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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Motherly Indiscretions

By Silvia Uribe

When my husband and I decided to form a family, we planned for it. But we planned in a non-traditional way. We didn't plan to wait, enjoy life, and adjust to each other. We certainly didn't plan our finances. At the time, we didn't have a lot of money, but we still wanted to raise a baby or two. And we did.

What we did carefully plan was what kind of upbringing we wanted our children to have. We had numerous conversations regarding important things such as discipline, values, and how to make their lives easier on us when they became adults.

To accomplish this task, we knew we had to teach them how to make good decisions. There was a calculated risk that we also prepared for: at some point they would probably make decisions that we wouldn't like. We took the risk.

Since then, as parents, we have been involved in every step of their lives. We have let them decide some things, be successful, and we have let them make mistakes. But, we always had their back. As time passed, they were able to put their decision-making skills in practice more and more. However, we knew, and they did too, that in case of an irreconcilable disagreement, it was us parents, and not them, who had the last word. There was no doubt about that! This understanding lasted until they became adults, and even longer, until they became financially independent.

When our oldest daughter left home to explore the world and her soul in a far, far away land, some years ago, we had to learn to detach. Take into consideration that we are a traditional Latino family that spends all the time we can together. We are best friends, and laugh together while arguing for endless hours about the silliest of things at the dinner table. And yes, we also fight about the most stupid things. As you can imagine, detaching, to us, was very uncomfortable and painful. But, with time, we got used to it.

Having gone through those stages, I can tell you that the biggest challenging, for us, was getting used to not having the last word. Don't take me wrong. It feels very good to see that our children can make good decisions and that they can fly with their own wings. It is good that they are successful, smart, and secure of themselves. And it is good that the huge responsibility of their well being is not on our shoulders anymore. We feel that our mission was accomplished!

Like most parents, we welcomed this liberating side of the detachment process. But what about the little details, the everyday things life is full of? What happens with giving our advice, whether our children want to hear it or not? At the same time we feel that if we don't advise them, we're failing them. But how true is that? Do they really need our opinion on how their apartment should be decorated, what they should wear, the design of their stationary, or who they're dating, even when they don't ask?

The fact is, these unimportant, unsolicited opinions could potentially damage our relationship with our children forever. I've seen that happening to other family members and friends. To avoid this, we only have to change positions. When did we ever appreciate someone telling us what to do or have in our own home, who to hang out with, what to eat or what to wear? Never! Thus, the logical thing is not to do it!

However, this is easier said than done. This, precisely, is the new stage that I am in. Although I consider myself quite adaptable, this discrete behavior is not coming naturally to me. It is taking a while for the whole concept to sink in. I think I'm catching myself every time I want to be motherly, indiscreet, nosey, imprudent, or plainly annoying. But it is taking a great effort on my part, given my spontaneous Latino temperament, fatally combined with my lack of patience.

But we learn as we go. I thought I had learned how to be a mom a while ago. The fact is, my children keep teaching me important lessons everyday, despite our ages. This makes me wonder. Who benefits more from a parent-child relationship? And, which one of the two is bound to grow more?

Have a fabulous Mother's Day!

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

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