Some of the ways I differ from my mother:
- I love my daughter unconditionally. It doesn't matter what she does, I'll never tell her she's not good enough to be loved. Everything she does brings something to my life, even if it's surprise that she'd do such a thing! Mostly, she's a joy to be with.
- I'm happy when my daughter's happy. It doesn't matter if she's not living her life the way I anticipated. It's her life and her decisions are right for her. She's a fine, trustworthy, hard-working person and I'm proud of her just the way she is. When she speaks to her sister without telling me I'm happy that they're friends. I don't complain that she hadn't let me know of the contact beforehand.
- I own my own emotional state. I never blame anyone if I'm having a bad day. I'm cranky for a reason and it's not because someone else is in my life, it's because of decisions I've made that haven't worked the way I wanted them to (or I simply haven't had enough sleep).
- I own my own financial state. If I've made bad financial decisions, they've been my decisions. If they've been based on advice from someone else it was still my decision to follow that advice. If I lend money I make sure people understand that it must be paid back. I there isn't that clear understanding, I don't expect to see the money again. I don't lend money I can't afford to lose.
I know those four comments probably make my mother sound like the harridan from hell. Sometimes she is, but mostly she's just a person who doesn't know herself very well, who has never taken responsibility for her own life and, now, never will. She's simply who she is, the good and the bad.
My brother-in-law celebrated his 60th birthday last weekend. Family and friends gathered on a paddle boat (the paddle is fake but the boat looks good) for dinner and conversation. We sailed down the river and back for three hours. It was a good night. It was that night I discovered that, even with all my efforts to NOT be like my mother, I am.
On the dock before boarding, someone nearby sniffled. My mother rummaged in her cavernous handbag and came up with a clean tissue to hand over. Later that evening, during dessert she dove into her handbag again and handed over a 'wet ones' (pre-moistened towelette) for someone to wipe their fingers. At the same time someone dropped their spoon. My daughter, not prepared to wait for anything in life, even waiters, rummaged in her handbag (larger than my mother's) and came up with a zip-lock plastic bag containing cutlery. She handed over a clean spoon. At my table some guests were discussing contacting each other. I rummaged in my (equally large) handbag and came up with pen and paper.
We each have a different focus in life: my mother is focused on keeping people clean, my daughter is focused on comfort (she keeps moisturisers and anything that will make the consumption of food easier), I'm focused on communication (I keep all sorts of stationery items in my bag including a stapler and staple remover). But in our own ways, we're similar.
So, after more than twenty years of making conscious decisions to be the kind of person I want to be and not the person I was brought up to be, I find I've missed a bit. It's not such a bad thing actually. It does give a sense of continuity. I got all the important things right. This little thing that shows connection can stay.