Sunday 25 April 2010

Message from your Mother

It's risky business being a parent.

Just ask the New Zealand father who got up in the early hours of the morning last week to take his crying baby for a drive in the car.

Except...... he managed to stuff it up bigtime. He decided that since the baby had finally fallen asleep, it was 3am and he was already out, he would have a bit of well deserved fun.

He ducked into Mermaids the local Wellington strip club leaving the baby all alone in the car.

The man was clearly exhausted and no doubt had a flabby, hormonal wife at home but.......being a parent comes with some serious, long term responsibilities. Right?

I for one, never, ever, left you alone in the car .......well on purpose anyway. There was that one time I locked you and the keys in the car by mistake......but
I guess though I've done plenty of other stuff you could reel off without even drawing breath ....if I ever gave you half the chance that is.

A crying baby is one thing but I've got to tell you, balancing the parent/child relationship in the teenage and early adult years is much harder work. Maybe it remains that way forever.

I find that keeping my mouth firmly shut when I am dying to say what I really think can often seem like walking a tightrope over shark infested waters (and I am sure its the same for you with me too given once you become a parent you also develop selective amnesia about your own childhood and teenage years and the angst you caused your own parents. Who me? I was a perfect angel. I would never have done anything like that).

Take this week though. I stuffed it up. You mentioned in the one conversation and almost the one sentence that you went out with a Frenchman, an Englishman and an Aussie.

I think I was only half listening and thought it was one of those jokes, there was an Aussie, a Frenchman and an Englishman standing at a bar and one said to the other.....

OK, so I might have been laughing out loud already trying to guess the punchline when really what you were saying to me was you have recently 'gone out' with these people (just to clarify for my readers, no she did not date them all at the one time, one at a time).
I admit it. Finally. It seems I don't do 'appropriate' that well when it comes to you.

I might not have left you alone in the car as a baby but I concede I do say inappropriate things that I would never dream of saying to anyone else of your age.

I have to thank you for being understanding about that.

Because as many stories as I have about you, I realise you have twice as many about me.

But to be fair to me (seeing it is my blog), there are many occasions when you ask and even beg me for my opinion in what turns out to be a somewhat tricky no-win situation.

For me, that is.

And it's at these times that I find it hard to form the right words. In fact, as it happens, any words.

Example A. Do you remember this picture?

"What do you think of him, isn't he gorgeous?" you asked expectantly, waiting for my approval.

" Well come on, what do you think? you asked again.

I just knew, as soon as I clapped eyes on that picture that whatever was going to come out of my mouth was going to be all shades of wrong. Unfortunately, it didn't stop me. As it never does.

I could have said, Whatever makes you happy or Yes, of course or Are you at a fancy dress party? or He's got lovely blue eyes or Is he an actor? or even at a stretch, Lovely bra he's wearing.

I could have said any of those things. Instead, I chose to say, "What the hell is wrong with you? Is he a badly dressed transvestite or something? What have you got against dating normal people?"

I am trying (very, I can hear you saying).

But you know the truth is, it's hard being a parent.

Of a baby. Of a child. Of a teenager.

And now I'm learning that it's difficult being a parent of a grown up.

In fact, parenting adult children is a lot like feeding alligators.

If you stay too far away, the alligators will starve. If you get too close, you might lose your head.

See? A fine line that I need to work on.

They say practice makes perfect. I guess I will just have to keep at it..

Love you.

Your Mother xx


  1. thanks for the warning (advice) Lilly, it doesn't get easier does it? lol (I think)

  2. I'm voting teenagers are the hardest. But your post made me smile big time. Love love love the alligator analogy.

  3. I feel your pain, Lilly. I actually wrote a post a while back on called parenting adult children (

    Here's a quick quote: "How do you get a grown-up to listen to your sage and well-considered, well-meaning advice?

    When will your grown-up children stop having their knee-jerk reactions to advice given by you?

    I must admit to having thought, on more than one occasion - grow up and stop blocking my words because they come from me.

    When I’m being my best mother of grown-ups, I ask if my children want to hear my suggestions, thoughts, and/or advice gleaned from my own experiences or those of close friends and family. Then I keep it to myself when they say “ NO!” or “not really.” Usually, they’ll bring the conversation back up and listen to my advice in their own good time."

    I sometimes have to do Lamaze breathing when I talk to my daughter. I wonder if you talked to my mother, what she'd say about me? Hmmmm...

    Patience, my dear.

  4. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world Lilly. We have no training or qualifications to do the job. We are just thrown in at the deep end and have to get on with it. And it is a lifetime commitment, where the child (no matter what age) will always remember what we did wrong rather than what we got right.
    The rewards often seem so small in relation to the expenditure...but worth it...or we wouldn't keep doing it!

  5. Oh, sure...I come here for a bit of a laugh, a funny story perhaps, but NO. You go and tell me that parenting an adult is going to be even harder than the whole parenting a teenager thing that I am up to my flipping eyeballs in right now?

    I am going to drink now.

    Thanks for that.

  6. He he drinking is good. Well its harder than the teenage years because we still say what we think. when they are over 18 they are adults and parents have to learn to not be so free with the advice...thats the tough bit.

  7. Excellent post. So very true.

    Of course, at least prior to the modern fad for DNA testing all and sundry, it was a lot easier for men to be fathers since they could simply gain comfort by denying (especially to themselves) any possibility of a genetic link.

  8. Your Aussie humour is shining again Lilly...I love how you take the mickey out of yourself!

    I have 2 nieces in their early 20's whom I am very close to and like a mother figure. They often ask my advise some of which they take on board and other they politely ignore.

    They know I will never judge them and just laugh when I put my foot in my mouth. We are very lucky to love each other unconditionally and now they are adults I find I am learning quite a lot from these wise young souls.

    These posts are ALWAYS a delight to read mainly because they are so honest, humorous and heartfelt.
    In other words you rock sweet lady!
    Peggy xxxx

  9. No truer words were spoken, Lilly -it's bloody hard being a parent! But I suspect you've done a fantastic job...

  10. Lilly,
    You are too good .your this post is very witty and delightful(as usual) .
    My teen age son is 15 years and I was thinking that soon (just 4-5 more years) and I will have a bed of roses to lie on but , this post is a rude shock to me. there is still so much to be(ar) done!

  11. Aww, that is such a cute post. You guys have a great relationship thats for sure. My mother is the same. Once a parent always a parent and you want to protect those you love.

  12. I think it must be equally hard being a son or daughter. Ask mine When i asked my adopted daughter if she wanted to find her natural mother she said " 'What for? I've enough to put up with one of you I dont want another "

  13. this post is pushing me into a small rant of my views but I'll try to keep a loose lid on it.
    That NZ father - idiot with a problem maybe they need to take the child away.
    Teenagers - they are aliens, hard to communicate with, hard to live with and they want to live in their own world while using yours.
    parenting adult children - I don't see it that way at all. Yes you are always a parent but you have relationships with adults, you don't parent them. Caring about your adult child is different than parenting them. These helicopter parents need to park it and turn off the engines.
    Full disclosure - I still have an adult child living here that needs to move on and out.

  14. now that I got that over -
    really like the picture. Looks like they are having fun and I imagine he doesn't wear that wig all the time.
    Lighten up - it's not like he's a stripper.

  15. Being the mother of two adult daughters, I loved this post. I think your daughter is very fortunate to have such a fun mother who also knows how to parent at the same time. The alligator comment was so true!

  16. I'm talking to them every day while they'll still sit on the couch close to me and listen... most of the time. Cause I know that day will come when they will do anything but want to be near me and or listen to me!

    Insightful and sage advice! I hadn't even thought about the parenting an adult stage... thank goodness I have your sensibilities to guide me :) Watch out for the alligators is a great place to begin!

  17. Spoken like a true mother.
    You had me LOL so hard.
    I find it very hard to edit too.

  18. It got a lot easier for me after Anne had kids.

    Or maybe she just became less critical once she started to realize how tough parenting is.

  19. Oh gosh, sounds almost impossible... THanks for the heads-up. My kids are 7 and 8 - going on teenagers though at times!

  20. Parenting is a full time job in addition to your "real" full time job.

  21. Hope you don't mind yet another comment here - but check out one of the best things of being a parent/dad

    father of bride - it's a great assignment

  22. Thanks for all your comments everyone!

  23. I am not a parent and so I have no experience in this area, but I was a child and many of the things you say about being a mother, I'm sure my mother could have said, too...In fact, almost any woman I know who is a mother HAS said similar things....I think it is the hardest job in the whole wide world! And certainly comes with many many land mines.
    Mike Nichols and Elaine May had a nightclub act many many years ago and one of the sketches was a mother and her son....Both of them were in their late 20's when they wrote and performed this fabulous act. In the Mother/Son scene...after much anxt with each other, the mother says something about..."But your my baby..." and the son says, "But Mother, I am 50 years old!" And the mother says..."It doesn't matter how old you are, even when you are 80, you will always be my baby!

    That's it, isn't it? LOL!

  24. Oh yeah, I like the alligator thing. I have three grown children. I have been known to say the wrong thing most of the time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.

  25. I'm sorry, I had to laugh at the picture. I absolutely agree with you, but I also wonder... your daughter has this look in her eyes, as if to say, "I can't wait to show my Mom this picture." Because she knows it will get a reaction from you.

    Adult-Children well... any adult and any child... sometimes... we like reactions. It's funny, not always healthy. But funny...

    Great letter!

  26. Well said Lilly!

    I'm not a parent but I am a daughter and I truly do not know how my mother has survived her five children this long! She often looks at my siblings, when their kids are giving them a hard time, and simply smiles saying "payback are a bitch" :-)


  27. Does it NEVER get better Lilly?? I think my therapy may just have to be a one way ticket to Australia. Laugh therapy is the BEST and I know you could provide! lol

  28. Hmmm... what's with the having to say anything, asking a myriad of questions. Don't hear us guys "communicating" :)

    Clint Eastwood, our role model!

  29. So funny! My mom and I have never had a tricky time with me in adulthood, but I think that is only because I married (to someone she very much approved of) at 19. I think once your daughter settles down with the chap of her choice, it won't be nearly as tricky. Unless you hate him! Let's hope he turns out to be a gem! :)

  30. I just love your "Message from your Mother posts."

    I totally agree with you about being a parent. So fulfilling, but also demanding, trying, and challenging.

    At least when they're little and young, you can impose your rules. When they're adults, we're restricted.


  31. What I'm finding out now is it's hard to be the mother of a daughter with a daughter. I'm having to bite my tongue a trillion times a day.

    This post is confirmation why you must NEVER stop blogging. If I had only a couple of blogs to read, you'd have to be one of them.

  32. I hate to burst your bubble .... BUT my kids are approaching their 50's AND I am still parenting! I bet your parents are too ... maybe? Have a lovely weekend, Lilly.

  33. I love the comparison with the alligator. Nothing could be more true. And at least there is a relief that it is the same every parent of a grown-up feels - whichever part of the world - It is a tough job.

  34. Hey Lady of OZ - there is some OZ right here in Chicago. Come on over and take a look.

  35. I'm coming over to check it out Lisleman...

  36. Oh Lily this reminded me so much of my youngest daughter. She was hell as a teenager, then evened out a bit on her mid twenties and I stopped tippytoeing around her. Now she is going through IVF and it's like she's 16 again. "Mum, you must stop fussying over me" when I ask how its going and "Don't you care about your future grandchild" if I don't. Thankfully she is the only one of four who is like that! You win some, you lose some!

  37. That made me laugh and thank my lucky stars I am not a parent and continue to case havoc for my own parents.

  38. Lilly...I just HAD to respond to your post above....I don't watch THE BIGGEST LOSER. but I am Addicted to TOP CHEP and TOP CHEF MASTERS!!! I just love that show. I think it is because all the people are creating something and they are 'artists' in their own way....

    A VERY VERY HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to you, my dear. I hope you have a lovely weekend and in particular a perfect Sunday!

  39. I kid you not but my mother is 90 and I am 71. Mothers do not ever get any better no matter how old you get. sorry to tell you that Jordan,lol.

  40. Lily, my love, why don't your newer posts have a comment gadget? I loved the 1940's kitsch -- at least until one woman touched her butt to her head and another turned into a human snake, at which point it started to ick me out a little....


Thanks for your comments.