Every once in a while, the interwebs will delight you with a sublime piece of writing that you think was written exclusively for you. I felt that Don’t Make Your Children the Exception to Every Rule in the New York Times was one such article. It read as if the mother had specifically commissioned the writer to do this.
The mother has exacting standards. Discipline is her favourite word. Punctuality is her preferred mantra. And a commitment means the world to her. She thrives on rules. The written, the unwritten, the said, the unsaid.
I complain that she is very very strict with me. She probably takes that as a compliment. “You’ll thank me for it, someday!” And then she’ll add in a softer tone, “Look, I don’t know why we are pitted against each other as mother and daughter. I dislike it as much as you do. But I feel compelled. And don’t expect me to be apologetic for that.”
I keep hoping that she will soften the blows at some point. But her expectations rise with each passing day, month and year. I’m older now so I must be more responsible, conscientious and mature in how I conduct myself. Some days, I pass. Most days, I flail. Leading to yet another boiling point.
Sometimes, I yell in absolute frustration, “Why do these rules apply only to me? Why isn’t everybody else ever held accountable or subject to them?” She calmly responds, “Because everybody else is not my child. And unfortunately, it only falls upon me to break this to you. No one else is going to come and correct you when you falter. So deal with it.”
Elementary issues, but tough to digest. Which is why I enjoyed the NYT piece so much. It’s everything the mother has been trying to drill into me for the last 20-odd years. Perhaps, I was too self-absorbed to notice all the good she set out to do. Perhaps, playing the victim is a simpler act to live up to. Perhaps, I’m a wee bit scared to accept that someone can love me so much that she will fight with herself each time she has to reprimand me. Motherhood sure redefines the traits of possessiveness in a relationship.