Being Wise... taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 38
There are lots of questions I have asked my mother that for some reason or another she has not been able to answer. I either get the "I can't remember" answer or the kind of blank stare with a less than satisfying response. So honestly, I have stopped asking questions that require her to divulge anything that is too personal or too 'deep.' And I've accepted that our relationship and the conversations we have will remain at the surface.
So in the perfect world with the perfect relationship - which of course doesn't really exist, what would I ask this mother figure of mine? Well I think of some of the questions I did ask my grandmother that allowed me to create a loving, intimate bond with her during the last six years of her life. I asked her questions about her... "What was it like growing up during the depression?" "Why did you marry Grandpa?" "Tell me about you and Grandpa dancing at big dance halls?" "What did you never do that you always wanted?" She would always answer my questions, and sometimes the answers would be, "I don't know Christine, that is just how life was back then." And I began to realize that this woman was a unique person with her own dreams and desires AND she was also the product of her generation of women. And even though she worked full time, was a divorced mother in the early 1950s when you just didn't leave your husband, supported her mother, and wasn't afraid to share her opinions, she also believed that you did what your husband wanted to do... that you played it safe financially... and that it was the woman's job to worry about her family. Of course some of her choices made me crazy!! But her answers also endeared me to her, because she was honest, and in that honesty I got to know not only the wonderful woman that was my grandmother, but I also got to understand an entire generation of women.
She was part of the inspiration that led me to start this blog and Girltalk... that we may understand each other as women first so that we can heal ourselves, our world and live the lives we were meant to live. Christine Arylo is an inspirational catalyst for women and founder of Madly in Love with ME http://www.madlyinlovewithme.com
Olive, age 14, says:
Unlike most kids, I can talk to my\mother about anything. It doesn't always go down well if she finds out that i was on the computer instead of doing homework but then at least I've told her the truth. I find though that my case is very rare.
First of all, most kids "hate" their parents. Some of them do have good reasons but I don't have any reasons to hate my parents. They feed me, love me, support me, put a roof over my head, etc. I just don't have a good reason.
My parents give me a lot of freedom which is what most parents don't give their kids. This is a main reason why kids "hate" their parents. If the parents don't let them go and take public transportation by themselves or at least with a friend it is only telling the child that "I am way to protective over you" and/or "I don't trust you". Some parents could argue that they are just doing this because they are just protecting you but if you protect your kid too much, when they go off to college they will be scared out of their minds! Can you imagine if your parents NEVER let you just go and hang out with your friends even at a safe place like a mall? They would be so un-independent! We risk our lives everyday and it's important to let your kids take a few risks too otherwise they will end up scared, alone, and afraid. That doesn't really sound like fun, does it?Janet, age 24, says:
I have always wanted to have a very real conversation about her life experiences when she was in her 20s. My mom has taught me to live with no regrets, but I want to hear about what she would have done differently and when she had the best times. I would love to know what her advice would be to herself in her 20s. We have talked about her college experience and the way she lived her life, but I want to know how decisions she made in her 20s have shaped her life 30 years later. She is my best friend and confidant, and I know her 20s were filled with many ups and downs because of the way she talks about that time of her life. I want to know what moments in her life were difficult for her and how it shaped her. My mom has so much strength and hearing about her life experience gives me an insight as to how her life has taken shape.
I find my 20s have been filled with many challenges that I couldn't anticipate which make life even more fun! Some have been easier than others to get through, but my mom has always been there with sound advice to help me. She doesn't have to reference a specific time of her 20s, but I think her advice stems from her experience. When I am having a tough time with my brothers, she talks to me about her relationships with her brothers during that time of her life. The wisdom she shares is invaluable to me.
Another questions I haven't asked my mom is how she became such a great parent. I would love to know what life experiences have helped to shape her parenting skills. As a stay at home mom, she has raised 4 children with strong values, opinions, and independence. My brothers and I know we can always call her to talk about anything. My mom taught us how to walk with our heads high and stay true to ourselves. My childhood was filled with great memories of being with her at home, running errands, and great vacations. She really did it all for us and made sure we all happy. I admire the way my mom has always stayed true to herself. She is always following her dreams; because of her I have always followed mine. Jenn, age 36, says:
I am very grateful that I have a close relationship with my mother (who lives in PA). I share a lot with her, am authentic, and ask the questions that are valuable to know. And with the recent passing of my grandmother, my mother and I have had even more deep conversations about family, death, beliefs, and purpose.
My parents are incredibly supportive of my unique work in the field of sex education and intimacy counseling. Even when I started a women's sex toy company a few years ago, my mom took it in stride and asked if I offered a senior citizen discount for her and my dad (which, incidentally, she thought was hysterical, while it made me cringe ☺).
My mom means the world to me.Three years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and a month later underwent a double mastectomy. It was such a terrifying experience, but remarkably she kept an amazing positive attitude throughout and continues to be healthy and thrive. We are always learning from each other, sharing our successes and crying over the fearful aspects of life. My biggest fear is losing my mother. I don't know that my mother knows that.
It's important to me to not compartmentalize my life and not have different facades depending on whether I'm interacting with friends, clients, lovers, family, or students. My career is my passion. My life is my passion. I wear my emotions and vulnerabilities on my sleeve. I never want to feel that I have to hide certain aspects of myself because they will be judged or not accepted. Oddly enough, with all the outright affection and nurturing between my mother and I, we don't end phone conversations with an "I love you." I know my mother knows how deeply I love and cherish her, but I guess this is a good reminder that it never hurts to be explicit with the depth of our feelings.Dr. Jenn is the founder of Dr. Jenns Den at http://www.drjennsden.com/
Anne, age 42
The one question I have always wanted to ask my mother is why did she marry my dad? Over the years, I've gotten some interesting responses to say the least. Such as "because he was the one" or "we had so much fun together" or my personal favorite, "because he was ready." I have a feeling the real
answer has yet to reveal itself.
What I think is that at the time my mother got married, she didn't feel like waiting was an option. She was 19 when they first started talking about it and in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1964, that's just what you did. I am sure she loved my dad, very sure. Unfortunately, she didn't feel she could make a decision that started with her. I don't think she has regrets, but I think
her psyche could accommodate gray.
For me, marriage is a dicey subject. I waited and explored and still did not
end up with a good situation. I wonder how my daughters will decide what is
best for them.Anne Wagner is a writer, branding expert and the founder of NovaStoria' http://www.novastoria.com
Shelley, age 50-something, says:
Believe it or not, the one thing I never asked my mother for was advice on how to have a healthy romantic relationship. Until recently, I was married for 30 years. So, on the surface it appears that I figured this one out - at least for 30 years. But not really!
My parents just celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. I truly believe they are a happy couple but when I was growing up I thought what I was observing was a not-so-happy couple. What I didn't understand at the time was that couples disagree. It's part of life. If everyone agreed on everything it would be a boring world! I think youth is wasted on the young. As I got older, my parents got wiser and so did I. But I never felt comfortable enough in my own skin when I was younger to muster up the courage to ask my mom how to keep the man in my life happy. Or how to be happy myself.
When I was a newlywed and my husband and I had our first argument, I remember wanting to rush to the phone and call mommy. I didn't do it. Something stopped me from taking that vulnerable moment and allowing my mother and her wisdom in to soothe me and comfort me. I think I got the "I can take care of myself" gene from her, actually. You might say we've both been stubborn. Once I got married, letting our hair down and being real with each other rarely happened. I found "extended family" to do that with over the years. But I feel I missed a golden opportunity to connect with her for all those years in that heart centered way.
So much water is under the bridge now, there's no need for me to think about what could've been. That's a waste of energy. What I do know is that both she and my dad love me, and I love them. If you are musing over something you want to talk to you mother about, or reveal to her, go for it. I wish I had all those years ago. Shelley Anderson is a celebrity personal assistant, and the author of the book and blog http://www.dealingwithdivas.com