My eldest daughter has a difficult conundrum at work. A conundrum that would not have presented in my world at her age. I’m not even sure the right language was there then. She is too young for this dilemma and I too old to know exactly what to say: how can I relate when I know nothing of this particular quandary. It would be patronizing to even try.

This is the first time that this has happened to me. In every other respect I have been able to empathize with my children’s experiences: I failed exams as they sometimes have; I had my heart broken as a girl, several times, so I recognize what the splintering fall out feels like when they tearfully articulate it through sobs and snot and hiccups; I say, ‘I know, darling, I know’ and I mean it. I understand about bad friendships and good ones. I get being broke; I’ve been there too.  And when my daughters fret that they don’t look as beautiful as they’d like to, I feel the sting again when I felt the dumpiest, dreariest at a party. My mother must have told me I looked lovely as I do them; must have meant it as I do now.

So, until my daughter called me last night and said, ‘Mum, there’s this thing … I don’t know if I’m going mad … what do you think’, I always knew what to say.

But her New World presents with experiences my old one never delivered, not in any shape – her dilemma was as far away from my 21 year old world as the internet and smart phones – so for the first time I don’t know what to say.  And that is a difficult thing as a mother; we ought to have the answers. We always used to.

I ponder all night and find myself in hack-mode. If in doubt Google it. So I do the research and plough through opinion pieces and Facebook pages and readers’ comments and small answers are revealed as tiny gems through the soupiness of the ether. If I sieve them out, will that help I wonder?

And then I consider another obstacle. My daughter is full of young-freshly ironed Save The World idealism. Mine is old and crumpled and faded with cynicism. Somehow we must build a bridge across the two to a Happy Medium and perhaps on that island we will find a treasure map that leads to a solution that satisfies us both: her youthful desire to fix all things and mine as a mother to just mend what worries her.

This, I think, this uncertainty, this loss of bearings, must be what defines a parent who is tentatively handing her baby across a generation to the big teethed world of Grown upness.

9 Responses to “Bridges”

  1. sustainablemum Says:

    I suspect this happens to every generation of mothers as the next generation grows up in a very different world. I am sorry that that probably doesn’t help really…………but the very fact that you have realised your own limitations probably means that you will both find a way through and ultimately support your daughter. I am sure there are many women who would not feel they could go to their mothers for support/a listening ear, however helpless you currently feel perhaps wrap yourself up in that for now?

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      that’s it though isnt it; realizing our limitations? you’re right – every new generation of mothers must notice the gaps. Addy, who wasn’t able to post here due to a technical glitch send me this comment and I think she’s spot on – the gap between our generation and our daughters must be cavernous compared with that between our mothers and ours?

      “I can so relate to that. I swear our generation are the first to have children growing up in a world so very different from the one we experienced at the same age. I can remember going on a school trip at 15 to Germany – it seemed like the other side of the moon, but nowadays people nip to Germany for the weekend and travel all over the world to far flung places, once only heard about in books. Internet and mobile phones have changed the world beyond recognition. All you can do is be there for her and help in whatever way you can.”

  2. solwhere Says:

    the fact she asked your for advice is enough to show that you are a great mum. As a teacher I know that I don’t always have the answers and it’s okay not to have the answers…. it just means you have to work together to try and find a solution. Hope all okay? So glad to see more blogs from you – well done!

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      thanks Sol xx i’m glad you don’t always have the answers either – makes me feel better about not knowing what to say

  3. iotamanhattan Says:

    At least she’s asking your advice. That’s the first and biggest thing.

  4. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    I think googling it was a good first step. (Whenever we have some problem with the computer, my husband googles the problem, and somebody, somewhere will have solved it with an obscure fix). And once you have the germ of an answer, your wisdom and experience will add to that, because we all live and learn xx

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      what did our mothers do?! without Google? to provide that first kernal? my mum was always very good at referring to books to look for answers. you’re right; we all live and learn and long may we continue to do so. i’m a huge believer that you stop learning, you stop living. xx

  5. nuttycow Says:

    I find that there’s a world of difference between my experiences and my mothers. As a result, there’s a variety of opinions on the way forward. However, I still ask for advice because, in most cases, it’s important to get different viewpoints before coming to a decision. Don’t downplay your experiences and assessments – they are always welcome!

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