I like to think I’ve done a good job of raising my children. They are successful, seem happy, are polite and interesting, and have created very attractive lives for themselves. I still believe that one of them is likely to become president of the United States or, at the very least, an astronaut.
I don’t mean to boast, but whether you’re of the nature persuasion or the nurture persuasion…I get some credit either way. Parenting isn’t easy. And, oh my gosh, if you think it’s over when they turn 18 you’re sorely mistaken. It’s never ending! But I’m not complaining. As a mom, I’ve always considered the work and grief and sacrifice of parenting to be a kind of investment.
As businesswoman, I expect a return on my investments.
So when mother’s day rolls around, I’m not shy about cashing in on a bit on that investment. The time is past for the instructional exercise of waiting for my children to remember things like birthdays, anniversaries, and mother’s day…and then chiding them when they forget. As adults, I figure, they’ve either mastered those social niceties or they haven’t. I’m not waiting anymore. I want a nice gift and I want it on time…not five days later with an “oops” card.
So in the case of my own parental investment, that investment has matured. I’m ready to collect regular dividends.
If you’re an investor of the sort I’m describing, I’d like to offer you a tip on how to maximize your return. I call each of my children a few days before Mother’s Day (or my birthday, etcetera) and start with a question, “so what are you doing for Mother’s Day?” The question, of course, is just my way of making sure they remember the event. Then I tell them my plans. “Bill and I will be at brunch until 11, after which I’ll open my gifts on the patio, drink some iced tea, and wait for phone calls.” Then, I offer some clarity about what I’d like those gifts to be: “I’m just hoping for some flowers or a nice throw for the guest bedroom. Or maybe a gold brick, as long as it’s a big one. I’m just kidding…about the flowers.”
They chuckle a little over the kidding, but I don’t. I remain silent for an awkward moment and let the comment about the throw sink in. If I’m talking to Tammy, I don’t have to say anything more. She’s always been the smart one. If I’m talking to one of my sons or to Bill, I add some detail so that I don’t have to return anything, e.g. “…flowers, or one of those herringbone alpaca throws that Brahms/Mount makes. Or a gold brick…” I give them a moment to ask me to repeat it while they fumble for a pen, “An alpaca? What?” See how it works?
I consider this approach to be an important warm-up for that far off day when I will let them know that “no, I will not move into that stupid nursing home” and, “yes, that does mean I’ll be moving in with you...along with the cat and the pot-bellied pig.”
Is it obnoxious? Yes. Do I care? No. Does it work? Yep. I highly recommend it as an advanced parenting strategy if your children are 30+.
Try it. You’ll thank me.