From the Daughter’s Files

Mother Knows Best  Knows A Lot Knows More Than We’ll Admit

-By the blogger’s daughter

“So…how do you hang stuff on the walls without using nails? And if you were hypothetically going to wash all of your clothes in one load, how do you do it without ruining them? And my roommate has the flu what do I do?”

It has begun.

Twenty-somethings we are (finally) out on our own. And moms you are probably already answering these questions in your head.

They say your relationship with your mother changes as you get older, but when they talk about your twenties it’s all about looking at her fondly for her newly recognized wisdom. I’d say it’s more like quiet desperation.

This stage of life is akin to being handed a comprehensive final exam without (a) having had the chance to sit through lectures 5-30 and (b) knowing that there will be questions with multiple okay answers or no right answers.

So you do the only thing that you can do –you cheat off of somebody else! And your parents are probably sitting closest to you. And your mother may move her hand and let you see some of her answers if you are really nice to her. Of course some of her answers may be wrong but she has a heck of a lot more of this test filled in than you!

There are some big ones like filling out personal checks and meal planning. But it’s the everyday questions that cut me down to size.

The other evening it was a potato.

I have a science degree and can tell you the molecular structure of the potato, but I am at a loss when it comes to actually cooking the little brown tuber. It’s a deceivingly simple vegetable. So with kitchen neatly prepped out comes the phone.

“Hi mom! You’re not busy or anything right?…Do you wash a potato with soap?…So when the potato recipe says ‘slice’ is that long-ways or short?…And it says bake but can I microwave?…What does the broiler on an oven actually ever do anyway?…Oh this recipe calls for several spices. I have the main one but I never bought parsley (because how often could you need it??)…Well spices are expensive!…Can I come over and borrow some?…What are you making for dinner tonight?”

I’m pretty sure that when Solomon wrote Proverbs he included ‘A time to stubbornly assert your independence, and a time to suck it up and call your mother.’ If you’re currently on bad terms with your mother you have to turn to Google or Pinterest where other people’s moms have posted their answers. But it never seems to turn out the same.

This may be just a phase and steadily I will learn one mistake at a time, but until then I will continue to get my answers from the closest reliable sources.

“Hi dad! How’s it going? So my toilet is making this really funny sound…”


It’s right on the fence whether I will have my “Mom Card” revoked or just suspended. I didn’t break any laws, per se. But apparently I have not completely fulfilled my motherly duty by ‘caring enough’.

I have a daughter graduating from college this month. She is the second of my entire personal family tree to own a college degree and I am eager to throw some confetti at the ticker-tape parade. Every time I considered “going back to college” I was held back by the thought, “I’ll have to take math.” If they would have accepted only the essay questions involving a speeding train, a crossing car and a pelican, I just might have gone for it. (Answer: the pelican should not have been driving the car in the first place.)

My daughter can speed read textbooks that are clearly written in Greek for secret societies in code.  And now she is pondering her next step which involves testing the waters in another state.

As yet another huge change descends on our family, the question I’ve asked my children from the womb re-surfaces. What do you want to be when you grow up?

The question has evolved to include what I feel are obvious sidebars.

Whatever you think you’re going to do, it had better 1) pay your bills, 2) be personally fulfilling, 3) allow you to move out into the big world, and 4) be respectable enough I can brag about it for a while.

The question involves a lot of thought, and it’s not like they haven’t had years to ponder it. As a matter of fact, I myself ponder the same thing but I don’t have parents waiting for the answer anymore. So the pressure’s off.

Based on where all of my money goes, I’d vote for the professions of orthodontist, auto mechanic, owner of a Target store, or perhaps diaper manufacturer. If I had a nickel for every diaper I’ve ever changed, they could just sit back and inherit. Also a nice way to go if you can pull it off.

As I sat one afternoon with friends and family, the subject of graduating and job finding circled the room. One of my friends had a daughter who spent a couple thousand dollars flying to Texas for a job interview and was offered the position. The daughter had schooled and trained hard for her career choice and this seemed like very good news.

My sweet mom friend sat there and cried.

I’m trying to digest the fact that she is already desperately missing her daughter. The daughter who just attained huge success and reached her latest goals. The one about to become independent and self sufficient and fulfilled. It’s even respectable! Surely love can span a couple of states?

From where I’m sitting, it feels like the whole point of my career, “Mom”, is to work myself out of it. If the kids are no longer coming to me to fill their needs because they are well trained to fill them their selves, I have succeeded in my job. It’s a win-win when a child becomes a happy, healthy, and whole adult. It may take a lifetime and that’s OK, but steady progress is delightful.

I don’t want to be a speed-bump in the fast lane of my child’s road trip.

But when my daughter compares the two moms sitting on the couch, one forlorn and one ecstatic, her frown indicates which one she’d prefer. And I know my “Mom Card” is up for review.

I’ll have to be on my best behavior for a while. I can see the future ‘care packages’ will have to contain at least a dozen fuzzy socks, some Starbucks cards, definitely some country music selections, and a tin of chocolate chip cookies.

And very likely some confetti.