driving in the front seat
Look ma, no car seat!

Although her facts may be out of date, the internet could never teach patience and true love the way she can

A couple of random facts about myself:

  • I went to my first New Year’s Eve dance party when I was six months old.
  • I tuck my young kids into bed at 8:00 pm every night.

The metaphorical gap between these two statements is huge. It spans four decades and includes significant lifestyle changes that have altered the way we do things and the way we think about things.

My mom’s generation parented with the “let-them-fall-to-learn” attitude. While today’s generation of new parents wish, “if only we could put interlocking foam  mats around the entire house.”

Perhaps we over-parent, while back then they under-parented. The bottom line is: we think differently. And this is why my mom and I argue so much. It’s also the reason – a poor reason I admit – why I haven’t taken the time to say, “I appreciate you. Thank you. I love you.”

A generation of know-it-alls

Ok, truthfully we argue a lot because:

1) We have similar personalities
2) We are both really sarcastic to each other and,
3) I am so much more enlightened.

Our arguments almost always end with me sending her an email or text message, highlighting a Google-researched article on how to raise a child…the proper way.

So, I’m like:

  • Don’t you know that you don’t put babies to sleep on their stomachs?
  • You never wrap a feverish child in blankets.
  • Don’t you know? Breast is best.
  • Come on ma, car seats are mandatory.

And, she’s like:

  • Car seats? Never owned one.
  • You thrived on formula.
  • And, as far as sleeping on your stomach? Your head is round…You are welcome.

Looking into the mirror

first time seeing snow
First-time parents. First time seeing snow.

After becoming a parent, I naturally started to reflect…on my childhood, my parents’ decisions while I was growing up and ultimately their mistakes.

But I soon realized that it’s wrong for me to criticize the mistakes and decisions that have ultimately made my life so easy. The newly-arrived immigrants, who left the warm island of Jamaica in 1974 to brave their first cold Toronto winter and bring me into this world, worked long and hard to give me and my brother happy lives.

We were born having it all – from the big things, like a good education and a home in a safe neighbourhood, to the small insignificant things, like ballet, skating and swimming lessons. I also had the freedom to indulge in silly childhood whims and fads. Back in the day I collected stickers – puffy stickers, smelly stickers, shiny stickers, googly-eyed stickers – Madonna-inspired bracelets and friendship beads.

Full Circle

Lately, my son has been complaining about his legs aching – just typical childhood pains, nothing serious. So, I have been rubbing his legs a lot and remembering my own childhood leg pains. In spite of my incessant complaints and whining, my mom rubbed them whenever I asked. She was patient. And she sang to me, it seems, the only song she knew:

…Sing as we go and let the world go by
Singing a song, we march along the highway
Say goodbye to sorrow
There’s always tomorrow so think of today…

~1934 Sing As We Go

I suppose, if I have to admit it…the gap between me and my mom really isn’t that wide. In spite of the inevitable differences from generation to generation and the technological changes that alter our lifestyle, some things remain the same.  Ultimately, we are all simply trying to do our best and love our children.

So here it goes…”Ma, I appreciate you. Thank you. I love you.”

My lips quivered as I typed those words.