Women always complain that it’s useless to vent to a man because as soon as you tell him a problem he starts offering up solutions, instead of just listening.
I think moms are even worse in this regard, and I might be the worst of all moms.
I’ve always been an ameliorator, a negotiator, an advocate, a defender, a worker-bee on behalf of those I love. I could go into a long blah-blah about the psychological forces that made me this way, but that’s just about me. What’s universal? Motherhood makes all women into instinctual problem solvers.
From the moment we respond to that first newborn cry (remember the almost mechanical sound their earliest cries had?), we want to solve whatever’s the matter. We rush forth with food, shushing, the just-right jiggle, a pacifier, a different pacifier if the first one didn’t work. Later, it’s a Looney-Toons Bandaid, ketchup for the unwanted chicken, a negotiated settlement to a sharing dispute, and in emergencies, candy.
When my kids were small and I couldn’t quickly right what was wrong, I called in experts: a reading tutor; a therapist who specialized in night terrors. No regrets there—they really helped. But as my daughters have grown—they are now 13 and 10—I’ve learned to question my fix-it reflex.
I stopped myself from emailing our school when my older daughter was spending 3-plus hours on homework a night, and now, months later, she is somehow finishing in a more tolerable two hours (with time leftover to watch some of the Knicks game with her dad—huzzah!).
When a friend conflict came up with my younger daughter, I let her tell me the whole saga and purposely withheld my sage advice. Now they are getting together for playdates and I haven’t heard another word about it.
When I don’t jump to address every issue, most of them seem to melt away on their own, or even better, my kids figure out how to handle them independently. That’s my truth for right now.
What’s true for parenthood doesn’t necessarily go for marriage, however. There, I’ve learned that ignoring problems and hoping they’ll go away is foolish (if what you really want is to stay married). Better to do something about it. And sex is usually the best thing to do.
I’m going to be a crank on this one and say that my best tip is not to give a tip unless you are directly, explicitly asked for one.
Women, especially moms, give tips to one another constantly. Our motives are pure, but I think we sometimes drive each other crazy with our constant suggestions of how to do things better, faster, smarter, more creatively. Wait until someone says, “Hey, do you have any ideas for me on this?” to let fly.
Wow, is this stuff good. Though now I’m intrigued by Alicia Ybarbo’s find—that Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer. Could it possibly be better? With my dark circles, I may start using both.