Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mama On: Mothering

"What the daughter does, the mother did.  I hope you took notes."

Being a mother is hard work -- overtime work for some, and my mother took the job seriously.  As a direct response to her seriousness and focus on what she saw as her job, I too take the treatment of  children seriously.  So, I've got to tell you that it was kind of rough to hear the verbal abuse a mother saw fit to heap on the head of a little girl who couldn't have been any more than three or four years old.

Living in Atlanta I take MARTA, the public transportation system, a lot.  I got on the train and sat in the seat in front of a cute little girl and a young woman who was obviously her mother.  As I sat, the young woman scolded the child for pretty much everything she could think of, including breathing too loudly.  Her tirade grew angrier and louder as the train rumbled on and without turning, I could feel the little girl shrinking.  When the woman ran out of just about everything else she could have said, she blurted, "You funny looking thing." 

"Thing?"  Really?

This made me turn to look at her and the child.  Neither of them was, "funny looking."  They were both healthy and neatly dressed, care had been taken and given.  They were both clean and seemed well fed.  In fact, the little girl was quite cute, but like I said, she bore  very strong resemblance to her mother, which led me to blurt out a little bit of truth on my own... 

"She looks just like you."

Okay, admittedly the words had barely crossed my lips when I had a moment when all I could think of was, "uh-oh..."  But looking into that woman's eyes, there was nothing else for the Mamaknologist in me to do.  It was true, the child did look like her.  From the look on her face, I had no doubt she knew it, and now she knew that I did, too.  And I knew something else.  I knew that it was obviously true that the young woman was only doing what she had seen done and what had been done to her.  She was simply sharing the kind of treatment she had probably recieved and seen during her young life.  And she had clearly taken notes.

My mother would have said that all the daughter had actually done was to be a child.  She did what children do and as a result, she was taught that simply being a little girl would make her mother angry.  She was taught that her very existence was an inconvenience.  She was taught that the person she was probably most dependent upon resented her presence.  But, I'll bet that if I'd had the presence of mind to ask, they would have both told me that they loved each other.

That has to be confusing.

So the Mamaknologist take on this is that we need to be very careful what we teach our daughters because they will love us, and they will imitate us.  At some point in time, whether they know it or not, they will pass on our teachings to the next generation of daughters.  And if it is fact that we reap what we sow, it is our job to be our best so that our daughters will learn, love, support, and to do well from our lessons. 

Don't ever forget:  They're taking notes.


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