“Children should be seen
and not heard.”
That’s the motto my parents claimed as their own throughout my childhood. It didn’t matter what you had to say, you respected adult conversation, didn’t interrupt anyone who was speaking, and you didn’t correct an adult. YOU were the child — a fact that automatically meant your opinion was not valid because you lacked education and life experience.
As a knock-kneed, nosy little girl this irritated me; I had stuff to say and wanted to be included! Nothing made my blood boil more than hearing one of my parents state, “If I want your opinion, I’ll ask you for it,” in an attempt to silence me. “How RUDE,” I thought each and every time.
I knew — KNEW — that I would be different as an adult. Never would I tell my children to be quiet. Never would I insinuate that their opinion was silly. And, never, EVER would I chastise them for interrupting a conversation.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Motherhood. It’s not a season of raising your own children — it’s the time of your life when you realize you ARE your mother: her mannerisms, her sayings, her emotions.
I can’t count the number of times I have heard my mother’s voice escaping my lips.
“I need YOU to be QUIET — I’m trying to think!”
“YOU do NOT interrupt adults. Say, ‘excuse me, please.'”
“This is NOT the time; YOU need to be quiet.”
“YOU do NOT tell Mommy what to do.”
If there happens to be a mirror in proximity as I say these things, I’m startled by my reflection.Â My stance, shoulders, eyebrows, raised finger . . . even my head, jutting out just a bit, are all reminiscent of what I saw as a child from my mom.
Whoa.Â What happened?Â Where is the child who vowed to let free-speech reign in her adult home?
She grew up and realized her mother wasn’t a meanie.Â Her mom was just trying to survive motherhood.Â Trying to deal with noisy, loud, always-talking, always-yelling, always-screaming children all day long.Â Trying to teach her daughters the meaning of “respect,” and trying to gain a few moments of peace and quiet.
Poor Mom.Â I’m right there with ya, girl; I finally understand.
(Um, can I say that, Mom?Â May I call you “girl?”Â Is that ok?)