Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What To Pass On Before I Pass On

The other night I was watching one of my favorite television shows, “Grey’s Anatomy.” One of the characters in the episode was a single mother that was dying of some terrible lung malady. She was having a difficult time accepting her fate. So difficult, that she was unwilling to share it with her teenage daughter. Eventually, she gave in and then had to have a talk with her daughter about last-minute advice she wanted to pass on to her. Some of it was heartbreaking and I cried like a baby thinking of myself in her place. However, some of it was kind of funny. She told her daughter that no matter how bulky it felt, she should wear underwear beneath her pantyhose because it looks less slutty. She told her that at her wedding she should only have one glass of champagne because there’s nothing worse than a drunken bride. She also told her to marry a man that loves, not lives with, his mother. (I thought that one was pretty good.)

So this got me thinking: What kernels of advice would I pass on to my children at that fateful moment? I’m sort of the self-declared queen of the inappropriately-timed comment. We’ll be in the middle of a serious family discussion and I’ll suddenly have this intense need to point out that my husband has a crumb on his upper lip. Because of this, I have this terrible feeling that my last words of advice to my kids would be something like: "The dog pooped in the northwest corner of the backyard. Can you pick it up before somebody steps in it?" Really. I have no doubt in my insane ability to make a poignant moment into a “Huh, what?!” kind of moment.

In an attempt to rid myself of any dumb advice I might dispense, (leaving only the really important things to say,) here are some of the nuggets I’d like to pass on to my kids: I’d like to tell my daughter to always carry a tampon in her purse because one day she’ll be wearing white pants and she’ll need it. And if that happens, she should tie her sweater around her waist. I want to tell my son that he should make sure that his fly is closed when he goes on his first job interview but not as he’s walking in the company front door. I want to tell both of them that when they buy their first house, they should always shovel the sidewalks right away after it snows because it shows you’re a good neighbor. I’d suggest that they never press “send” on an angry e-mail composed at work, especially if it’s addressed to their boss. I’d tell them that no matter how awesome the 3-D Collector’s Edition DVD is of their favorite movie, it’s rarely worth the extra cost. I would want them to know that they will never dance worse than when they’ve been drinking too much.

Now that I think about it, there’s nothing really wrong with this advice. It’s not bad, it’s just ill-timed. And even if it’s not useful, in and of itself, it serves an important purpose. It will, someday after I’m gone, make for fabulous stories that my kids will share for years to come.

23 Comments:

At 6:19 PM , Blogger atpanda said...

First, I ADORE Grey's Anatomy. :-)
Also, I think you've come up with some great advice there.
Thank you so much for visiting me today!

 
At 7:36 PM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

I've never seen that show. But, I would hope that I have more time to prepare my final words...hope. If I could only impart one thing though, it would probably be that all things are possible through God.

 
At 10:10 PM , Blogger barbie2be said...

i love grey's. it's my current favorite.

i have a friend that's got breast cancer and what she did was sit down and tape messages to her girls for all of the milestone events (high school grad, 18th/21st birthday, wedding, first baby) that she might miss if she succombs to the beast that is ravaging her body.

 
At 10:11 PM , Blogger Erin said...

I hope I have time to prepare. But more than that, I don't want to leave my kids with nothing.

Here from Michele's today, although I stopped by earlier (sorry, didn't comment :(

 
At 10:23 PM , Blogger Mamacita said...

I think your would-be advice is pretty good. I'm here from Michele's.

 
At 5:41 AM , Blogger Star said...

I like your words of wisdom. Very practical. I would probably over think the whole thing and come up with nothing.Michele sent me today.

 
At 7:20 AM , Blogger Linda said...

that's some good advice. I think I need to follow it, too!

 
At 7:59 AM , Blogger Zephra said...

Glad to see you updated. I love reading your posts and wish you posted more often. Something about the teenage daughter that pulls me in. Maybe because my daughter will be there in a few more years.

 
At 8:13 AM , Anonymous Maryanne said...

I love Grey's Anatomy and got a hoot out of her talk as well, this was also while tears were flowing down my face. I've often thought about writing letters to my kids and putting them in a box for them to open when I'm gone. I thought it would be interesting to have them open letters that expressed an issue or thought at different intervels of their life. Not sure if I'm gonna do it but I'd better make a decision. They are getting bigger by the minute and we never know what's in store for us tomorrow. Great post. Have a good weekend.

 
At 8:27 AM , Blogger Sue said...

Hey Karen, here from Michele today. Grey's is my all time favorite show right now and I found myself thinking the same thing except I have to deal with not having a daughter to impart my nuggets to :) -- but my niece will benefit :)

 
At 11:04 AM , Blogger utenzi said...

Michele sent me, Karen.

Grey is for women--it's too illogical for guys. ;-)

I think it's best for everyone to die in our sleep. Those "last words" type situations are just way too stressful for everyone. Better to just hold your loved one's hand as they slowly fade off.

 
At 11:18 AM , Blogger Amanda said...

I also LOVE Grey's Anatomy. It's the best show on TV in years.

Anyways, I really liked this post. I think that advice passed on to children is important, but it's really the everyday lessons we teach that end up staying with a person in the end.

Here from Michele's

 
At 1:01 PM , Blogger ccap said...

Not here from Michele's. Here 'cause I like reading your stuff. :-) Yeah, I'd be with you on the advice side of things: liable to say "please vacuum the house before the guests arrive to mourn me" or the likes.

 
At 3:57 PM , Blogger vanx said...

But they will definitely dance MORE when they are drunk. If you like Grey's Anatomy, you'd love Frankenstein. Seriously. It's like a beautiful explication of the Adam & Eve story in a lot of ways. Not to disrespect Boris Karloff--let's just say Hollywood took certain liberties.

 
At 10:17 PM , Anonymous Cyndy said...

Great advice and stuff they can use. Michele sent me. Hello.

 
At 6:16 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

I haven't seen that show, nor have children, but if I did, I would like them to be able to hear my words before I left.

 
At 12:36 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Very good advice, Karen, as was the woman's on Grey's Anatomy. I plan to write letters to my kids too, and maybe my gradnkids as well.

 
At 3:56 PM , Blogger WendyWings said...

My mothers nugget of wisdom was "always choose bridesmaids that are uglier then you, that way it makes you look better.
Nice huh LOL
Michele sent me today.

 
At 4:02 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

LOL, LOL! I think this is all VERY good advice, albeit kind od funny, too...but not funny if it's your son's fly that is open as he goes in for his interview! Thanks for your visit Karen...
btw I like "Grey's Anatomy" too...but sometimes I get distracted while it's on...not sure why except that it doesn'y always hold my attention for some reason...Hmmmmm.

 
At 10:03 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Michele sent me back, Karen. I think the advice is still good!

 
At 4:45 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

My brain hurts just thinking about what I'll say. Part of me hopes that much of my message would be wrapped up in something I've written.

Then another part of me hopes I'll have the chance. We never really know how or when it'll happen. I hope in a long time, come to think of it, because there's so much yet left to learn, to share, to say.

You definitely got us thinking. You always do that!

 
At 6:56 AM , Blogger Star said...

Hi Karen. Here again, this time from Michele's blogroll game. I still have no idea what I would say in that situation.

 
At 9:10 AM , Blogger Marisa said...

That episode of Grey's Anatomy reduced me to tears too.

This just made me smile with your sweet and well-thought advice. I am going to heed it as well.

 

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