How many times have you wanted to say those words and stopped yourself because you didn’t want to get punched in the face? Or even if you didn’t get punched, you were the receiver of a scowl that would wilt daisies? Yes – it is one of those phrases that is always best thought and not spoken – no matter how satisfying it would be to say it!
I think mothers have a particularly hard time with this one – mainly because we have so many opportunities! Our children and our spouses are constantly asking our advice – when all they really want is affirmation of their plans to do something really stupid. You know the kind of things which cause us to respond in such ways as – you will get hurt if you do that, you will flunk your class if you don’t do it this way, people will laugh at you if you leave the house dressed that way. Inevitably we are right – and then they are surprised by the outcome and come to us for consolation. It is at this point that we have to swallow our self-righteousness and ‘heal the hurt” – but all the while, we are thinking in the back of our minds – If only… If only they had listened to me in the first place. If only they had paid attention to me. If only they weren’t so darn stubborn!
Mothers also have to keep our “I told you so” to ourselves when good things happen – because our children and spouses like to think that the good decisions are their very own ideas and no one (especially Mom) gave them that most excellent idea. These are usually along the lines of advice about love, career or school. Sometimes fashion will be on this list – but it is extremely rare, as we mothers are notorious for having no fashion sense – we want pants pulled up, no swear words on t-shirts and cleavage covered – so we apparently know nothing! Anyway – when children and spouses begrudgingly take our advice and things turn out well – they aren’t astonished as they were when they ignored our advice – but they do seem to develop amnesia concerning the fact that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the right decision. Once again, as mothers, we swallow that urge to congratulate ourselves and spend time making sure our children/spouse take most (if not all) of the credit for a job well done.
Mothers are not immune from being hearing “I told you so” from their loved ones – and they take an almost unnatural delight in saying it. Maybe because we are so rarely wrong and so they don’t get to say it very often – or maybe it is a right of passage. I like to view it as a right of passage (mainly because I am never wrong – okay, some days I am a little delusional, but that’s all!). Children – and yes, spouses too – need to exert their independence and prove that they can handle life without my help or interference – and I have no problem with that – gives me more time to spend doing the things I want to do – like sleep.
So – the next time you have that urge to say “I don’t like to say I told you so, but…” – don’t – it’s much better that way – for everyone!