My mother called me two days ago to provide me with some unsolicited advice about a sensitive subject. After she was finished, and after we said our goodbyes, my mother’s unsolicited advice and her resolute voice resonated in my head. “Donna this is what you should do,”… She believes that she is always armed with “the right “decision to make on any topic imaginable. Despite my own original thought about a subject matter. A strong sense of satisfying my mother’s desires takes hold of me and makes me second- guess my own personal choices. I notice this especially concerning decisions which I have not successfully navigated in the past. She uses the same technique and it works every time!
Growing up my parents were very clear in voicing their expectations of me. I tried my best to obey their wishes. My mother was very good at quoting scripture. If I gave her any creative ways not to meet her expectations she would say, “Donna remember what the bible says, Honor thy mother and father so your days will be longer.” Wanting to be a dutiful and respectful daughter, of course I listened after that, as I didn’t want to let down my mother and God. I also thought that I wouldn’t mind a few extra days to live!
I’m not alone
Driving in the car with my good friend two weeks ago, who is also in her forties, she shared her desire to start a family, but she is divorced and has no immediate prospects for a husband. We spoke about non-traditional methods of having a baby and her first and very adamant response was, “I don’t want to let my mother down.” She continued to speak, sharing that her mother’s desire was the reason why she married quickly and she didn’t co-habitat first. My friend is convinced that if she cohabited with him, she would have not gotten married and her life may be different now. Even armed with the failure of her marriage, her mother’s expectations still hold sway over her and prevents her from making her own decisions.
Hearing your own voice
At this age, and past the age of twenty-five for that matter, your brain has matured to a point where making decisions should include the full scope of abstract and complex thinking. You should always consider the voice of your mother, but you should pay special attention to your inner voice, your needs, your desires and your dreams.
Learn to trust yourself… because that is where true happiness resides.
The thought entered my mind in a flash, “Let’s go Skiing!” I imagined that my daughters and I would drive up to the Catskills, rent a house, and go skiing at one of the many ski resorts in that area. My goal for the trip was laughter, talking and bonding with my daughters, Alleea and Kennedy. So we ventured off, along with two amazing friends. The weather was perfect, cold but not bitterly cold and with just enough snow to hit the slopes. “We are going to have an amazing time,” I thought as we drove into a gorgeous winter wonderland.
All of us had an incredible time…we skied, rode on inner-tubes, and Kennedy even zip lined! We ate dinner, laughed at comical actions by family and friends, had a few healthy and spirited debates, and everything seemed very normal. Before I knew it the long weekend was coming to an end and I never really discussed anything new with my daughters.
The car ride home
We all got into the car, began our venture back into NYC, and then the magic happened. The 2.5 hour car ride became the platform for discussions on life, love, work and the future. I learned a valuable lesson in the car that day. I need to do more listening and less talking. Alleea talked about her future as it relates to her hopes and dreams, and her goals for work and happiness. I didn’t agree with 100% of what she was saying. Some of her thoughts I found to be well thought out, while others I completely disagreed with at a fundamental level. As we spoke I began to think to myself, how do I respond to her thoughts?
I decided to listen, plant a seed (give a small dose my own opinion) and listen more. Her thoughts were valid, after all they were her thoughts and this was life as seen through her lens. I learned that by listening more and talking less I understood her better and that was my only goal. As a mother, it is very difficult hearing something you do not agree with and not reacting to it in a direct way; but sometimes not being direct is the best way to communicate. Taking time to truly listen to her words, the way that she organized her thoughts and her personal desires, helped me learn more about her.
“The First Duty of Love, is to Listen” –Paul Tillich