I Don’t Want to Know!
There comes a time in every parent’s life when we have the opportunity to sit back and watch our children grown up, striking out on their own, starting families, raising their children. We get to watch as they stumble and struggle just like we did – wondering how they were going to manage to get their own children to listen to their oh-so wise words and listen to their own experiences. Surely, they understand that this is for their own good. And we get to shake our heads and laugh!
I have heard it called the Mother’s Revenge. You know, you heard your own mother say these same words, “You are going to have one just like you!” And we probably did!
Today, I was thinking about my own daughters and all that we went through as a family during their growing-up years. I shared with some people today one piece of advice I received from a battle-worn mom of four boys as she was watching her last graduate from high school. I asked her what her secret was. Know what she said? “If you remember one thing, it’s – I don’t want to know!”
At the time, I thought it meant that she just didn’t want to know what they were doing.
While, in some events, that was probably true, what she meant was that their privacy needed to be protected just as much as ours. Then she shared with me what she meant, and I took the advice to heart as my own daughters entered high school.
But, more than that, I took the advice to heart in how I related to my friends and other family members. Respect for privacy. Don’t ask – let them tell you. Be the one they can trust – that they know will not judge or lecture. Be the one who will pick up the pieces if needed, and if not, just be there to hold a hand and dry a tear.
In choosing the mantra, “I don’t want to know,” I chose to allow my children to become themselves. They were taught that there are consequences for each and every action. I did not want to know each finite detail – I did not want to micro manage their lives.
Did they confide in me? Oh, yes! A lot more than I really wanted to know. But what had happened was the opposite of the mantra.
Because I respected them as humans with feelings, opinions, and ideas, I let them make their mistakes. Oh, I was there to pick up the pieces and smooth the edges if they needed it. And there were many times, I wanted to swoop in like the big mother bear and take care of everything. But, you see, I didn’t want to know. (I did, but realized that there was truth in the old adage, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”)
One my other mantras taught to the girls, to which they would roll their eyes and finish in their best “motherly” voice – “You get what you give!” They knew that to gain and keep respect, they had to give it. Coupled this with “I don’t want to know,” and they learned life lessons that made them into the amazing young women and mothers that they are today.
By allowing them to become themselves without micro managing, they learned who they were as young women and have made a very proud mother here. And they confided in me all the time. In fact, there were things that they believed I didn’t know – but I most certainly did. I just chose to pretend not to know – I chose my battles.
In doing so, I also made it through the teen years with relatively few gray hairs! Oh, the tales they told me! Sometimes, I kept repeating to myself, “I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know! Dear God, I don’t want to know!”
But I did know, and I was proud when they also related how they solved a problem or what they did to get themselves out of a pickle. And I held their hands and dried their tears. Sometimes, all I did was sit quietly and listen and be.
And the night I got a call that my youngest had escaped her abusive husband? Her father raced to Utah, and carried her and her baby back to our home. Now, she tells me that knowing that we would always be there and that we respected her for her decisions without judgment is what gave her the strength to escape.
Yes, I didn’t want to know. But I did!