Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Inevitable Conversations

There was a Jewish proverb once shared with me by my good friend and college roommate, Danielle, that has always bothered me a great deal:

"As the daughter does, the mother did."
The idea here is that no matter what you may have done in your life, there is a good chance your mother either did it, or thought about doing it. This, for me, is disturbing on so many levels:
1) I can't imagine my mother having a crush on a boy like I did in high school, let alone doing keg stands and occasionally defying her parents. I can't imagine her talking back to my sweet grandfather, coming home past curfew, or even (gasp) kissing someone other than my father.
2) Though I probably fall somewhere soundly in the middle between rock star and saint (okay...closer to the rock star end), I cannot imagine my own daughter pulling some of the same shenanigans I did. There is no way I'll tolerate back talk (at least, when she's a teenager....it's a work in progress right now), nor will I tolerate parties without adult supervision, profanity, or anything else that I, myself, have at one point done.
Double standard? Absolutely!!!
Taking all of this into consideration, the inevitable is bound to occur: at some point in her formative years, my darling daughter will start to ask questions....questions I am not so sure I want to answer.
Do I come clean with all my past missteps and use it as a teachable moment? Do I lie to avoid losing authoritative ground and good modeling? Or do I go with a generalized scapegoat (e.g. A wise person learns from their mistakes, a wiser one from the mistakes of others....).
I am not sure what I'll say...I'm only sure that I will not be ready for it.
Needless to say, there was a fantastic article addressing this very subject in the weekend magazine of the Washington Post. Brought to my attention by the most fabulous woman and mother, Samantha, it discusses the fact that everyone has a past and determining how you are going to account for that past when questioned by teenagers is one of the many great conundrums of parenting.
The must-read article, "Maternal Truths" by Liza Mundy can be viewed at:
Finally, to put it all in persepctive, think of the most shameful thing you did in your younger years, and then imagine both your mother and child doing it.
At least for now, I am content trying to explain how babies come out of their mommy's belly buttons.

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