I’m busy writing. With a 6 book a year publishing schedule, I have LOTS of writing to do!!!
I had an interesting experience recently, when I went through New York to see my daughters there, we went shopping together, which is always fun for me. And also challenging!! With all 3 working in fashion, they have a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t and strong opinions about what I should wear—–and never wear!!! My perception of fashion is a little different than theirs, I’m older and can’t get away with every trend that comes along, but I also like a touch of humor sometimes, and don’t always want to wear serious Mom-clothes. Fashion needs to be fun too. Sometimes I regret those flights of fancy, and sometimes I really enjoy them. And sometimes I make some lulus of mistakes!!! And my daughters keep me in line. They’re a tough fashion committee to get by sometimes!!! As all daughters are, even if they don’t work in fashion. (You’re going out in THAT??? How many times have we all heard that from teen age daughters? And then they steal it from our closet and wear it themselves!!)
And I guess I wasn’t in a very serious mood the day we went shopping. At the first store we went to, I picked a big red and black checked purse that went with a few things I own. As the girls pointed out, I didn’t “need” it, but thought it would be fun. I got a resounding NO!! on that one, by all 3. I tried on a pair of navy blue patent leather lace up boots that I also thought would be fun. No again, and their verdict was that I looked like an 18th century school teacher. So with some regret, I said no to those. At the second store, they picked out a pair of beautiful sparkly black very high heeled evening shoes which they said I’d wear a lot, and I realized they were right, so I bought them and will probably wear them for years. They are very elegant and grown up, and I’ll probably wear them on Christmas Eve when we dress up for dinner. I also picked out a pair of platform flat shoes and got an instant No on those, and….tried on a pair of high heeled boots with flowers painted all over them that I thought were really fun. The committee voted those down too, but I tried them again and loved them, and bought them anyway. They may be right, and I may never wear them, but they looked happy and fun, so I gave myself a treat. And a moment of defiance of their sometimes stern fashion rules!! The boots are probably silly, but why not?
We had a wonderful day together, and didn’t buy anything else. We had lunch and dinner, I got a little alone time with each of them, and visited a new apartment of one of them, and she’d done a great job with it. They’re very grown up, but we still love to spend time together. And the conversation turned serious at some point, as we discussed the people in their lives, their work and mine, and the things of most concern to them. They are responsible and have good judgement, but like all of us, people creep into their lives sometimes who shouldn’t be there, and either has or could really hurt them. And as a parent one hates to see that. I don’t want them to get hurt!! And I am no infallible authority, but I have more life experience than they do, and have made my share of mistakes, some of which hurt me deeply, and took years to rectify and overcome. None of us want to see our kids get hurt, or make the same mistakes we did. So just as they said NO to the shiny blue school teacher boots or the red and black bag they said looked cheap and I’d never wear and I realized they were right—–I warned them of people I thought could be unhappy experiences for them in the long run. And I know you can’t compare fashion to people and relationships, but I was relying on their experience and good judgement in fashion—–and hoping they would trust mine about some of the potential dangers in life. But advice about men, people, and relationships is much harder to take, even from someone with more experience. And whereas it was easy to walk away from a purse and a pair of boots, it’s not so easy to walk away from people we are growing attached to and maybe shouldn’t have in our lives, or even those who’ve been there for a long time, and shouldn’t be. No one takes that kind of advice easily, and they argued vehemently in favor of the people we discussed, not as willing to take my advice as I had been to take theirs, and that struck me when I thought about it later. We all have to make our own decisions and mistakes, even when they hurt us, and even our (adult) children have a right to choose their own path, no matter what we think. And as a parent we need to be gracious and supportive, and sometimes back off and let them learn a hard lesson themselves (I’m not very good at that, and a devoted mother hen, trying to protect my chicks.)
I was reminded again of how hard it is to be the mother of adults, to watch them take potentially dangerous turns in the road at times, or trust people who don’t deserve it and may hurt them later, or even some who are obviously not good for them. We made our mistakes, and I guess we have to let our kids make theirs. But damn it’s hard, and can be painful to watch a movie we’ve seen before in our own lives and know how it will probably turn out for them too, not well. One has to strive every day, to learn how much to say and not to say and when to say it. (I usually opt for saying too much, and too often, out of worry for them. and wind up annoying them). And in the end, their life story is theirs to write, whether similar to ours or not, and we have to try and trust their judgement to be better than we fear, and the fates to be kind to them. We all hope for a happy ending for our kids in the end. That’s all we want.
But I was struck by how easily they say NO to me about something to wear, and I follow their advice. And how much harder it is for them to hear me say NO about a person or a situation, and trust that I know what I’m talking about and could be right. I’ve learned from my mistakes, but paid a high price for it in my life, and would love to spare them the same experience. But perhaps we can’t, and they have their own decisions and mistakes to make. And maybe they’ll be wiser than we were at the same age. Mine have made no glaring mistakes so far, but with youth comes a certain innocence that things will turn out right no matter what, and no matter what the odds. But I’m very grateful that my children are much wiser than I was at their age.
And I guess at any age, we have a streak of defiance and mischief in us…..after all, I did buy the flowered boots they hated. I’ll let you know if I wear them, or if the girls were right…..They’re trying to keep me from looking foolish with fashion mistakes….and I am trying to keep them safe and happy and away from people who might not be good for them…..we all mean well and are trying to help each other. It is truly an art learning to be a parent to kids at every age, and I’m still learning now that my kids are adults!!! The stakes are higher as they get older, and the consequences….and they will always be our children, no matter how grown up they are. And wouldn’t it be nice if when we say NO as parents, they listened….but that wouldn’t be real life would it!!?? May the fates be kind to our children, and keep them safe, yours as well as mine….