Now that I'm a mother, I find myself repeating some of the same rules I rebelled against as a child. Although her rules didn't make sense to me 20 and 30 years ago, they do now. Sleep-away camp? Dishes and cleaning the bathroom? Household chores? Arguing with my brother? I'm seeing the wisdom in her mothering and without a second thought, I apply the same standards to my own children. When I read Amy Chua's "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" I had to laugh as everyone else around the country was in an uproar about her strict parenting. My mother was her own breed of tiger mom, and I wish I had the energy level to be one, so Chua's book helped me realize I wasn't the only one mothered or mothering with those "strict" ideals.
There are certain things our mothers did that we can now, as adults, still feel the impact. When I was in the 4th grade, I went to friend's house and saw that she had a piano. It was the most amazing thing to me - that she actually had a piano in her house and she knew how to play it. I went home and told my mother about it and asked her if I could get one, too. (I fell straight into a tiger Mother's trap.) At 10 years old, I didn't know I had just set myself up for years of weekly lessons and daily practice. I wasn't a great piano player, but I did fairly well, playing at recitals and church. It was obvious, however, that this wasn't going to be any type of career for me. My mother told me that when I became a mother, I would appreciate knowing how to play the piano. I could play for my children and play to relax when I'd had a long day. Yeah, sure - wasn't really thinking about that in high school when I quit taking lessons.
I now have a piano in my living room. And I play it whenever I can. I'm still not that great, but it is relaxing and I enjoy it, with my missed keys and wrong notes. When I'm sad or tired, I play. When I'm happy, I play. When I'm giddy that I have a free spare moments, I play. I have piles of music to fit my moods. Sometimes I play at night, after my children have gone to bed. One morning my son said to me "I like hearing you play the piano before I go to sleep."
Thank you, mommy. For everything.