Images My brother has a saying, although probably universal, “you
give what you get.”  It is simple
and states the obvious.  Time and
time again, I have been hit straight between the eyes with the simple reality
that being a parent is the hardest job ever…and it never ends.  The role certainly changes over time
but it essentially lasts forever. 
If you are a parent, you will always be a parent and that particular
role, although malleable, essentially remains the same.  It isn’t about you, it is about your

The more time I spend on the phone or bbm’ing with our
oldest daughter Jessica, it is me asking the questions and listening to
her.  She is relatively interested
in my life but essentially it is me listening about her life, her ideas, her
thoughts, her friends, etc.  Why
wouldn’t it be?  It was the
relationship that was created from the get-go.  I will always be her Mom and I will always be the person for
her to bounce ideas off of knowing that I will be positive yet honest at the
same time.  I want to hear about
everything because she is our kid. 
I adore her…I adore them all. 
I hope that I will be that person to lean on forever.  Will I find myself ever leaning on
them…not so sure about that one because the relationship we set up from the
very beginning is that we are their support system, we are there for them, we
are their rock, their foundation, their guidance.  Doesn’t mean that we don’t involve every one of them in
endless conversations about the world today or businesses that we are invested
in because we trust their opinions and observations but we are listening to
them more than they might be listening to us. 

Each kid is so different.  Different needs, different desires, different aspirations,
different personalities, different anxieties, different everything.  Going through their teenage years are
not easy.  Personally, I have put
myself in a position where I am playing in so many sandboxes these days that it
is overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time.  Regardless, all of the stuff I have going on, from moving to
businesses to everything I do is minor compared to the job as a Mom.  That takes first place and will always
take first place because their happiness, their ideas, their interests and what
they are doing, in the end, is what makes me happy.  Although certainly exhausting and at times concerning…am I
giving the right advice, am I doing the right thing, will they embrace me ten
years from now are the thoughts that frequently ramble through my brain…in the
end, it is truly one of the dearest things to my heart, and it is all about
them and probably always will be and that absolutely works for me. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. paramendra… Sorry this link is not related to this post (which I am about to read and comment on) but this was my reply to Shana saying something about you, so.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks for sharing that. I would have never seen it.

  2. paramendra

    Bbm’ing? This is why I am philosophically opposed to any use of short form language. IRL is in real life? Give me a break.:-)I hear your son is into soccer. That is the only thing I am into. If I get the USV job I have applied for (…, maybe I will get to know him at some point, and I will try and get some soccer off of your chest. :-)I have zero experience in parenting. But I hear when the kids reach a certain age they become more like friends. At that point they will dig into your blog archives. So keep blogging. What they will not listen to now, say to the world! :-)This is a powerful post. Frankly I am surprised how frank your talk is. If I am ever lucky enough to become a parent – I am sure, at some point – this could be a blog to read often. Although I am already a more regular visitor than I used to be. Slowly but surely.

    1. Gotham Gal

      They do become friends but you are always the parent.Thanks for the comments.

      1. paramendra

        Expect more comments down the line. 🙂

  3. ellen

    You are so right. At Jessica’s age that is perfectly normal but what about if Jessica was 40 and you were sick? I know she would show interest and time towards you.I was brought up and expected to be there for my relatives as they aged and their worlds got smaller. It wasn’t about me anymore. They needed me. I am experiencing the same teenage behavior in my husband’s children. It is only about them and their lives. They show absolutely no interest in my husband. One would call on his way home once in awhile but the call would get dropped 5 times so it was ridiculous. He was far too busy to sit in one place for 5 minutes to communicate. At this point it is easier just not to expect anything. I call them selfish and too self absorbed to even think to make a phone call not on the run. My husband has had a number of tests and x rays and they do not even call to find out any of the results. Funny how they have plenty of time for everything else in the world.I can handle the caregiving but I am totally fed up with their attitudes.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I would hope Jessica would show interest and time towards me but you neverknow. I hope that we are building solid relationship foundations with ourkids for the shift into adulthood but perhaps even at that stage they willstill want it to be all about them. Everyone carries their own baggage fromchildhood, I certainly do and that influences my relationship with myparents. Family is not easy. You don’t pick them, they come with thepackage. To me, it all comes down to “you get what you give”. Giving toone person is different than another but to me when it is all about them andnothing about you, it is hard to continue to feign interest because therelationship is essentially one-sided.

  4. ellen

    very insightful. You only have one set of parents and no matter what happened growing up as we all have our stories, there is a time to forgive and forget. When you are 40, you can’t keep blaming your parents for things you think that they should have done differently. It is time to take some of your own responsibility for your own choices in life. Sometimes you have to let go of the anger and have some real humanity and kindness.

    1. Gotham Gal

      True, true. Relationships are two-sided no matter what. You can givehumanity and kindness at many different levels…it still comes down to “youget what you give”.

  5. Rebecca

    (I’m 43) and this post makes me feel like calling my mother and asking and LISTENING to what is going on with her life.I get to see it from both sides, as I have a 21 and a 15 year old in my life.The process of individuation is fascinating.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Absolutely fascinating.

  6. Emeri Gent [Em]

    The one thing I know from experience as a parent is not to treat a child as a piece of property but as an individual in their own right and moreover as the first line of humanity beyond which there is increasing plethora of humanity. I have lots of kids in my home so the web of relationship multiplies accordingly and that is the one thing I enjoy most about my life, becoming deeply aware how one extra person (because that is what every child is) adds and can extend the degree and complexity of this internetworked web of relationship. It is why I write this because this is the only real “me time” I get and once my computer is shut, I head into an entire ecosystem of relationships.I know that without due regard for children as people, the child will turn to someone else for this guidance and while this is not a battle for their attention, it is a daily battle of acquired wisdom and what is a parent ultimately but a continuous learner and one that becomes smarter in the sum of each day, parenting is the extension of the marriage vow, for it is accomplished in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer and most of all to love and cherish. It is not our children that are our gifts but waking up to each new day and being with people who are the stuff of life, people that will serve to make us also (that entity called a parent) a better person. The parent therefore IMHO is the chief creator of people and the person that we refer to as a “child” is a contribution of and to humanity. Indeed parents sometimes can be the weakest link in the public education system especially those who become a part of a system that is still designed to be a sausage factory for the industrial age. Yet those parents who conform to this external parent called our education system are still not guaranteed to get a return on investment, because they have forgotten the importance of receiving a return on difference. Of course we want our kids to be safe and successful but they are not ROI, they are mainly going to make a difference to others in the world because it is we who made a difference to them. If our education system is allowed to work a teacher also makes a difference.It is then here when we become guides to this emergent energy of a person that we call “the child”, that no matter what difficulty confronts us, life does become a joy rather than a drama. Yet it is so difficult to shake ourselves from the label of parent and free ourselves from our own ego and our own cognitive designs. Our chief role as I see it is as a witness to the creation of a human being, not as poetry but as practical wisdom. When we focus on what other parents do, we can introduce mechanical method into the relationship and we may take our eyes of the central information provider for this creation of wisdom, for that person or group of people are the ones living and not simply growing in front of our eyes. That is why I think I am glad I never received a handbook on parenting. Of course such a handbook is helpful if our life must fit a sausage factory and we have been educated to think that life will always be like so, it is our children who change the language but it is people who children are.And of course others should take what I write with a pinch of salt, for I am merely reflecting on something that changes in the minute I have written it, for today is always a new day. If I am capable of such a change then I have learned something.[Em]

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks for jumping in on this topic. I agree that for today is always a newday. We are always changing as is our relationships with our children. Asthey get older, the relationship becomes more of a friend yet the parent iswell, always the parent. As my friend said last night as we were discussingthis topic, during those teen years, parents know nothing until the kidneeds advice on something. An ever changing fluid relationship.

      1. Emeri Gent [Em]

        Well said on the last sentence, parenting is a capability to deal with what emerges.Traditionally the relationship between a child and parent was viewed as a whole life cycle, where the cycle of life was about a parent caring for their child in youth and a child caring for the parent in old age. Of course we live in an ownership society or economic model where such a life cycle is disrupted by the condition of making a living.I feel so bad when I go to an old people’s home and see so many elders counting time to death. I wonder at that point where the idea of “it takes a village” disappeared. There is no need to put a guilt trip on people when the economic model dictates that life is based on what you do for a living rather than what you do to make a life, but that is the same industrial age thinking I find to be so damningly perverse.This economic model contains a thoughtlessness about the human condition equally viewed in how society contributes to health care costs. We are the one’s who accumulate this cost and then we wonder why the cost of living demands we base a life on what we do, not who we are.A majority chunk of healthcare costs are behavioural – that means if we change from short-term thinking to long-term thinking, we have a solution. Unfortunately it is a solution always out of reach until we as a society yield leaders who lead for tomorrow and not simply for the short-term.So yes, much of parenting is what emerges but there are aspects which emerge as a total life cycle which is mostly our failure to think about tomorrow. The fact that global warming awoke us to our environmental impact is simply a beginning of this learning.This learning involves truth and I appreciated reading Seth Godin’s book “All Marketers Are Liars” because on page 3 he spells out that we as a society prefer myth over truth, that great marketing fills this need for storytelling but equally Godin is clear that as a society we don’t want to hear truth that cuts to near to our own bone.Whatever my trip is, I don’t want it to be someone else’s trip but I can’t help looking decades ahead, my thoughts in this regard resonate with the way Robert Grudin would view time. I like to think that there is something more important than knowing that a parent is always a parent, that elders are always elders.My kids do run circles around me and now most of them are in the teens and I welcome my inability to keep up with them, so what emerges in my life is mostly humility and knowing that as learners of life, that everybody has the capacity to teaches us something, so long as we are not hung up on our own glorious opinion.I am fortunate, I spent a decade working from home, I saw my kids grew up but why am I fortunate, why isn’t there a more nobler way for all to live life for all and not channel life into a segmentation scheme?The best part of being a parent for me is recognize our own stupidity for not realizing our own truths that little object of awareness that was always in front of our own nose until we learned by circumstance or in partnership to see it – it is rather pointless to live life in quotations and life can be baked into a book or into literary brilliance.You have expressed a wise sentiment, we don’t know our own capability until it is tested and we must not assume we know the capability of another, for there is so much we can be, so why not busy ourselves discovering it and being it.Thanks for providing a space via Disqus for me to think, but I too know that many paragraphs or words don’t make a life, it is good to think about our thinking but it’s also Sunday too :-)[Em]

        1. Gotham Gal

          I love that you gave such an intense well thought out comment. That is oneof the many things I love about blogging.

          1. Emeri Gent [Em]

            Thank You Joanne.The beauty of a long comments is that I can deconstruct it and the beauty of writing a short pithy one is that I can meditate on it. The tweeting aphorisms of Nicholas Taleb works for me because Nicholas has said that writes for himself. John Lennon’s music works for me because Lennon said that his songs stemmed through the experiences of his own life and what was important to him.Lennon’s best example of this is “In My Life”…I also write to move with life and these words are my footprints that I have the choice to retrace backwards. Dynamic blogging is creative, linear blogging is IMHO a momentary or transient experience.The best footprints we leave are our own, for they serve as personal milestones so long as we keep a record of this as a journey. Deconstruction and meditation then are not simply what we have thought but a pathway of our own journey.The day I will really love comments is when people learn to write horizontal, to go across various blogs rather than simply vertically down. Vertical for me equals Creative Community but Horizontal is Creative Discovery. Each serves a great purpose whether horizontal or vertical.If thoughtfulness is viewed as a practice and parenting considered as a form of tending then what we log on the web we can weave into the web of our own relationships. Blogging is a web log but parenting is a web relationship.Thoughtfulness can purify our heart and if we have a purer heart then what is parenthood at its best but the intelligent application of our heart beat. I am not here to transform blogging but I have this certain way which motivates me to try new things for I learn when they don’t work out but also improve when they do. Clever people call thinking about our thinking as metacognition, but it is also OK to call it blogging :-)Of course words can also get in the way of our journey, so put a finishing touch on my comments at your fine virtual home, it calls for a song about silence especially since music stirs the imagination to what parenthood should be :Delirium – Silence…With Regards[Em]

  7. TanyaMonteiro

    Parenting? ‘you give what you get’……my question for god is still ‘why’s it so easy to have kids?’ the hardest job in the world hands down!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Nice one Tanya

  8. kgellman

    I love this post and everything you said holds true in my parenting style. I am their foundation and I am always available to give 110% of myself. I don’t think I knew this going into parenthood as I was young and naive. I knew it would be hard but not completely selfless. But I don’t regret a second of it. Parenthood is challenging but incredibly rewarding… Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Selfless is a good word for having success in parenting

      1. kgellman

        Yes, it is. RT Selfless is a good word for having success in parenting

        1. Gotham Gal

          What is crazy is that we all know that RT = retweet

  9. Tereza

    My relationship with my mom sounds, from a distance, similar to yours with Jessica.She was my best friend and we talked about everything. Mostly me talking about everything, and she listening and supporting me unconditionally. But she’d always be there to give me the straight scoop. It was like, unconditional love + high expectations + freedom. It was an amazing combination.My girls are too young for me to really know what the full arc of my parenting style is. I hope when all is said and done it’ll be like my mom.But if there’s one observation I’d give, having had an awesome mom, and then not having her anymore, is that a mom is uniquely wired, biologically, to love each of her children unconditionally.Every person needs and deserves that unconditional love, for whatever time they can have it. It is fundamental to who we become and the people we then choose to be. And in the moment that it’s no longer there, you become a different person, and it’s very clear what you don’t have anymore. At that moment, you have to own it yourself.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Agree completely about unconditional love particularly when it comes to Momsin regards to their children. Not so sure it always works sounconditionally the other way around where there is much more room forfrustration but that is the thing about families…you don’t get to pickthem, they just come with your package.

      1. Tereza

        Agree with that unconditional love in the other direction. You try really hard, you have some luck. If you get it, you are blessed.It also may not come to you when you want or need it!

      2. Tereza

        meant to say, it may come…but not at the moment you were really hankering for it.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Agree with both comments actually.

  10. JinalShah

    My mom lives in India and while she can Skype and chat online, technology hasn’t empowered her enough to be able to express herself with such abandon.If she could communicate her ideas, thoughts and beliefs on being a mother as lucidly as you, my mother too would be able to preserve forever in writing her love for us. But my mother is limited in her capacity to express her feelings and emotions, primarily because of language but more so, because of habit.How much I’d love to have her legacy of sorts published, as a keepsake for selfish reasons. And I wonder how liberating my mom would feel to be able to express her emotions, frustrations, loneliness and happiness.Memories are good too 🙂 But I envy your children. Someday, they are going to be glad you captured all your thoughts and dreams. I wish I could get to know my mom this well.Sorry – it’s Mothers day soon and your post made me miss her. Thank you for writing.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks for sharing. Generations are tough but lack of communication is even tougher