When it comes to motherhood, it’s hard to say who shapes who more — the mother or the child. And even though moms parent with varying moments of warmth, understanding, rigidity, and spontaneity, devotion remains at the heart of each and every one.
But mom’s unconditional love doesn’t mean her methods are always easily understood. My mom was an amazing woman full of love and gentle guidance, but there were plenty of times I didn’t grasp her reasoning. It wasn’t clear to me why she’d lead me to independence only to keep me on what sometimes felt like a short leash, or why she trusted me, but not necessarily those around me. Before I was a mother, I didn’t understand that to her I was everything — her only child; the greatest love of her life.
If I had to round up the biggest quandaries that defined my development, these eight momisms perhaps say them best:
1. “Friendships in threes are hard.”
Growing up next door to two besties, there wasn’t a week that went by when two of us weren’t on the outs with the third (and we each took turns being the third). My mom used to always say, “Friendships in threes are hard,” and she was right, although that’s not to say our friendship wasn’t worth the sometimes struggle. Just ask Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe.
2. “Piano lessons are a privilege.”
From the ages of 4-12 I was, ahem, “privileged” to take approximately 416 piano lessons. And even though I made a solemn promise to myself that I would never, ever, under any circumstance insist the same of my child, those piano lessons taught me a lot about patience, perseverance, and even posture. Plus, I can still play the theme to Ice Castles … SO WORTH IT.
3. Half of all money goes to savings.
It didn’t matter whether my grandpa slipped me $5 on the sly or my aunt mailed me $20 in a birthday card, my mom hijacked half of all money I received to deposit into my savings account. Giving up half of the mad money I’d spend on Hello Kitty gel pens and Bath & Body Works glitter lotion wasn’t easy, but saving enough money to purchase my first used car made it worthwhile.
4. Allowing me to play hooky from school.
For as Type-A a mom as she was, she’d let me ditch school a few days a year for a little mother-daughter bonding time. At the time I thought my mom was just being uncharacteristically cool, but I now understand that these mommy-daughter ditch days were her way of staying connected to me at an age when I would have rather done anything than actually hang out with my mom.
5. “Nothing good happens to a teenager after 10PM.”
I remember exactly what I was doing when my mom said this, the most outrageous claim my teenage ears had ever heard. Even though I swore she was so wrong, 10PM did seem to mark the time the real fun started.
6. “I don’t know that friend, so I don’t think so.”
If my mom didn’t know you, the time I spent with you outside of school was pretty limited. It was like she knew that if you were up to good things (and only good things), she’d have already known you. And dammit if she wasn’t right.
7. Waiting up for me at night while pretending she wasn’t.
Living at home during college, late nights were a pretty standard occurrence. As a notoriously early riser, my mom had no business being awake at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. Yet there she was, watching TV or organizing the family photos because she “got busy and lost track of time.” Yeah right, and bless you, Mom.
8. “Call your grandparents.”
For every huffy dial my mom ever made me angrily stab into my cordless phone, the moments spent talking to my grandparents remain among my most cherished.
What do you understand about your mother now that you are one?