Childrearing

Can We Ever Really Please Our Mothers?

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Can you ever please your mother? This is the question I’ve been asking myself ever since I told my mother last week that I was planning to elope. (Yes, I was proposed to – and I said yes!) My mother asked me if my fiancé and I had talked about wedding plans and I mentioned that we’d probably elope. I’ve always wanted a very small beach wedding and I wanted it only to include my fiancé, our children and myself. I could tell by my mother’s, “Aw, Becky! Really?” that I had disappointed her with these plans.

Don’t get me wrong: I could see why she would want to be at her only daughter’s wedding. But I’m also 37 years old and I figured that by now, I could do what I want without any guilt. Oh, so wrong I was. For two days after I told my mother of my elopement plans, I felt awful, and that I had disappointed her. So, now, my fiancé’s parents and my parents are invited to our beach wedding.

I gave in, because I couldn’t live with the thought of disappointing her. I asked some other friends, who are also around my age, if they ever feel like they still disappoint their mothers. “Um, every day!” responded one 38-year-old friend from New York. “My mother was really disappointed that I didn’t name one of my sons after her father,” she told me, as an example.

Another friend, who recently lost her job, was terrified to tell her mother for fear of disappointing her – even though it had nothing to do with her performance and everything to do with the company going under. I asked yet another friend if she ever feels like she pleases her mother and she answered, “Is that possible? Aside from answering her calls 10 times a day?”

I always thought that maybe there was a statute of limitations on being a child – I don’t know, like age 25? – when you could finally do whatever you want in life, without feeling guilty that you are disappointing your parents. And to make things even more difficult, at the same time we’re trying not to disappoint our mothers, we’re trying to please them, too. For example, one of my friends bought a house on her own at age 28 after working very hard to save money to do just that. “It was so I could please my mother and show her I could do it,” she told me.

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