One of the worst fights I ever had with my mother was over me moving out. The fact that I was of age (22), done with college and working meant little, as this wasn’t about whether I “could” move out. Obviously, and legally, I could. It was about the sheer will of my mother against mine and what my parents thought was best (stay at home and save your money and stay away from that boy we don’t like) versus what I wanted (freedom to make my own decisions about my life without a running commentary).
It wasn’t a pretty fight. In fact, it still bothers me to think of it since it involved a level of aggression neither of us enjoyed very much and that didn’t solve anything. I eventually moved out when I got a job offer in Texas, I blew all my money and went into debt and I most certainly kept seeing that terrible boy they wanted me to stay away from.
Sure, my mother was right. But she didn’t get what she wanted in the end. Being right is a hollow victory when your daughter is a 24-year-old divorcee, nearly 10 grand in debt and severely depressed. But, after the dust settled, I told her that this might not have gone that way if she’d been more understanding about me wanting any semblance of freedom when I was a teenager and young adult.
Some people get to test drive adulthood under the supervision of their parents. I was told I could only be an adult if I physically moved out of the state. (At the time, simply moving out of the house, but remaining in the same city, caused that knock-down, drag out fight I loathed.) Any effort to get out and away was met with a glare of “I know better.” And while this worked great when I was small and desired to eat nothing but pizza and ice cream, it’s pretty stifling after age 19.
Plus, I didn’t know how to make decisions for myself for a long time – to disastrous results. And I was that way by design. It’s easy to make the “I know best” argument if you’ve been raised to be wholly dependent on your parents. And while there were some parts about how my parents raised me I wouldn’t change for the world, the part where I would cry until I was blue in the face over how it was unfair for them to expect me to adhere to rules that infantilized me at age 16, 19, 22, 25 and even well into my 30s, is something I’d like to avoid with my own kids one day.
With all this in mind, my mother and I are actually extremely close. As a child, she wasn’t just my mother, but my friend, protector, therapist, doctor, teacher and spiritual guide. I relished in telling her my stories. So much so that when we fought once when I was a kid and I told myself I’d give her the “silent treatment” the next day, I found myself still talking to her the minute she said “good morning.” Because the silent treatment wasn’t just a punishment for my mother. It was a punishment for me. I loved talking to her. Whatever bothered me seemed small in the larger scheme of breakfast chat.