Do you know any teenage girl who wants to ask her mother for advice? I have known a few, but I was not one of them.

I was a private person. It was difficult to open myself up to people my own age. Why would I ask my mother anything about clothes, friendships, boys (you’ve got to be kidding) or anything that had to do with the “real world” (think: my self-centered world)? She was 20 years older than I was! She had no clue about anything important. She just took care of the family – a father and three daughters.

I conveniently ignored the fact that my father and my sisters and I were always dressed in the latest fashion; my mother was always stylishly dressed, and the house was spic and span with three meals a day, ready on time. If any family members had a problem, they always ended up around my mother’s kitchen table where problems were discussed and softened. Our childhood friends were always welcome, and we were safely transported anywhere we needed to go.

But those things weren’t important. She had to do those things; she was the mother. But real-life stuff? Uh-uh. No way she understood the important things. My mother couldn’t answer any of MY questions. How could she understand what I was going through? (Now, at 69, I’ve figured out that what I was “going through” wasn’t much of anything.)

My decisions in my early adult years led me on a path away from my mother and the rest of my family. So I continued not asking my mother much of anything. It wasn’t until I became a mother that my perceptions started to change. Now it became important to get back in touch with my family. Life was a bit of a struggle, and it took me a while, but I finally moved back to Maine. I was now close to my family and could ask my mother any question at any time. I could visit and talk to her whenever I wanted, and my mother became a person with insight and humor instead of just my mother.

My family lost my mother to cancer in late spring. I am so thankful I had a chance to make up for some of those times I didn’t ask my mother for advice. I wish I had gotten wiser, sooner.

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