Read these travails of a meddlesome mom

A seasoned mother shares her delightful experience of raising her kids from childhood through adolescence into adulthood

Woman advising teenage girl

I’m not exactly like Marie Barone, the mother of Raymond in the hit sitcom “Everybody loves Raymond”. I’m not as ridiculously overprotective of my adult children—at least in my opinion. But yes, I can relate to her “Are you hungry dear?” moments. And like Marie, I believe that all I do for my children comes out of my love for them.

I know some folks think Marie is just plain intrusive. But most moms, whose priority in life is to help their children, will understand where she’s coming from. We moms may sometimes test the patience of a saint, and drive our grown-up children crazy by our seemingly meddlesome ways. But we will courageously carry on regardless, all for the love of our children. Or so we tell ourselves.

The early years

I remember how, when I was young, single and naïve, I used to wrinkle my nose at mothers who were overly involved in the lives of their children. But then I got married and had kids of my own, and soon I knew better. What seemed unpalatable before now seemed like the most natural thing to do. As for the mothers that I had thought of as control freaks earlier, I now saw them as conscientious, responsible and caring parents.

While the kids were growing up, I spent most of my waking hours doing what almost all moms do—cooking, cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, feeding, folding clothes, changing diapers and sheets, picking up stuff, putting the kids to sleep, hauling them out of bed in the morning, teaching, while handling a full-time day job. And what did I do the rest of the time? I worried about my kids.

I pestered the babysitter [and when the kids were older, our neighbours] to find out how the apples of my eye were doing in my absence. I attended every parent-teacher meeting and doled out requests for paying special attention to my sweet angels. I noticed the rolling of eyes my frequent requests elicited, but I ignored them from the goodness of my heart and for the good of my offspring.

We moms may sometimes test the patience of a saint, and drive our grown-up children crazy by our seemingly meddlesome ways

Parenting adolescents

Things were on an even keel until the kids were in school, when I could yell at them, “Shut your mouth and eat what’s on your plate!” and they actually obeyed. Or when their howling got on my nerves and I would scream, “Stop squealing for nothing, or I’ll give you something to really cry about,” and the tears of rage would stop flowing.

The going got tough when they started going to college. As is characteristic of adolescents, now they began trying to educate their parents. It seemed like just yesterday they exhibited insatiable curiosity, and suddenly, they didn’t want to know anything. They stopped asking me questions thinking they already knew all the answers. But that only got my antenna up. What were these smarties doing without my knowledge, I wondered.

Don’t know if the great Einstein flaunted his weirdo hairstyle even as a young man. But if he did, I’m sure his mom constantly bugged him to tone it down, just the way I badgered my children when I detected even a hint of strange tendencies.

 It seemed like just yesterday they exhibited insatiable curiosity, and suddenly, they didn’t want to know anything

Which is why we had some interesting interactions.

What’s that glittering thing on your tongue? Oh, it’s only candy, you haven’t got your tongue pierced? What a relief!;

My dear, you’re going out in that sleeveless dress? In this 20⁰ C weather? Cover up. Why? Because I know when you’re feeling cold;

Son, you’re going to the party like that? Can’t you wear an ironed shirt and proper shoes? And what’s that thing hanging over your collar, tied with a string? It’s the latest fashion? I don’t care, chop it off! You’ll do as I say. What do you mean why? Because Mommy always knows best. That’s why.

Stuff like that. And if we had mobile phones back then, I would have continued from where we had left off by texting them every hour.

When children are no longer kids

Despite our constant battles, it’s so satisfying to know I’ve raised smart kids. That’s why I’m hopeful that when they become parents they’ll understand what made me tick as a young mother, as also what motivates me now as an older parent. And I hope they won’t miss the point while undertaking such mental exercises.

I hope they’ll understand that when I insisted on knowing where and with whom they were going, when I punished them for watching TV during their study time, when I ignored their sulking and demanded they put their toys and clothes back in the proper place, when I let them feel the pain of getting poor grades in school as a result of not studying diligently, it was because I loved them.

The going got tough when they started going to college; now they began trying to educate their parents

I’ve long since loosened the proverbial apron strings. But I still dread having to watch my children live with the consequences of wrong decisions. At the same time, I don’t want to stop them learning from their own mistakes even now.

So yes, it’s still tough being a mom, even in the silver years. The hard part now is doling advice in matters of critical importance despite risking being labelled a meddlesome mom. But I believe, if you love your children, you will take that risk. Of course, it’s their prerogative to accept or reject your suggestions. But it’s still your prerogative to tell your children whatever you want to. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not suggesting you should lecture your adult children about stuff like how to manage their money, their children, and their spouses. If you’re doing that, back off. Double quick.

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Today, I’m focussed on making sure I’m helping, and not meddling. But that doesn’t mean that every once in a way I don’t revert to my old habits. My parting shot to my children during their student days was “Have some fruit after lunch”. Well, though they’re adults now, I still remind them of the same thing over Skype chats nowadays. But no harm done, for I’m sure they’re giving such unnecessary advice the treatment it deserves. After all, like I said before, I’ve raised smart kids.

A version of this article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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  1. It’s the journey from your 3 year old declaring, “Mommy, I don’t need instwuctions to tie my own soolaces”, to your 18 year old saying with her arm around your shoulder, “Don’t worry. I got this.”


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