if they say no kiss or no hug, then no kiss or no hug. (Of course bodily autonomy has its limits in the world of small children, who must be restrained in car seats and from running around parking lots, etc.) I’m amazed by the ways in which I catch myself asserting power over the children for no reason other than to assert power (it’s easier or I feel like it). Or I have to ask myself, why am I making a big deal about this? Doesn’t it really matter? Spoiler alert: the answer is usually no! My feminist consciousness gives me a chance to see these moments and interrogate them.
I’ve been in the situation recently where the power-dynamics were reversed for the first time with my parents. They were dependent on me, and I started to see what aging would mean for them and how difficult it would be for them to start giving up bits of autonomy.
Oh, squadratomagico: I’m sorry!
“I’m amazed by the ways in which I catch myself asserting power over the children for no reason other than to assert power (it’s easier or I feel like it)”
I think it’s hard NOT to hug or kiss a child when you want to, and yet if he or she says don’t, then it’s important not just because of autonomy issues, but because presumably we want them to draw boundaries around their bodies and expect those boundaries to be respected. I would WANT a child of mine to get angry or just get the hell away from someone who’s not listening, and I believe you would too, perpetua. Thanks for bringing up this point.
Posted over at Crazy’s place:
Riding to the rescue from Historiann’s ranch: Rita Mae Brown –> Gloria Steinem July 28 1976 (this would be approximately the say my own mother creeped my journal and found out I was a lesbian):
“My mother, two months ago, read Rubyfruit Jungle. AS we say down south, she cleared off a space and showed her ass. Threw an incredible hissy or, in the words of the North, she was bullshit mad. Tore the offending material up and threw it in the garbage. Then she had the audacity to call me long distance and give me a piece of her mind, a rancid piece to be sure….told her if she thought she was the mother in that book to review her past. More piffle from Mother Brown. So I said, ‘Look Ma, if hte shoe fits, take it off.’ End of that conversation.”