“Sometimes the best thing you can do as a parent, is keep your mouth shut. My mother just listened .. and let me talk. What a gift that was.” – Diane Keaton this morning, on the Today Show
What are the most important lessons your mother taught you?
I have seen the topic quite a bit recently in the news .. especially as we approach Mother’s Day. I’ve been asked that particular question by friends recently as well. And, it is a question I have been pondering myself, always have, but more and more as I work to navigate the ever changing waters that are motherhood.
Especially through divorce.
I have been trying to write for the past week, without much success, about some of the challenges facing us at the moment.
Much of it is relatively small in the grand scheme of things ..
.. like making sure we’re out the door each morning in time to get to school on time. Or .. navigating the increasing mood swings she’s having as she heads toward her tween years. (This will be fun to write about). Responding – or not to the occasional tantrum (of which we have not had one since that dreadful first night of spring break). Listening to her constant push for a later bedtime as she gets older and balancing that with her need to get enough sleep. Listening to her ask for anything that means more responsibility. Yet struggling with how some of the most basic things she needs to do and is reminded of, she can’t somehow seem to get done. Her being upset with me as I ask her to leave the cats alone and instead focus on her homework. Not allowing any talking back and providing appropriate consequences when she does. Keeping track of my jewelry, clothes or shoes ..as she can now fit into most of them… stuff like that.
I realized only this morning, just how similar a size we now are .. when I grabbed her rainboots to run out to the car.
And they fit.
As she grows and things are changing rapidly, some of these conversations and reflections will be easy and somewhat fun to write about. And for her to have to reflect upon.
The problem is ..
There are bigger issues and conversations happening behind the scenes right now that are tough. And are very big picture. And that should stay behind the scenes, for now.
Especially because, we all know, that even in marriage parents don’t see eye to eye.
So what do you do, what is best to do, when it comes to divorce. And your child’s future. When you have two separate homes. And two very strong, well meaning opinions that can’t quite merge.
Going back to the original question above, one many seem to be asking in their lives at this particular moment:
I believe the best advice I ever got from my own mother .. that I am relying on to get me through some of the smaller challenges of the day to day and of raising a child .. never came through actual words.
It came through her smile. And her laughter. Her ability to do both in the face of chaos. And as Diane Keaton so eloquently stated this morning about her own mother, it was my mom’s ability to listen and respond in a way that, even if it was unintentional at the time, would ultimately help me take responsibility for my own actions and grow.
I’m not sure laughter and a smile are going to help on some of what is before us ..
I’m hoping there will be occasions however, where it won’t hurt either. And in the meantime, I look forward to always working on my listening skills.