When did we moms become so annoying?

April 23, 2006|By SUSAN REIMER

A friend and I sat with coffee in the warm spring sun, but our moods did not match the bright skies.

We agreed that we were tired of being unloved by the young adult children we had spent so many years loving.

"I am annoying," I said, listing the complaints of my children against me. "I am tedious, I am too loud and I talk too much. I am superfluous. I am ridiculous. I am a reason to walk out of the room."

My friend has had the same experience. Her son does not even open her e-mails, let alone answer them. And her daughter once forbade her to visit her college town.

My son stops me from speaking in his presence by holding up his hand to block the words. He refers to me as his birth mother. My daughter has declared me to be the "most UN-discreet person in the world."

Almost every parent we know has a child who will pick up his plate and leave the table rather than share a conversation at dinner.

We never knew we were so stupid. We are shocked to learn how irritating we are. We can't imagine we have so little to offer.

"Don't they understand that we made their happy little lives happen?" I asked.

It would help if a father occasionally stepped up and said, "That's no way to treat your mother." But instead, the fathers tend to nod contemplatively and say things like, "Well, I can see the child's point."

My friend offered a common assurance. That this breaking away is normal, though not without an emotional toll. That part of becoming an adult is becoming independent of the other adults in the house. That, with time, our children will realize how much we have done for them and return to us with love and gratitude.

That, some day, our children will be self-assured enough to love us. That loving us will no longer cost them their self-respect.

"I may not live that long," I huffed. And I meant it. I had my children later in life and, even if they decide I am worth the time of day in the next couple of years, there is no guarantee I will be around, actuarially speaking.

"Besides," I said, "I would like to be loved while I am still young enough to appreciate it. Not when I am lashed to a wheelchair in the hall of some nursing home, completely demented.

"I'd like to be able to say, `I told you so,' without my dentures falling into my lap."

Our moods darkening, my friend and I talked about how our children might handle our end-of-life wishes and we agreed we did not know what was worse: having a child yank the plug because he has someplace to be, or having a child cling to our unresponsive selves out of guilt for all the times she never said she loved us.

"It isn't going to go well," my friend said, and I agreed.

Parents should be able to celebrate the emerging adulthood of their children. After all, wasn't this the goal all those years ago when we nursed them through fevers and read to them and checked their homework and planned their birthday parties and cheered for them from the sidelines? This is the promised land, and we have made it here together.

Instead, we find ourselves tossed aside like the towels that litter their bedroom floors - used and discarded without a thought, except the certainty that somebody (a mother, no doubt) will make sure there is always a fresh one available.

Mothers may be annoying, but they are also constant. There is a reason why we live longer than men.

We are determined to hang around long enough for our children to finally throw their arms around us and weep repentant tears for all the times they thought we were annoying.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

To hear an audio clip of this column and others, go to baltimoresun.com/reimer.

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