Aug 29, 2020

When I was is in my teens and early 20s and I didn’t feel like I was getting the attention I deserved from my mom, I would say to myself, “After all, I am her only daughter she should _____________”

And I had many ideas of what she should be doing. Taking me to lunch, taking me shopping, handing out money, generally spending more time with me. It was always about me.

When My babies were born, my ideas about my mom became: she should come and stay with me, she should come and help me more often.

For most of our marriage we have lived in a different state than my parents. So when we would go visit we would stay for an extended length of time. Me and my babies would take over the house with all our stuff and with our routines. She worked full time at this point. My should’s sounded like, “She should take time off while I’m here.”

I’ve never written these thoughts down until now. I’m ashamed of all the “shoulds” I threw around like I was superior in my knowledge of how an only daughter should be raised. As if I was the center of the Universe!

My mom and I have always gotten along well. Luckily I didn’t allow these “shoulds” to distance myself from her or be a jerk to her.
I just kept them to myself and felt horrible for the way things “should” be. I felt sadness for what I never had.

What exactly was it that I never had?? She is an angel. She called to talk on the phone. She made me beautiful gifts. She never judged me or told me what to do.

When my oldest was born, the only advice I remember her giving me was “The mother knows best what to do.” She trusted me. She gave me freedom.

She is adored by her grandchildren. She spent time with them, sent cookies, cards, money. She taught some of them to read. Took them shopping on their birthdays, held parties for them, played games with them, made crafts with them. She listens to them and loves them fully.

In May 2018 she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. For more than two years I’ve gone one week out of every month to help her and my Dad, as his health was failing too. In fact, she had been and continued to be his caregiver until Feb 2020 when we had to place him in a Care Center due to his advancing Parkinson’s disease.

By this time the “shoulds” sounded like: She should hire more help, she should stop working so hard, she should know that Dad needs to move to a Care Center.

I also found Life Coaching about this same time. I learned that “shoulds” are for owner’s manuals when you want to know why your refrigerator isn’t working. Shoulds are NOT for people.

I learned I could trust Mom when she said she could still take care of Dad. I could trust that she would tell me when she needed help. I was FREE to then love and accept her exactly as she was.

And a beautiful thing happened: On my monthly visits we went shopping together, got our nails done together, went to movies and lunch. I cut her hair when it began falling out due to chemo. We did projects around the house together, planted flowers in the yard, and ran errands. It happened exactly how and when it was meant to happen.

I choose to take this time with them, not because I should, but because I want to. After all , I am her only daughter.

And she is my only mother.




P.S. I call this list of Shoulds, a “Manual”. Manuals are for new appliances, not people. I can help you see how the Manuals you have for others is the reason you are struggling in your relationships. Schedule a FREE session with me to learn how Coaching could be the answer for you.