Friday, 2 March 2018

Don't tell mum


I guess it's normal for kids to realise at some point that it's a mistake to tell their parents every detail of their lives. The innocent habit of blurting everything out regardless gives way to a more reserved approach in which you keep certain things to yourself.

You realise that some of the things you do and say are likely to get a hostile or at least chilly response from your uncomprehending parents, and you learn to keep them to yourself or save them for more understanding friends.

I have a long list of things that I've never mentioned to my mother or father (mainly my mother as my father died many years ago) - in some cases things from decades ago that my mother knows nothing about. For example:
  • The times I tried cannabis and LSD
  • The odd instance of petty theft
  • My not-very-orthodox sex life
  • Most of my political views (my mother is very right-wing, as was my father)
  • My presence at gay pride and pro-choice rallies
  • My taste in books, music and films
  • The crummy bedsits I used to live in
  • One or two girlfriends she wouldn't have approved of
I also haven't told her about the trace of prostate cancer. Well, I know she would only worry about it, even though it's pretty insignificant at this point.

The fact that I keep so much to myself is I suppose one reason why we've never been especially close. Closeness is dependent on a fairly open and honest relationship in which you can talk freely to each other. If I have to think twice about everything I'm about to say, that creates a huge barrier between us.

I imagine other people censor themselves with their parents in much the same way, though maybe to a lesser extent that doesn't preclude closeness. I envy those who can talk to their parents without such crushing inhibition.

27 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, many things it is best for parents not to know! Sorry to hear about the prostate cancer trace, hope it will soon be fixed. There are a lot of new treatments coming along (or so I understand) so probably an idea to read up about it too.

Mike said...

It's wise just to keep some things to your self. On the other hand, I related a story to Karen yesterday about a Navy friend, as a joke, lift the money for our wedding rings from my barracks locker in 1972. Apparently, that was the first time she had ever heard about it.

So far as keeping things from parents, it's not very hard with a father that's virtually never been in your life and lives over 1500 miles away. It's also not very hard with a mother who never really grew up until after you had left home [1], who had left you with her parents for five years while she went off doing whatever around a large part of the country, and who, in her later years, never let you into her home, only meeting you at other places when you came to visit [her home was a sad, nasty place the last time I was in it. I can only imagine what it ended up being by the time she passed away.]

[1] Mom was 35 when I left home to join the navy at age 19.

nick said...

Jenny: There's no need for treatment at this stage, as the cancer is tiny and prostate cancer grows very slowly if at all. So at the moment it's just a case of "active surveillance" and regular PSA tests. If the PSA level suddenly shoots up, the next step is probably a biopsy.

nick said...

Mike: I went through a phase with my mum of meeting her in a local pub because my father wouldn't let me in the house. It looks like your parents were pretty inadequate one way or another. They both seem to have been more interested in their own lives than in your life and welfare.

Joanne Noragon said...

When she was quite old I entertained my mom with some tales. She smiled and agreed they were best left out at the time they occurred.

Wisewebwoman said...

I didn't censor do much with my mum who died young, I was only 26. But I've learned so much over the years about true intimacy with others.

For instance recently a close family member mentioned something which would have been utterly shocking to the 40 year old me but I just rolled with it. Thus keeping all doors open.

XO
WWW

nick said...

Joanne: It's good that you were able finally to tell her all those things and she didn't go bananas.

www: I know what you mean about things not being so shocking as you get older. We've heard it all before (well, most of it).

tammy j said...

wow. reading your post and all the comments both yours and commenters I realize even tho I lost both parents very early that I was obviously born lucky.
well. you already know that my dad was strict. but then his own mother had been that same kind of disciplinarian with him. at 17 I didn't balk. and he was gone that same year and when you normally rebel.
my mother then became my best friend and confidant.
we told each other everything both past and present until she died when I was 26. I still feel her loss as a big hole in my life. but such a wonderful friendship! so yes. lucky indeed.

Chuck McConvey said...

Interesting. I was not close to my mother but it was because of things sheb did not tell me. She lied to me about my birth father for yers, including telling me he died 20 years before he actually did. Dunno whatv she was afraidn of but she she bis dead now and so it will never be resolved.

nick said...

Tammy: It's great that you and your mother told each other everything. It must have been a huge loss indeed when she died.

Chuck: Yes, what was she afraid of? Why couldn't she just tell you the truth? I suspect my mother also fudges things for some strange personal reason.

John Gray said...

You went to pride! Way to go xxxxx

John Gray said...

I never told my mother I was gay

CheerfulMonk said...

My mother and I were close because we loved one another and I was supportive of her and a good listener. She wasn't interested in the things that I was passionate about, and after a few, "I wouldn't do that if I were you" or other disapproving sounds, I stopped talking about them and continued going my own path. As I've said before, I was so grateful that I could help nurse her as she was dying. So I disagree that we have to share everything to be close.

kylie said...

I'm pretty certain my mother is single-handedly resurrecting the inquisition and even now when I am almost 47 she will ask invasive questions and expect to have them answered. I am not great at evasion and even worse at straight up lying so it is always very uncomfortable

nick said...

John: I've been to Pride a number of times, including here in Belfast. But my mum no doubt thinks "they should keep it to themselves and not broadcast it".

Jean: Yes, it's possible to be close without a lot of personal sharing. It's good that you and your mother loved each other despite the mutual reserve.

nick said...

Kylie: That sounds awful. Why can't she simply mind her own business? Perhaps you should just tell her she's being too inquisitive and you're not going to answer?

Rummuser said...

Yes, I too was quite reticent with my parents till I was an adult and standing on my own feet. While I never was communicative with my father, I was quite open with my mother about every aspect of my life as she was with me. Towards the end of his life, my father had come to live with me and during that period, many things that were not known to him were made known to him by me as well as my siblings. He was in quite some shock that his children went through such events / experiences and thoughts. it enabled him and one brother and me to resolve some long standing issues and make peace with each other before he died.

nick said...

Ramana: It's good that you had such an open relationship with your mother. And good that you resolved some outstanding issues with your father and brother. Unfortunately I was never on good terms with my father and that hadn't changed when he died.

CheerfulMonk said...

It wasn't mutual reserve --- I was her listening post/emotional outlet and supporter, and earlier she made it possible for me to continue at Stanford after my first year by lending me the money to help with books and room and board. We loved one another deeply and were grateful to have each other.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I've always been somewhat open with my mom, despite our difficulties. But I didn't tell her about a car wreck and friend and I had when we were teens because we'd been drinking. It was probably ten years later that I finally told her.

My sons on the other hand, tell me a lot. My younger son particularly. Not always as it's happening, but pretty quickly after. And they know I'm there for anything they need to talk about. I'm deeply grateful for that.

nick said...

Jean: I didn't mean that you didn't really love each other. Only that you supported each other in a non-effusive way (or so it seems).

Agent: It's great that your kids feel they can talk to you about anything that's bothering them. I could never do that with my parents.

I remember several occasions in my younger days driving people around when I was pretty drunk. I could easily have killed myself and killed my passengers. The casual recklessness of youth....

Polly said...

The trace of prostate cancer, I trust you’re keeping a close eye on that. One day, many years ago, whilst tidying the room of one of my teenage daughters I was tempted to read her journal. I didn’t because if I had and discovered something bad I would have then been in the mother of all dilemmas. There are many things it’s best that parents don’t know about.

Bijoux said...

I was never very close with my parents. I have tried to do better with my own children, but I don't think you have to tell someone everything that's going on in your life to be close to that person. Some topics, such as money and sex life, are usually better kept private.

nick said...

Polly: I'm keeping a very close eye on it. I'm having another PSA test tomorrow. Very wise to have resisted the temptation to read your daughter's journal.

Bijoux: No, you don't have to reveal absolutely everything to be close. But there has to be some sort of deep emotional bond there.

Polly said...

I hope the result is a good one Nick.

nick said...

Polly: So do I. I'll know next Monday.

nick said...

Polly: The PSA result was 0.97, which is amazingly low. So no worries!