“Mother” stood away from us with her back to us, and we took turns asking, “Mother, may I…” Take two steps forward? Jump two steps to the right? “Mother” could say yes, you may or no, you may not, and we were supposed to listen to her. “Mother” wanted to maintain her position and did her best to slow us down. If we forgot to say “Mother may I,” our requests were automatically refused. The first person who reached “Mother” was the winner.
Fortunately our mothers were not playing games about our growing up. As we learned to walk, our mothers encouraged approximations of correctness and overlooked our spills and wipeouts; they cheered us on.
Though they may want to slow the process down, growing up and away are the goals of parenthood. How do you know that behind your back your child is taking a step in the right or wrong direction? Know their friends. Their true friends will first, celebrate your child’s success and second, ask you for help when your child is going off course.
Mothers want their children to be happy and many fear, correctly, that growing up prematurely impedes their children’s life satisfaction. In fact, children who are excluded from adult conversations and concerns are happier than are children who have absorbed too much information.
When your child catches up to you in his stride, you may feel that you are losing ground and that your child no longer needs you. They do need you but in different ways.
The conversations change. Mother may I talk to you? Mother may I meet you for coffee? Mother may I come over? Mother are you there?
Like Sophia Loren said, “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”