Does Mom Really Know Best?

Carol Bradley Bursack, AgingCare.com

Witnessing our parents’ aging process can be painful. Some people find the pain so unbearable that they find reasons to be angry with their parents. Some use other distancing behaviors so they feel justified in withdrawing. Most of us don’t go to this extreme, but many of us find that occasionally we’ll look at one or both of our parents and feel a shockwave go through us.

“They are getting old!”

I am a daughter who has experienced the shock of watching your parent’s age before your eyes. Even though, for the greater part of my life, I lived in the same community as my parents and saw them often—or maybe because of that fact—their aging came at me, during certain moments in time, like punches to the gut. You may be experiencing a similar reaction.

These people once took care of our needs. Now they need—or may soon need—our help. While it’s not logical thinking, we can feel a little betrayed. The child inside of us rebels. We don’t want our parents to grow old and frail, for our sake, not just theirs. We can begin to feel kind of “orphaned.”

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Reflections on our Childhood

Nearly every childhood leaves us with mixed memories. Even siblings raised together by the same parents can have wildly differing views on how their shared childhood played out. For most of us, there are times when we think, “Hmm, Mom was right about that.” Other times, we know for certain she was wrong. The same goes for Dad, of course, but we’re addressing Mom in this particular article.

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Did Your Mother Really Know Best originally appeared on AgingCare.com

So, What Did My Mom Tell Me That I Now Think Was Right?

Take care of people you love: My mom was a family caregiver. My dad’s mother lived with us for a number of years, and mom was the primary caregiver for her own parents since she was the geographically closest of her siblings. I was blessed to see that family caregiving is just something you do. Not that nursing homes and other care options didn’t enter the picture when there was no other choice, but the first was to care for the elders the best she could until they needed more care than she could provide.

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Vote: Mom was an early member of the League of Women Voters. The League wasn’t very political in those days. It was mostly about getting out the vote. I haven’t kept up with it in later years, but I do think that is still the main focus of the group. What I remember well was big “VOTE” signs in our front yard, and in the yards of anyone else that would allow her to put them up. These signs literally just said “VOTE.” She passed down her feelings about our right and responsibility to vote to her children.

Giving for the joy of giving without expectation of return or thanks: Mom volunteered for Meals on Wheels. She worked on petitions to bring public television to our community. She volunteered at church. She taught by example that you don’t give to get approval. Giving of oneself is its own reward.

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Did Your Mother Really Know Best originally appeared on AgingCare.com

What Did My Mom Tell Me That I Now Think Is Wrong?

Clean your plate club: I was an underweight child, so I was pushed to eat. My parents meant well. They also grew up during the ‘30s, when food was scarce, so there was a bit of the “don’t waste” mentality at work. But I had a small appetite, and I couldn’t always “clean my plate.” Now, medical professionals say, “Don’t clean your plate. Stop when you are full.” Mom would get that now, but I grew up with a “clean your plate” edict and it caused some conflict.

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The house must be immaculate before you can have company: I remember a time when my aunt (my mother’s sister) and uncle were coming to visit our Midwestern community. It wasn’t as though they were strangers to the area, but they did live a much more glamorous life than we did. Before they came to visit, one would think we were preparing for royalty. However, it was always that way. Mom hated anyone coming into the house unless it was spotless and in total order. She took it personally. I’ve had to unlearn that rule (I’ve done that very well, thank you). It’s about priorities and my priorities have had to change.

Having a quiet child means something is wrong: I know Mom worried about me. I was a reader and a writer, but didn’t communicate feelings well in other ways. Also, she was very social and pushed me to be more social. She meant well, and some would say she was right to try. But my basic personality was like my dad’s, quiet and bookish. Social functions were not my cup of tea. Right or wrong, Mom’s pushing me to socialize didn’t take.

Our parents were products of the people who raised them, as their parents were products of the people who raise them. Most of us had parents who did their best to give us a good childhood. I know mine did. I’m sure my kids could make a nice, long list of things I did wrong, even though I’ve always had their best interest at heart. That is the nature of parenthood.

Mom, you were wonderful—even if you did push me into going to my prom with a guy I barely knew because you were so sure I shouldn’t miss such an important event. But all is forgiven.

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Did Your Mother Really Know Best originally appeared on AgingCare.com

36 comments

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago

thanks!

Faith Purdy
Faith Purdy5 years ago

fantastic article :)

Ernest D.
Ernest D.5 years ago

There is no shame in growing old, growing old with major health problems that are preventable, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, all of which in people in their 40s & 50s left unchecked will end folks in rest homes in their 60s & 70s. These conditions are preventable through a healthy diet, exercise, etc. While its few some people are predisposed to these conditions, the vast majority of people have these conditions due to lifestyle. I have lost too many family members due to diabetes, strokes, etc. Irregardless, when our parents do age & become frail, either due to health problems associated to lifestyle, or due to natural causes, it can leave us feeling vulnerable. We are used to thinking of our parents as strong, capable, & self reliant. When we find ourselves having to parent our parents, especially when its over a long period of time, & it delays or sidelines plans we had for our own lives, it can create some resentment, especially if we become the caretaker. There are however resources, such as adult daycare programs, a variety of classes at senior centers, etc. I also agree with another poster who said, death is a natural part of aging, coming to terms with the fact our parents will pass away & being prepared before hand, will save one a lot of anguish & stress, & can protect one's parents. An advanced directive, power of attorney, will/trust/living trust, & having your plots or even funeral prepaid c

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson5 years ago

Thanks!

Maya Gandhi
Maya g5 years ago

The title of the article does not match with the first 2 paragraphs of the article. Witnessing your parents growing old and the entire gamut of emotions and behaviours related to it is a different concept theme not well incorporated in this article or related to the title. Here you are talking about all what your mother did that sounded so wrong and your behaviour was so right eg. eating all and leaving plate half filled..
Then you were a growing child and required to eat the full portion, besides a discipline was being instilled where one should not waste food that so many in the world sleep without and after a certain age eating a little less than you think you require is again a discipline one could have to maintain oneself well.
Cleaning the house was another discipline that any mother/parent would want their children to have because it means you are managing time, money, resources well besides living in a clean hygienic environment... etc., etc….
In every generation children find their parents not okay and only when they grow up and mature that they would realize that parents are well meaning people, only at times their way of showing it might go amiss.
Sorry but A little muddled thinkink in the article...
Maya

Maya Gandhi
Maya g5 years ago

The title of the article does not match with the first 2 paragraphs of the article. Witnessing your parents growing old and the entire gamut of emotions and behaviours related to it is a different concept theme not well incorporated in this article or related to the title. Here you are talking about all what your mother did that sounded so wrong and your behaviour was so right eg. eating all and leaving plate half filled..
Then you were a growing child and required to eat the full portion, besides a discipline was being instilled where one should not waste food that so many in the world sleep without and after a certain age eating a little less than you think you require is again a discipline one could have to maintain oneself well.
Cleaning the house was another discipline that any mother/parent would want their children to have because it means you are managing time, money, resources well besides living in a clean hygienic environment... etc., etc….
In every generation children find their parents not okay and only when they grow up and mature that they would realize that parents are well meaning people, only at times their way of showing it might go amiss.
Sorry but A little muddled thinkink in the article...
Maya

Betty C.
Betty C.5 years ago

Debra M said it best. Thanks Debra & Care2. I still think I had the best Mom.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.5 years ago

My mother, too, had to have the place perfect for visitors.( In some ways I was a disappointing daughter.)

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Yvette S.
Past Member 5 years ago

Trust me, your child's 'shock' of seeing you age is nothing compared to when you look in the mirror and see your new look as you age....wrinkles, sun spots, grey hair, sagging skin, and my personal favorite....chin hairs.
Ha, You say! Well, Ha! I said, and here I am.
Feeling emotionally more composed, and unchanged about many things I like about myself. Feeling clearer about my children, and my expectations of them. Grateful for such a full life, and occasionally irritated when I find I am treated like I have lost my mind, when in fact I am thinking how much fun I am having.
And frankly how boring this attitude anyone must be forgiving of my life. Wrinkles do not the person make. And really, who wants to be cured of aging. The alternative is so very permanent...until the next lifetime!