The subject of giving advice is old and cliched.
Nagging moms and moms-in-law are reminded to “keep their mouths shut and pockets open.” We’re told that the kids know what to do. They have to make their own mistakes. And if we know what is good for us and our relationships with our adult kids, we had better learn that lesson. Fast.
Truth is, we moms of adult kids do want to be silent —even when we see things that are going around us that are really wrong.We know that others don’t appreciate our input. We get that.
But it’s hard for us. We have lots to offer and we kind of want to share what we know.
Several weeks ago, around the time that I’ve been writing about this holding-your-tongue topic on my website for mothers-in-law, as well as on my grandmother blog – I attended a professional women’s networking meeting. At this evening affair which was held in a lovely restaurant, each person had 45 seconds to present what she offered in her business. Most of us kept to the 45 seconds. A few had to be reminded (including this writer) that the time was up via the moderator’s gentle tingling of a glass.
However, there was one person who did things differently. I don’t know how long she spoke, but she went on and on….perhaps for up to 3 minutes or more. The tinkling of the glass, the glazed eyes of the attendees did not deter her. She was determined to add just one more thing. And after her rambling, she finally looked around and asked, “whoops – did I go over my time?”
As someone who has a tendency to talk a lot, I took notice of those glazed eyes of the attendees. I saw how the longer the woman spoke, the less people listened. And I realized that that could have been me (had I not practiced my blurb in front of my husband beforehand!). I was then convinced that less is really more.
Which leads me to believe that as I grow up into midlife and beyond, maybe I can be less concerned about how I look, how I sound, and about invisibility in midlife. About having a voice.
I know I have a voice. I write, I have friends, I share. People hear me.
But do I need to repeat myself? Do I need to lecture? To drive my points home? To preach to my daughters-in-law, to my adult children, to my friends? I wonder.
When I’m at a class or lecture and there is a Q & A afterwards, must I raise my hand and offer something so that the moderator calls on me?
When I get into my 80’s and 90’s and beyond (hopefully!) in good health, will I be overly concerned about the invisibility that sometimes happens to those who age? Will I feel competitive with the youthful generation who seem to have center stage?
Or will I celebrate that everyone has her time?
Will I be the listening kind? The kind who is silent…the kind who has opinions to share, but shares them sparingly and when asked? The type who is succinct and kind and is more interested in others than in myself?
I sure hope so. Then again I’m still in my 50’s….lots of time to practice being silent in my interactions with my lovely sons and daughters-in-law, and others.
We all have our turns to tune in. Let’s tune in to others so they don’t tune out to us.
Read more from Miriam Hendeles on her blog, Bubby Joys and Oys