Growing up, my relationship with my mother was stereotypical in many ways. As a rebellious teen, I’d find myself staring down a punishment I didn’t like or a rule I didn’t want to follow and—in opposition-- I’d voice how differently I would do things when I became a mother. Without fail, she’d smile a knowing smile and nod pleasantly. “I guess we’ll see about that, won’t we?” she’d say.
It wouldn’t be long before I had the opportunity to prove myself; I became a mother at the tender age of sixteen. In spite of my youth, mothering instincts took hold and I found myself acting in ways both protective and nurturing, fierce and gentle. Upon giving birth, something clicked within me and quite suddenly all of those parenting opinions I so recently touted seemed altogether wrong. I kept my mouth shut, of course, hoping that my mom wouldn’t call me on my change of heart.
No such luck.
Nevertheless, I’m a firm believer in the circle of life. In raising my own children, I’ve offered plenty of advice and predictions, sure as could be that my words would eventually prove true, much like those of my mother before me. When my oldest daughter was seven, I predicted that by the time she was in eighth grade, she’d be too embarrassed to trick-or-treat anymore—that she’d rather stay home and help me pass out the Halloween candy. But when October of that eighth grade year rolled around, indeed she was eager to dress up and go door to door. I might have thought she was only doing it to prove me wrong, but her friends were every bit as eager.
I’d love to be able to chalk it up to a simple mistake, but over and over again I find my words coming back to bite me.
Last Friday that same daughter had her wisdom teeth extracted. Oh, and that was an experience I knew all about! Not wanting her to be in for an unpleasant surprise, I warned her about the misery she was surely in store for. “I couldn’t eat normal food for weeks,” I truthfully told her. “That was the hardest part.”
“Not for me,” my husband chimed in. “The hardest part for me was the pain. That was the worst pain I’ve ever been in.”
These were not meant to be like those exaggerated walk-uphill-both-ways-barefoot type of stories. These were our true experiences, offered genuinely in the name of preparedness. You can imagine our surprise, then, when my daughter’s experience was far different. Far better, in fact. Even in spite of a dry socket setback, she bounced back from that surgery like it was a cakewalk. Not willing to admit defeat, I take partial credit for her easy experience; surely my dire warnings made her recovery painless in comparison. Or something like that.
I fear I’m beginning to sound a lot like the boy who cried wolf. And I can’t help but wonder if maybe all that motherly wisdom skipped a generation—namely mine. Lucky for me, I’ve cast a wide net. Surely something I’ve said will prove true. Eventually.