By Laura Lifshitz
Motherhood is often a thankless job, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It just means that often the joy is in the love you give, not the accolades that you don’t get. As much as I want my daughter to appreciate me and thank me for things, I know that she’s seven years-old and won’t reach full “gratitude” age until she’s older, and that there will be things she’ll never thank me for. Just like I never thanked my mom for some of the things that she did for me, which makes me think that while I’m writing this, maybe I should…
1. Allowing me to push her away
And then when I requested it, allowing me back in.
Those damn tween and teen years. I really—especially in the tween years—could push her away with a vengeance and act “too cool” to be with her, only to the next day be filled with deep regret over how I had behaved, and come to her apologizing. How many times I did this, gulp, I don’t want to count, but it was often. And even though I could be a little b*tch (hey, the truth hurts) at times to her, she still allowed me back in. We had a very tight relationship during those years in many ways.
2. Sitting back and letting me mess up…
While advising me the right way, but letting me learn hard lessons.
Sometimes, I shouldn’t have had to learn the lessons I did and she could have pulled me back.
But other times, she allowed me to learn and have a voice. Many parents don’t give kids the chance to do that so when they end up out in the real world, they end up unable to decide anything. I was pretty decisive and even though it sometimes irked her, I was allowed to make decisions.
3. Never making me feel as a female that there were limits on me
Or other women, in general
I never grew up thinking that men or boys were better or more capable than I was, and that’s not something a lot of the women of my generation can say. I was made to feel the opposite—that I could do more or better than a boy could, at whatever I wanted to do. Sadly, my mom is a hell of a lot better than myself at handiwork, and she did most of the manual labor, not my dad. She was a stay-at-home mom at one point and for a good chunk of my life, working. She was somewhat politically involved and could be found walking in a protest from time to time. If boys bothered me, she would tell them that her older daughters would beat them up. And then share that they got beat up by a girl.
Okay, it was a different time…
But still. She empowered us to believe we were capable. There was never any wedding pressure and in fact, I think most of my family didn’t think I would get married ever, much less divorced.
4. Supporting my passions
Whether it was stand-up, writing, drama, singing or colorguard, my mom went along for the ride many, many, many times.
I am sure there are times she hates or hated things I wrote. I am sure there were times she’d prefer to not attend a competition or listen to me sing all day and night, but if that were the case, I never knew. If I was intensely practicing, she was cool with that. If I would get mad at her for daring to make me late to a rehearsal, she got it.
I was lucky to have someone who supported me in my passions, even ones as risky as stand-up.
5. Treating my friends like they were her own kids
There were so many times my mom treated my friends like her own kids. If they were troubled, sad, confused or just dealing with general life malaise, she listened to them. It wasn’t unusual for friends of mine to sit, talk and debate with her (respectfully, although she has strong opinions like myself) for hours. This was a common event. Most parents don’t really have the empathy or compassion to sit and listen to one teenager, much less many. By doing so, this made my social life a lot easier and made me feel like I could talk to my mom as well.
6. Believing kids should be heard
(and not “seen but not heard”)
My mom grew up in a time where adults really believed kids should be seen and not heard. And while in today’s world, some kids are far too mouthy and disrespectful to their parents, I think my mom was right in allowing me to have a voice. Even if ultimately we didn’t get what we wanted, we got to say how we felt, why we wanted what we wanted and air out our grievances. Mom was the court judge and ruler, but we at least had a trial. It had bothered her so much that she didn’t get to have that voice that she allowed her kids to have the chance she didn’t. It made me confident in vocalizing my opinions and taught me to debate and also listen to opinions I didn’t agree with, even if it still makes me bristle.
I’m sure there were many other things that she did that I forgot to thank her for, like allowing me to have horrible haircuts and outfits without forcing me to stay inside out of the public eye. Allowing me to live after being fresh. Not shipping me off to a farm.
Maybe I better go call her and thank her for all of that before she gets any funny ideas.
About the Author
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated writer, comedienne, single mother and chocolate fanatic. A former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate, you can find her work in many places, like the New York Times, DivorceForce, Mom.Me, Women’s Health, Worthy, Working Mother and numerous other sites. Follow her on Facebook and her own website, frommtvtomommy.com.