My mom is the best. She is so great that I consider her one of my best friends. She did a a killer job of being a mom until I was about 20, then being a cool and horrifying mix of mom and friend until about 28…which is around the time she slid right into the friend and grandma role. I can only hope I pull this off so gracefully.
One of the reason I like her so much is this amazing thing she does where she follows my blog and goes to my speaking engagements and then says things like “I would have never thought of that, thank you.” And in reality she is the one who taught me most of the stuff that comes out of my mouth (aside from the whole speech pathology/child development stuff).
But there was this thing. She did it, I hated it, she knew she did it, she knew I hated it, and yet she couldn’t stop. Because what I am about to say is going to be a real hard habit to break – for anyone, much less a lady with endless optimism. The thing she did was say “Oh, he wil be fine.” And it killed me.
I was at a basketball game and a mom came up to me asking about her two year old who doesn’t speak. I encouraged her to have the little lady evaluated as my mom smiled and said “Oh isn’t she sweet! She will be fine.” We were at the mall when a mom asked me about her three year old that only eats fried food. “Oh he will be fine. What a honey!”
So for the first time in my life I had to sit her down and be the one to tell her to shut it down. This was an odd role reversal. And like my mom, she didn’t sweep it under the rug or roll her eyes at me – she said “Why?”
Because, when moms confide in other moms about their child, they already know something is wrong. They already know there is a problem. Moms don’t ask other moms for help unless they really really think they need it. They don’t ask professionals for help unless they really really know they need it. And when someone dismisses this big lump in the throat of a mom, they don’t feel comforted – they feel dismissed.
And we all do it. We all say “They will be fine.” My butt of a four year old screams for up to two hours every night at bed time. When I bring this up, I get told by even some of my favorite people that “He will be fine.” I don’t dislike them for it. I just don’t feel like my fear and frustration is validated.
It’s the friends that ask what we have tried, or offer things they have heard work, or things that have worked for their child that make me feel validated. It is the people who ask how I am doing while I struggle through every night that not only validate my feelings – but also make me feel loved.
My mom has let go of “He will be fine.” The other day when I called her in tears after a 3 hour night time battle, she said “I am sorry. I wish I could do something to help.” And let me tell you, if she isn’t saying “He will be fine” about her grandkids, she isn’t saying it about anyone. Because in the world of Marsha, her grandkids are little slices of perfection.