Never has a more true statement been spoken, or written, in the case of J.D. Salinger. The quote can actually be found in Catcher in the Rye, a book that although required reading when I was in high school, may now be banned from most school libraries. Scholars argue that the quote in context refers to the fact that in general, mothers love their children so much that they sometimes fail to see their children for who they really are. Is this true?
When I think of that final statement, I think of the mom who insists her son loves baseball even though he cries every time he’s at bat. Yet, I think it can go much deeper–especially as your kids get older. There was a moment on my journey of motherhood when I realized that my daughter was not me. She didn’t need the same things I needed when I was a teenager. She didn’t necessarily like the same things I liked. Regardless of how many times I tried to fit her into the “Patti Smith” mold of teen years (seriously, my maiden name was ‘Smith’–I’m not just trying to hide my true pre-marriage identity), it never seemed to work.
And, we were both miserable. She was miserable because she kept thinking she was disappointing me for not being more like me and I was miserable because I thought being more like me would make her happy and content–after all, that’s how I felt when I was younger (or at least that’s how I remembered I felt until I found my teen angst-filled journals).
During that time, I believe I really was insane. After all, Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And, as mothers, don’t we do that a lot? We do it with the little things such as repeating the mantra “Pick up the wet towels in the bathroom after you shower” to the big things like thinking your daughter wants to be just like you when she grows up.
It is sometimes a hard parenting pill to swallow when you give up the illusion and deal with the reality. Which is why Salinger is right, mothers are all slightly insane.