Since We Are Older, Are We More Tolerant? by Stacey Honowitz
My experience of becoming a single mother after a divorce is nothing new. After standing in the shower crying wondering “what did I do wrong” and then doing a thorough examination of my thigh span, to see if cellulite drove him away, I decided it was time to stop rehashing every conversation, and forge ahead. Reality check, its sounds like I am so brave, but it has not been that easy. People always assume because you are on television, and tough in court, that you are the same way in your personal life. There is always the hope that after going through this long, emotional process to have a child, the person would stick around. One of the most pressing questions was “who is going to walk the dog”? S0 now, its the three of us (me, my daughter, and the dog), doing our best to as Tim Gunn would say, “make it work.” The question of tolerance is always posed to moms. I am trying to find the answer to this because when I tell women in my office about some of the antics in my house they say “and you stood for that?” I wonder myself why I put up with certain behaviors. I wonder if it’s because I so desperately wanted a baby, and went through such an arduous process that she is “entitled”. I wonder if its because there is no father in the house, and I feel guilty (as if it was my choice) so I let her test me. I wonder if its because she is spoiled by everyone in the family and she is so used to getting her way. I seem to think it is a combination of all. I do feel guilty that there is not a dad, she sees me having to do things in the house and makes comments like, “if dad lived here, he would be fixing that, right”? I mean she is right, how often would I be fixing the toilet if he were living here? Now not to brag, but my daughter does have great verbal skills. I never talked to her like a baby, even when she was an infant. I always told her everything that was going on as I was doing it, “I am changing your diaper, I am giving you a bottle, I am going to the office, in the car, here are my keys.” Because of my job, I told her from early on, “that’s your vagina.” So whether that was instrumental in her skills I don’t know, but needless to say she caught on quick. She would tell me to give her the Balmex because she “was irritated”. I often compare us to the “Gilmore Girls” because I sometimes forget that she is only 3 1/2 years old. She often engages in adult conversation, so along with being my daughter, its like living with a roommate. Is that why I am so tolerant of her bad behavior? Is it because I forget her age, because her words and her concepts are very advanced? Do I tolerate her snarls and her tantrums because I am older, wiser , and more patient? Maybe it’s because I see such horrible cases of abuse and neglect in my job, that the thought of even raising my voice horrifies me. (I do raise my voice, I am not that much of a pushover). I am amused by the fact that my parents, who are very instrumental in her upbringing, informed my that ‘I have created a monster”. Not so original, but I wish you could see them at her beckon call. She sits at the dinner table barking orders, and both of them jump. Sorry, but you are right there with me. So what are the answers, do I put a kid in time out, who tells me she’s done? Do I get crazy at this age when she negotiates with me over something and wins? When I tell her to clean up, she goes into bargaining mode. “If I clean this up, can I download this game.” Amazingly, she has negotiated more, for something she is SUPPOSED to do. She has argued more valid points to me than half the lawyers I come in contact with in court. So again, am I more forgiving because I am older? Do younger moms have more control, take more of a stand?. Do older moms look to justify their weakness by chalking it up to being old? However you want to look at it, I know that I am more tolerant, I do let her get away with things that I shouldn’t, and I might be judged because of it. Believe me, she gets disciplined, but she still does have the upper hand. I guess I am so grateful to have her that she gets away with it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am not afraid to admit that I have probably made some huge mistakes, but we muttle along and get through. I think that’s all we can ask for.