04/11/2007 12:09 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Every Stage in Life Has Its Challenges

Between the ages of 26 and 31, I was in the reproductive phase of life. I was so excited about my ability to create adorable human beings that in five years, we had three daughters: Susan, Janet and Anne. I went from being able to sleep in and to control my life to being sleep deprived and not thinking about myself. In fact, I had stopped thinking about anything but being a mother and a wife.

So here I am, thirty-five years later and I still find that my number one preoccupation is still my children even though I work full-time as a teacher. While I am no longer sleep deprived, and I actually have time to brush my hair, I find that there are still issues that consume me. Life appears to be just one stage after another. Only now I don't have Dr.Spock to guide me. It's not the sleep issues anymore. Now it is the independence vs. the wisdom issue.

The independence /wisdom issue is much more complex: how to be a mother without acting like a mother. That's a real challenge.

Back in the days when they were small, mothers, as I recall, were supposed to take action when there is a perceived problem, but well behaved mothers of adult children, don't. No action, no words, just support in the form of rescue when things go wrong, that is if rescue is requested.

Multiple books exist on this issue. One of the best is Deborah Tannen's book, You're Wearing That? But none of these books have helped. Here is a hypothetical example: If I see a need for change in my daughter's toilet training techniques....considering that I have been through it three times....I would expect to be seen as wise resource. Never.

Ms Tannen explains in her book that there are multiple opportunities for miscommunication. For example, if I suggest buying new towels for my daughter's bathroom it can be taken as an insult (Don't I know how to buy towels for my own bathroom??) or as a helpful suggestion (Wow, Mom is buying me new towels for free). So, as you can see life brings new challenges and excitement with every age. I tell myself it is just a stage and it will pass just like the others. In the meantime, I am grateful that I live in the same city and see them often even if there are the expected challenges to being a mom at every stage.