Do you know what having the title ‘mother’ means?
Don’t think it means you are adored and revered – let me stop you right there.
No, it means you are the one whose advice, warnings, and wisdom is completely disregarded.
Whatever comes out of your mouth is ignored, causes involuntarily eye-rolling, and may cause stomach upset.
It’s more harmful to your health than the newest pharmaceutical.
“Don’t do that, you are going to get hurt.”
I think I wake up saying that some mornings.
“No. No buts, just do what I say.”
Of course, I don’t know anything. I mean, what could a mother possibly know?
I can see the impending accidents that can occur and despite having no working knowledge of physics, can ascertain at what speed and velocity something will ricochet through the air to make contact with one’s head.
Maybe that’s mother’s intuition but who knows? That’s just as ignored as everything else.
“What don’t you put that up to keep it safe?” I ask.
The next day: “Oh, man…that’s ruined…”
“Mama…can you get me another one…”
Unfortunately, no; that was the last one.
“Didn’t I tell you?….”
Just the beginning of this phrase causes the rest of what comes out of my mouth to be muted.
Don’t try finding sympathy in the company of your own mother. If she is anything like mine she can remember every time you ignored her heedings. Mine will even side with my child just to pour salt in the wound.
“You never listened to me so why should he listen to you?”
“Maybe because I am right?”
Mama sighs, an exasperated, slightly dramatic sigh. “I am usually right, too, you know.”
“So far it hasn’t happened.”
Of course, when I was younger, I never thought for one moment she could be right. She was far too full of rules: telling me what to wear, what time I needed to be home, to watch what I was doing, and not stay up late on a school night. “If you know something is due, make sure you do it when you get the assignment – not the night before it’s due.”
I ignored her then, and, yes, I ignore her now.
“Make sure….have you…did you?”
Her statements are all peppered with constant warnings and advice.
“I am an adult, you know. I can do this,” is my retort.
A few days later – sometimes, it’s not even days but hours, actually – I am on the phone with her, asking her how to fix it.
“Can I ask you something? Why didn’t you listen to me to begin with?” she will ask.
How can I tell her that I am not supposed to listen to her? I am pretty sure it is written somewhere that while a mother can be adored and cherished, she is not necessarily listened to.
“Did you ever listen to Granny?”
She didn’t respond.
Granny would give Mama many words of wisdom, none of which my mother would take.
“She’s just being bossy and controlling,” is how Mama described the advice.
In hindsight, however, Granny was right.
She was right about a lot of things, like wearing a slip, even if you think you don’t need one so everyone else won’t see all your glory; never buying cheap shoes; and always making sure you look presentable before you head out, lest you want to run into everyone you know in town.
She was right and, as much as I hate to admit it, Mama is right about a bunch of stuff, too.
Having a son does increase the validity of what I may say, but not by much. I can tell my child what to do or, more accurately, not to do, and he will listen in as much as he feels applies to him and what he wants to do at that given time.
Our conversation usually follows a rhythm of me telling him not to do something and him declaring he knows what he’s doing.
This is typically followed by a thud or the sound of something crashing. “I’m alright,” he will call out, not too convincingly.
“Didn’t I tell you?…”
“Yes, Mama, you did…”
I sigh as I survey the damage. Wood floors can create pretty immediate bruising.
Didn’t I just tell him not try to run-slide in socks?
Did he listen?
Of course not.
When all else fails, just do what your Mama told you.