Turning Into Your Mother Isn't So Bad After All
ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
Now, a different reflection on Mother's Day from commentator Lori Gottlieb.
Ms. LORI GOTTLIEB (Co-Author, "I Love You, Nice to Meet You"): The other day a friend and I went to the park with our two-year-olds. I was trying to have an adult conversation but I couldn't finish a sentence without my friend exclaiming, yay, every time her kid shoveled sand into the bucket or shared a cracker or slid down the slide. Yay, yay, yay. Then her son started playing with some trash, and instead of taking it away, my friend launched into a cheery explanation of why germs aren't safe.
Her kid started licking the trash. Sweetie, my friend said in a peppy but heroically patient tone, do you need mommy to explain again why germs aren't safe? Then looking over at me, she said, isn't it scary how we become our mothers?
Now, I don't know about her mom but the mothers I knew growing up were nothing like the moms my peers turned out to be. If I played with trash as a child, my mom would have snatched it away, and if I cried, she would have said get over it. And you know what? It would've worked, because for all our fear of becoming out mothers, our moms actually knew best.
Okay. I'll admit, I started just like my friends, reading the touchy-feely parenting books, reflecting my child's emotions, yelling good try whenever my child made the slightest move. I wasn't just any mother, I was Mother Theresa, empathic, self-sacrificing, tirelessly tranquil. And let me tell you, it was a nightmare.
One day when I told my son to leave his fire engine at home, he whines, but I want it, and within seconds he became as boneless as a jellyfish and did the full drop to the floor. So, like a sensitive progressive mom, I kneeled down to his level, I made eye contact, I took a deep breath. Then I said, I'm sorry, sweetie, it must be so frustrating to want that truck and not get it. You're very frustrated. This was called labeling his feelings.
In response, my son bit me. But when the same thing happened at my mom's house, he wanted his basketball during dinner, my mom mimicked him - I want it, I want it, I want it, she said. I was appalled. Mocking a child for having feelings? Isn't that emotionally abusive? But my son found this hilarious. He immediately forgot about the basketball and we all enjoyed a peaceful meal.
See, our moms didn't worry about the thing we modern moms do. While today's moms drill their kids with Baby Einstein flashcards, when I was growing up, the typical answer to why was because I said so. So, I decided that instead of worrying about becoming my mother, I'm aspiring to it. Forget the enlightened supermom, this Mother's Day, I think we should all take my mom's advice: get over it. Why? Because not only will your kids be happier, but because I said so.
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SEABROOK: Lori Gottlieb is the co-author of the book, "I Love You, Nice to Meet You." She puts her son in timeouts in Los Angeles.
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