Now, before you call me old fashioned…

28 Jun

think about this. You’ve birthed your daughter. Raised her through infancy, toddler hood, childhood and adolescence. You look warmly (and maybe a little sadly) at her back as she leaves for university, travel, a job, something outside your house.

Then she calls you 4 times a DAY.

She calls you her “best friend”.

She speaks to you on the phone for hours and hours.

Does this sound like something you want for your future?

This article in the New York Times points to this kind of close knit mother-daughter bonding as being a new phenomenon, likely due to smaller family sizes and delayed marriage and childbearing.

What it doesn’t point out very well, in my opinion at least, is the inherent creepiness. I love my daughters. I want every good and noble thing in this world for them. I want them to be happy, successful, fulfilled people as they grow up.

I do not want to know their secrets. I do not want to talk to them for “hours and hours” I do not want to be their “bestest friend”. I want to be their mother.

Is this the disconnect with mothering today? is this the result of being told that our children are “pwecious” and perfect and wonderful little creatures we should adore? Is this what happens when you make your children the sum focus of your life? Because I can’t help but think that this is exactly what happens when you can’t find your own life.

There hasn’t been much study, and it’s claimed that communication can’t be a bad thing, but man. If my husband called me that much, I’d lose my mind! What happened to independence, finding your own way in the world? What happened to parenting as opposed to being friends? If you’re friends, can you say the things that NEED to be said?

And man…I don’t know about you guys, but after 18 years, I want them out in the world making their way, not talking to me on the phone.

20 Responses to “Now, before you call me old fashioned…”

  1. Netter June 28, 2007 at 11:34 am #

    My mom’s lucky I call her once a week. I know she misses me, what with being 6 hours away, but she’s never been my BFF. She can’t be, she’s my mom. The things I talk with my girlfriends about, or what I used to talk to my girlfriends about, are not things I will discuss with my mother. There needs to be a separation there. What do you do when your BFF becomes Grandma and you become chopped liver?

  2. roxy June 28, 2007 at 12:28 pm #

    I haven’t finished the article, because I’m tearing up pretty bad. My mom and I had this level of closeness as adults, (well we didn’t speak 4 times a day; I don’t feel the need to call my husband that often. Jeez) and I think it’s a wonderful thing. To me that’s the way a good mom relates to her grown daughter. The part of the phenomenon that is worrying me a little, is I’ve seen it in relationships between moms and their teen & tween daughters.

    My mom had some way of seamlessly balancing authority and friendliness so that she was my confidante and galpal but at the same time was a rule maker and teacher.

    I hope so much that Emsy feels as close to me as I did with my mom, but if we don’t have as similar personalities and tastes as mom & I did that’ll be OK too. I see the article as pretty positive (so far…) but I definitely think there’s a possibility that a girlfriend mama could be a weak parent.

    It’s interesting what Netter said about the relationship changing when “BFF becomes grandma.” I often wonder how mom & I would relate with the parenting choices I make- especially I wonder if extended breastfeeding would wig her out; I think it would have. Things might have been very different. With her around I might not have been Research Mama because I’d have relied more on her experiences, so I may not have been the crunchywannabe that I am.

    Humph. It never occurred to me not to want my baby to be a friend when she’s grown up. I do wonder how I’ll feel when it comes time to be a mom to a teenybopper. I’m sure it’ll suck when I necessarily decide that it’s more important to be mom than BFF in a situation but Emsy’ll be stronger for it when I do.

  3. thordora June 28, 2007 at 12:41 pm #

    I think my perspective is very much colored by the fact that I had no mother figure after childhood, so I’m a little more predisposed to the “kick em out and let them deal” end of things.

    I envy that you had this with your Mom.

  4. Maddie June 28, 2007 at 12:45 pm #

    My mom and I talked at least 4-5 times a day, she was all my brother and I had left after dad died. I dot regret having that closeness, and knowing she was there for me. She was my best friend, and I could tell her anything. I dont see the problem.

  5. CamiKaos June 28, 2007 at 12:57 pm #

    My mom and I talk all the time. at least 2 times a day and I hope that some day my daughter and I have that. Some day. I am 30 now and I don’t need my mom to put me to bed or tell me the rules… I am an adult and so is she.

    We didn’t have that type of a relationship when I was a kid though. When I was a kid she was my mom. Simple.

    Now I am not and she is one of my best friends. I think I am really lucky.

  6. ann adams June 28, 2007 at 1:25 pm #

    I know that many of the things I believed at 30 are no longer true at almost 70.

    Five times a day seems a little much but I’m not a phone person. Tim and I talk fairly often but it’s more a touching base kind of thing.

    I wish my other son would call more often and make time to see me when he’s home. Sometimes I’m a little sad when he doesn’t even though I know how busy he is in the couple of days he’s here.

    Once we arranged a lunch date through my blog comment box. Now that’s weird.

    Bet my visitors thought we’d both lost it.

  7. ann adams June 28, 2007 at 1:25 pm #

    Oops – paragraphs out of order. Tim and I did the blog lunch thing – not my army son.

  8. Eden June 28, 2007 at 1:40 pm #

    I think it has to do w/ the fact that so many people *want* to be best buds w/ their kids. Instead of parenting, they want to be BFF so they allow anything (I don’t want to cite examples b/c I don’t want to seem like I’m hijacking the discussion). It’s really not surprising when the kids grow up that they do feel like their moms/dads are their BFF.

    I once said something to Flora about how when I grew up we would be able to go out for lunch once a week or something. She went apeshit b/c she seriously expected to live with me and why would I need to make appointments to see her since I would see here every day?

    I also think you’re onto something when you suggest that we have our identities so wrap around the “parent” part of who we are that when the role of parent changes, we’re not sure how to treat the relationship. I’d like my kids to be friendly w/ me as adults but calling me 4x a day and getting together several times a week? I love them but we all need to be individuals as well.

  9. Netter June 28, 2007 at 2:08 pm #

    Dora, I think the separation I see between my mom and the women in the article is exactly the point you’re trying to make. She raised my sisters and I to be independent women who take care of ourselves. She would never buy me groceries at my age (not that she knows from eating healthy). But, she is there for me whenever I need her. I remember in the throws of PPD calling her and just sobbing because my baby wouldn’t stop crying. I do think a lot of it comes from the fact that her mom was raised from age 13 without a mom and in turn, raised her daughters to be self-sufficient. Some people might see the relationship as distant, but I haven’t talked to anyone on the phone for hours on end since high school.

  10. nell June 28, 2007 at 2:15 pm #

    I have a friend whose mother considers her kids her “best friends” and it totally creeps me out. I have a great relationship with my mother, but we both have friends as well and I don’t think that I need her to be my friend, and she doesn’t need me to be her friend.

    I agree with Eden as well, when she says that parents have this urge to be permissive and want their kids to not just love them, but like them, and want to hang out with them. I get it, but it’s not me. I’m okay when my daughter tells me I’m the meanest mommy ever because I won’t buy her candy. I’m not her best friend, I’m her mother, and that’s not going to change as soon as she hits college.

    Great post btw, it’s a topic that I think about on occasion, but haven’t in a while.

  11. Maddie June 28, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    I have to admit, my mom helped out alot and I think mainly becuase my dad made her promise to take care of my brother and I, and to make sure we had what we needed. We had some tough money times, and mom did help out, as my mom and as my friend. I feel like I can go to my mom about anything and everything not just because she is my mom. Mom has given me advice as a friend and a mom. Everyone has their own opinion about it, but some are probably better off not having that closeness, and some thrive on it.

  12. bine June 28, 2007 at 7:17 pm #

    maybe i am old fashioned, because i believe authority is important in parent-child relationships. that doesn’t mean you have to dust off your cane, but i think parents aren’t supposed to be friends, they should be parents. and i think it’s important to kick your kids out and let them deal at one point, or otherwise they’ll never learn to (parents have to learn to deal, too – for many parents i know, letting go of their babies was at least as hard as it was for the children to walk on their own feet).
    i was very close to my mom, and the frequency of our calls depended on the need of advice and exchange, sometimes more a week or two went by without calls, sometimes we talked more frequently. i only realised how important her advice was for me when she was gone. i think it’s good for everyone who is lucky to have someone like this. but it’s not healthy for you and your mom to be best friends. you need people your own age for that, who’re going through the same woes and who don’t have the advantage of age on you.

    sorry folks, i’m a little drunk. i feel i’m babbling. thank you for your patience.

  13. thordora June 28, 2007 at 7:54 pm #

    I think there’s a line between “close to my mom” and “creepy close”. I found the way the relationships were portrayed in this article (and in other places) almost incestous.

    It’s important to be there for your children-but children grow up. They MUST. And they need to learn boundries as well.

    and I wish I was drunk!

  14. Maddie June 28, 2007 at 10:10 pm #

    I basically went off my mom, I didnt depend on her, she just did what she wanted to do. When my mom died, the priest who helped me through, said ” I could have that closeness and love with great pain, or no closeness, and more paint and regret…. I chose closeness and more pain, and I regret nothing. I certainly understand where everyones views are coming from, I wont judge that.

  15. weedragon June 29, 2007 at 12:53 am #

    I think it really depends on the situation. I am very much my own person and do as I think is right, regardless of what anyone else says. However, I am very close with my mom, and we do talk often (not 4 times a day though!) She wasn’t a permissive parent when I was growing up, and other than a hellish attitude when I was a teenager, I never did anything horrible. Now that I’m an adult, my mom acknowledges this and we have a different relationship. She still advises me and I respect her input and experience, but she doesn’t tell me what to do, because she knows I am fully capable of taking care of myself. I can talk to my mom about things I can’t talk to anyone else about mainly because she has a much different perspective than any of my friends my own age. She is very intelligent and interesting, and I’m glad that we have the relationship that we do.

  16. thordora June 29, 2007 at 9:54 am #

    I think what most of you is saying is that you were close, but you weren’t “bestest buddies”. Which makes sense. I worry about the results of children being that close to parents-how they will be able to interact independently in the world. My Dad and I are close, but we aren’t friends. We’re father and daughter.

  17. Kim June 29, 2007 at 6:46 pm #

    i think being a best friend includes having good boundaries and disagreements and hating each other every once and a while. i have never been my mother’s best friend, and have always wished we were a little closer (i don’t mean by the frequency of our visits of calls, but by the sense of connectedness and shared experience). i love my mom and respect her and know the feeling is mutual, but i still hope for something closer with my kids. i believe we can set limits and still be friends with our kids- just as i believe i can be a good midwife even if my boundaries are fuzzier than other health care providers.

  18. Kind of Crunchy Mama June 30, 2007 at 9:50 am #

    I didn’t read the article, but I’m going to guess that being raised in a single parent household is a factor. I know my mother treated me more like an equal than a child in some ways because she didn’t have anyone else to bounce things off of. Children often get more power when there isn’t a spouse in the picture. But my mom also prided herself in raising us to be independant, so while we are close I still always made my own decisions.

  19. thordora June 30, 2007 at 10:17 am #

    That might be true. I know my father and I have a much different relationship than a lot of my friends do with their parents since it was just the two of us for so long. But there’s still a very clear line between us. He’s one of my favorite people in the world, but he’s not who I’d call a best friend.

  20. Meredith August 6, 2007 at 11:32 am #

    Watching things like Oprah where woman repeatedly proclaim “My mom is my best friend” while all guests and audience members tear up, I get the oogies, too.

    I love my mom. She is the first person I turn to when things go awry. However, she isn’t my best friend. I don’t tell her my innermost secrets, I don’t call her, she calls me.

    I would rather he be proud that she raised an independant, loving daughter than call her 4 times a day because I need her to be involved in every aspect of my life. Perhaps I am a bit jaded because my Vivienne is such a royal poop right now, I don’t WANT to be her best friend.

    But mostly, it took me a few years in my 20s to understand that having that relationship with your mom is not the norm and I needn’t feel slighted because we don’t want to be bestest girlfriends.

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