After my grandmother died, my mother said something that got me thinking. She said, “I sometimes think to myself, ‘Oh, I have to ask Mom that,’ and I pick up the phone and half dial her number before I remember she’s gone.”
At the funeral last week, my aunt (by marriage) said something similar, She said that my Nana had been a mother to her at a time when she’d needed it the most — when my aunt was learning to be a mother herself. She talked about how much she’d valued my Nana’s advice.
I’ve been thinking about these things because it really highlighted for me the generation gap that is forming between me and my own mother. Although I love her and I love to chat with her on the phone about work or the kids or current events, one thing I don’t turn to her for is advice.
Instead, when I have a question, I ask the internet.
The internet has provided me with an endless, massive peer group and for some reason, I always consider the opinions or personal experiences of people who have access to a computer to carry more weight than those of my own mother. My ideas on parenting and on how children should be raised come mainly from blogs, Babycenter, or websites of parenting magazines.
Granted, my mom has some outdated ideas about motherhood. She’s always preaching that babies should be given a spoonful of rice cereal before bed to help them sleep — at the age of three weeks old. She considers the fact that we haven’t even begun to toilet train Little Miss Sunshine to be a crisis on par with the Middle East. And above all else, she’s really grossed out by breastfeeding — she was horrified when I tried it, and when I was still nursing my babies after six TOTALLY GROSS weeks, she pretty much brought a constant refrain of, “Are you going to be nursing those children through TO UNIVERSITY?”
So we don’t exactly see eye-to-eye, and I’m sure it’s been a disappointment to my mom that she sometimes tries to tell me about things that worked for her, and then I completely ignore her opinion in favour of what I’ve read on the internet.
My thoughts on most matters are shaped by the internet. I’m learning to cook from foodie blogs. I’m planning our trip to Disney by reading the Mom Advice section of their website — not by calling my own mom, who has been there at least three times. I’m deciding how to discipline our kids by reading books about child-rearing; I’m making decisions on their diets and their health by searching the web.
I’m happy with our decisions, too. I feel informed, like I’ve done my research and made the best possible choices. I feel independent, like I’ve got this parenting/running a household thing DOWN, and I can take on anything (as long as my internet connection remains up).
It’s sad, though, that my mom and I don’t have the same mentor/student relationship that, I think, a lot of mother-daughter relationships have taken in the past. There’s just so much information out there now, so many different opinions, that my mother’s voice is just one more in the crowd.
Maybe if she had a blog, I’d listen more.
I’m not sure I’m going to turn over a new leaf here and start turning to my mom for advice on all subjects. But I do think I need to let her in a little bit more…call her a little more often…ask her for her opinion before moving ahead. It’ll bring us one step closer, even though we live far apart.