I’m Not Always Right. Wait. Yes I am! by Cindy Haney
(A Tribute to All Moms on Mother’s Day)
Remember when your mom used to tell you that if you don’t put your stuff up where it belongs, then you’ll never be able to find it when you really need it?
Well I’ve told Emily that eleventy-thousand times, but no matter how much I lecture, plead, command or threaten, she cannot grasp the concept of picking up after herself. She lives in a whirlwind tornado of messes and, because of that, can’t find anything ever.
It does not bother her that every single article of clothing she owns lies in a wrinkled pile of filth on the floor of her room. Last night, Emily, 15, spent two hours looking for her choir shirt, which she had to wear for school the next day. She accused everyone in the house of “taking her shirt”. After much yelling and gnashing of teeth, she finally found it. Guess where? You got it, at the bottom of the filth. I hate to say “I told you so” but “I told you so”. Score another one for me.
This is not the first time I’ve been right. Just ask my two teenagers. In fact, I am right ALL THE TIME. It’s a curse for all moms everywhere. Or is it a blessing? I’m not sure. But what I do know is that teenagers think they know it all, but it’s the moms who actually do. Why? Because this ain’t my first rodeo, sista’. I’ve around the block a few times, made a million mistakes along the way, and lived to tell about it.
I realize that it’s a universal rite of passage for teenagers to rebel against everything their mothers say. It’s also their right to think that their mom is the stupidest person that ever lived. I get that. I didn’t listen to my mom either. But guess what? I came to regret it and so did generations of teenagers-turned-adults just like me.
But what if we could break through the barriers, cut through the noise, and somehow reach our teenagers before it’s too late, before they do stupid things that they are sure to regret? What if we could spare them even a little bit of heartache? In other words, what if mom actually does KNOW BEST?
For My Daughters: A List of Things I KNOW I am Right About (because My Mom was right about these too):
• You’re Only 15.
It’s a simple statement, but it says it all. There’s a reason I won’t let you date until you are 16. When I was 15, I didn’t listen, and I dated an older guy who was a bad influence. He was not at all good for me. When we were forced to break up, I thought the world was coming to an end. I couldn’t see what my mom always saw… that I wasn’t ready for the complications of a relationship. Thank God she stepped in and did what was best for me.
• I Just Don’t Like Her.
I’ve liked most of my daughters’ girl friends. But there were a few that I didn’t like or trust. There was one in particular that Emily met in the third grade. I know that girl was just a child, but something in my gut told me she was trouble, and I told my daughter so. Emily didn’t listen, and hung on to the friendship for three more years after that. Every time she hung out with that girl, bad things happened. I stuck to my guns and insisted that Emily distance herself from her. By the time junior high was over, Emily began to see for herself that this girl was toxic, and decided to cut ties all by herself. Turns out I was right. Today, in high school, that same girl is rumored to spend her weekends smoking pot and chasing guys .
• He Doesn’t Deserve You.
Last night, Emily finally dumped a guy that wasn’t treating her right. He’d been pursuing her for several weeks. He would text her at all hours of the day and night and beg her to go out with him, but at school, he would completely ignore her and act like she didn’t exist. He said numerous times that he did not want a girlfriend, yet he never stopped pursuing her. I told her that if a guy was really, truly interested in you, he would treat you like a queen, and would proudly introduce you to all of his friends. She finally realized that he was wasting her time. “He doesn’t deserve me,” she said. Damn right, honey.
• Go Change Your Clothes Right Now!
This society is so sexed up, you can’t even go to the mall without seeing 10-year-olds dressed like skanks. Recently, Emily tried to leave the house in a bra-revealing tank top and short skirt. She threw a hissy fit when I made her go change. I don’t want them going around attracting dirty old men. My mom wouldn’t let me dress like that either. Guess what? My mom was definitely right, and so am I.
• There are Plenty of Fish in the Sea.
Don’t settle for a mediocre boyfriend just because he likes you. Make sure you like him back first. If you agree to go out with someone just because you feel sorry for them, it will only lead to pain and heartache when you have to tell him the truth later. Believe me, I know. Don’t settle for mistreatment and disrespect. Don’t settle for lame, boring, unimaginative and unromantic. Don’t settle for anything less than the fairy tale you dream of. Every girl deserves that. He’s out there, you just have to be patient and wait.
• You Can’t Rescue All the Stray Puppies.
Amanda is a particularly tender-hearted person. She feels great empathy for the underdogs and the outcasts. She tries to befriend and rescue all the lost souls she meets. There’s a Goth guy in one of her classes that is a depressed individual who shows signs of abuse. It scares me that she has befriended him. This is admirable, but there’s also a fine line that should not be crossed with an emotionally damaged person. I know she wants to, but you can’t always save all the lost souls.
• Nothing Good Ever Happens After Midnight.
I hated it when my Dad used to say this. I remember hating my 11 pm curfew, too. I thought I was smart enough to handle all-night partying. But when I got to college, I realized that nothing good ever did happen after midnight. Staying up late typically ended in me making bad decisions. Which is why it is my job to enforce a curfew, whether you think it is fair or not. You will thank me later. And by the way, thank you, Dad.
• Degree Before Marriage.
An education is the most important thing. I expect you to wait for love and marriage until you get your college degree. There is plenty of time for marriage and family later, but only a small window of opportunity to complete your education. My parents stressed the importance of an education, and now they can proudly say that they put four children through college. Even if you become a stay-at-home mom in your later years, you will always have your degree to fall back on. Life sometimes doesn’t go as planned, so as a woman, it is absolutely critical to be able to support yourself.
• Save Your Money.
I didn’t. I could write a book on all the financial mistakes we’ve made. I’m still paying for them today. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be smarter with your money. You can, and I expect you to save every dime you can. Financial security outweighs a closet full of cute outfits any day.
• Listen to Your Mother.
And finally, even though it’s counter-cultural, listen to your mother. And your dad as well. Remember they have already been down the road you are traveling, and they know all the roadblocks and detours. I promise you will arrive at the door of adulthood much better for it. I would never steer you wrong!
Happy Mother’s Day!