I wanted to give my mother some money.
“Oh good!”, she says. “I can have your brother borrow it because he just got his credit card statement and he owed so much… You know your brother, he and his wife, they spend so much and they are at the mall all the time, buying this and that, and you know, they spend so much on their children, all the time…” She went on and on.
I was not sure I liked where the conversation was going and I told her so.
I asked her, trying to control my emotions (it is after all my money), “But mom, tell me… what good will that do? What will that achieve? Will that stop him from using his credit card or make him money smart? And you, what will you gain? She said, “Well, I can nag him.” My mother’s not-so-secret and ineffective weapon. “But that would only make him deaf, mother, not make him learn life’s lessons.”
Should I shake you till you get your senses back? Or should I just pin a medal on you, you silly, silly woman?
Uhm, who’s the mother here? Okay, she is.
I tried a different strategy. “Mom, a good reason for a dole-out is education, or to prevent eviction or something in the category of an emergency. Credit card debt is hardly an emergency. Why don’t you please just enjoy yourself please?”
But it was all in vain. She has made up her mind.
Parents, more often than not, are, really, well-meaning. But sometimes, their good intentions do more harm than good. That dole-out would only teach my brother that mommy is there if he gets into straits, that it is okay to spend because she is there, always there, and she will pay… No need to stand on his own two feet.
Love is tough and should be tough – sometimes – if lessons are to be learned. Sometimes, the most effective way to get a person to shape up is to set the panic button on high alert.
Sadly, mommies being mommies would, almost always, not let it get to that.
Oh, I do not know. Maybe I just want my mother to be selfish this time and enjoy herself with my money.
Or maybe I am the selfish one because I have given her that money so it is no longer my money and I had no right to it, to what is done with it or to where it goes.
Who am I kidding? I too am a mother. And I may do something equally damaging in the future.
Just a reminder, from me to you (and me to me) – to learn to discern when to push when the overpowering feeling is to embrace, to keep the fist tight when the heart is screaming because all it wants is to be abused, to not be afraid to be the one to dole out the lessons, realizing that greater love is needed for the greater good of the one who will be left behind. Because your children – they need to be able to stand on their own two feet and they have to learn – sooner rather than later – to go on without you.