When I was about 13, my mom picked me up from school one day and said, "Do you notice anything different about me?"
I said, "You're smiling?"
"No!" she said, trying to hide her hurt feelings. "I got my ears pierced."
That story has become a family joke, but I think it says a lot about how I saw my mom back then. I grew up in a relatively happy, in-tact family, but I remember stretches when everybody was pretty grumpy--especially Mom. Now that I'm a mother, I can understand why. She worked full-time, helped maintain a household with all of the stresses that that entails, and she had to deal with my sister and me--and we weren't a walk in the park as teens.
None of that takes into consideration her deeper, inner life. If my mom had hopes, dreams and secrets, I didn't know or particularly care. She was just Mom.
This week, Sarah Ockler's new book, FIXING DELILAH, comes out. It's about uncovering family secrets, about how mothers assume they know everything about their teens, know what's best for them, and sometimes even lie to protect them. And it's about how teens don't always look at their mothers as real people, but just as "mom." Teens (and all daughters, really) often forget that Mom had an entire life before we came along.
My daughters are young enough that I feel fairly safe in assuming things about them--I know pretty much all there is to know about their lives. (That's me, btw, in the photo with my oldest, back when she would let me hold her on my lap.) But the time is coming when I won't know as much, and I know that assuming can be dangerous. I also wonder whether I'll have the courage to share the parts of myself and my past that could help them better understand me as they--and I--grow older.
If you're a teen, how would you describe your relationship with your mom? What kinds of assumptions do you find yourself making about her? What do you wish you knew about her? And what do you wish she knew about you?
For moms, what do you wish your daughter knew about your life now and/or before she was born? What assumptions do you make about her that may or may not be justified? And how do you think she'd react if she knew some of your secrets?