Don’t Tell Mom
I was recently struck by the way the stories we want to spare our parents from change when we become adults. When we are small, we want to avoid getting in trouble or feeling disapproval by our parents. As adults, we want to preserve their peace of mind as much as possible by not telling them the inevitable bad news life will deal to all of us. At least, that’s how it works in my family.
I’m not sure my family is unusual in this practice of not telling our mother what’s really going on to spare her some worry. I wonder if she is especially prone to turning things into larger disasters by virtue of having grown up in a scarcity culture during World War II after the great depression, a child of a broken home during a time when divorce was not so common. Her father was one of the original dead beat dads who was a womanizer and gambler who often didn’t make time or money for his kids. I know all moms worry, but I wonder if my mother does more than average. She has 4 grown kids who each have had their share of hardship.
When we are kids, we say “Don’t tell mom” about things like we got called to the principal’s office in school, we got a bad grade, we broke something we weren’t supposed to touch, or we broke some rule or other.
As adults, at least in my family, we say “don’t tell mom” about marriages ending, health crises, financial difficulties such as job loss, grandchildren having problems in school or socially.
My son was so accustomed to my mother always being kept in the loop that he didn’t understand why I didn’t call her before I went to the hospital with a serious injury. He called her from the backseat of the car to tell her we were on the way to the ER. She showed up in the ER in time to learn that I had broken my one functional arm (my left arm is nearly useless from the stroke). Mom had never quite recovered from being called on vacation to let her know that she needed to come home right away because I had had a stroke when I was 6 months pregnant and they didn’t know if I would live. She has been in a perpetual state of worry about me since I was disabled by the stroke when I was 35 in 1999. I try not to share too much bad news about my health with her unless it’s absolutely necessary.
There have been a total of 4 divorces among my mother’s 4 children, and my own marriage ended in separation 3 years ago. My parents have been married for 65 years and don’t comprehend why it would be necessary to break up, especially when there are grandchildren involved. To them, this is a tragedy.
The saying “bigger kids, bigger problems” certainly rings true here. I am planning to have an elective tummy tuck next year. Don’t tell Mom.
Thank you reading :)