It finally happened. I reached that age when many of the lessons my mom tried to teach me when I was young finally make sense. And I have to give her a lot of credit for so graciously standing by while I failed to learn the lessons for so long, and while I stubbornly, stupidly tried to argue with her about things she knew I’d eventually see her way. I don’t know how she did it. I look back now at some of the tantrums I threw – some of the self-righteous speeches I gave – and I was dead wrong. And she just had to stand there and understand it may be another decade (or several) until I understood just how wrong I had been.
They say being a parent takes patience, but when you hear that, you think about the patience to deal with toddlers drawing on the walls and babies screaming for nothing. You don’t think about the patience it requires to watch your grown children ignore the sound advice you give them, to their detriment, until they just have to learn things the hard way. Some of her lessons I figured out in my twenties. Some are just hitting me now, once I’m married, own a home, and have a career I care about. That’s what it took. Whenever it happens for you, here are things your mom said you’d understand one day, that maybe you finally do.
You can cover up; men will still look
I remember throwing a big sweatshirt over a belly-button-showing tube top so I could sneak out of the house, remove the sweatshirt, and enjoy male attention in my skimpy outfit. Sometimes my mom would catch me. And when she did, she would shake her head and tell me, “You do not even have to dress like that to get male attention. You could wear a giant snowsuit and, so long as it were pink, men would still holler from their cars.” She’d also tell me that one day, I wouldn’t even want male attention – that I’d be sick of it. At the time, I was 14, male attention was new and exciting, and I couldn’t imagine it feeling any other way. Now in my thirties, I’d give anything to be invisible to catcallers.