Write of Passage

Willett's Baltimore Transitions / Expressions

Willett .

Willett .
Baltimore, Maryland,
June 15
Write of Passage, Inc.
Willett Thomas is the President of Write of Passage, Inc., a 501(C)(3) communications, training, and publishing organization formed in 2010 to assist underserved artists and writers. She is also a freelance writer, writing in and about Baltimore. She recently relocated to the neighborhood of Greenmount, where the exterior shots of the HBO series, The Wire were filmed. She's pleased to report any rumored resemblances to the television series are greatly exaggerated. *** Like us at Facebook ;-) http://www.facebook.com/WriteofPassage

Editor’s Pick
MAY 21, 2010 9:33AM

I need my mother to be my mother, not my friend

Rate: 26 Flag

Life as I know it has come to an endMy mother requested that I “friend” her.  This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Sure, I’ve heard the tales: adult children of parents in their 70s and beyond, guilted into “friending” their parents, only to be mortified when those same parents begin to freely weigh in on everything they’ve worked so hard in life to exclude them from. These once self-described technophobes, now hunting and pecking at breakneck speeds to be first to comment on the photo of their friend/child’s embarrassing limbo attempt, “Shake it until you break it, honey!  You’ve got my moves down.” These formerly wizen authority figures -- people who under no other circumstance would you associate with -- now liking you like crazy and harassing you with pillow fight requests.

But this wasn’t me. My mother was Mormon. She didn’t hold for all this computering business (except for email). I even wrote these very same words on my wall.  “Happy Birthday,” I typed, or some such greeting “to my mom who doesn’t believe in all this computering OSer and Mother back in the daybusiness, except for email,” though I knew she’d never see it.  I wrote this with no hesitation because knowing my mother, I knew she wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out on Facebook.  But now, with this call for friendship hovering out there in FB request pending land, not only was I a non churchgoing heathen, but it seems with her inclusion into Facebook’s highly selective universal family, I can also now be tagged a liar.

The thought that my mother, the woman who signs all her cards Mom, not Love, Mom, but simply Mom, had willingly joined the ranks of those who readily and thoroughly catalogue every thought, impulse, those acted on and those merely mulled over ad nauseam, just didn’t seem right. The same electronically challenged Mormon mother who refuses to get caller id, and prefers to simply call people back when a call is missed to ask, “So, you called?”  I mean, sure Mormon’s hardly Amish, but this person only checks email once a week – as a rule.

Now every time I think to post a flippant status update, that offhand remark I’d have no problem blurting out to a real friend at 3am, while devouring cold lasagna and downing Bacardi & Cokes, now I must ask myself if I really want to be subjected to “How in the world could you say that, girl? I’d never say that.” And course she wouldn’t.  Mormons don’t announce to their friends, “Eighteen months a counting, not climbing the walls yet, but wouldn’t mind climbing…”  They don’t update their profile page with celebratory pics of themselves in a two piece it took three months and fifty sit ups mornings and evenings to sport, with a big cheesy grin, saying “How ya, like me now?! ;-)”  

No, I don’t think I want to live in a world where my mother is my friend. For a mother that I would gladly hand over a kidney, lob off a lobe of lung, excise a section of liver, as hard as it is to do, I feel I must at this time ignore her friend request.  Really, it’s for the best.  If I don’t, who knows what this friendship thing may lead her to do next: blogging, tweeting, signing Love, Mom?

Update:  I accepted my mother’s friend request.  Status update for 2010 and beyond: All is well. 

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I think you capture the complexity and ambiguity of this sort of thing very well.
This was great. OMG, it sounds nightmarish to me to get a friend request from a mother. I need to see my mother from pre internet times if not the stone ages
. I would call my mother and say, " What the hell are you doing on Facebook. Get off NOW. This is sick." I love the way your wrote about this unique dilemma.
@fernsy -- I actually called my brother to ask if it could actually be our mother, and not some impostor! Every time I go to post something, I go, shoot, I'll be hearing about this the rest of my life.
Sounds like it would definitely cramp your style. Rated for looking at this complicated issue.
Makes me glad my patents have gone to that great "Wi-Fi Cafe" in the sky! Well done, Willett. Well done indeed. D
Oooopps! I meant "parents" of course. My "patents" are still pending!
@Yarn Over -- How dyslexic am I? I read it as parents! Thanks for the kind words!
This is a new problem, and well stated. As a mom of adult sons and nieces, it is indeed a bit awkward. But we learn to open up a bit and accept a bit more and learn things, from both sides, that we never otherwise would. It's part of the 21st century, I guess. I as sometimes as embarrassed about my sons reading about me as they are about me reading about them.
Im a friend with my daughter on facebook and it is a little awkward. So far so good tho. My other daughter has an account but hates all kinds of cyber stuff. I do have some young friends of theirs who friend me and I try to be low key and just observe so they will forget about me listening and I can get all the good news. So far so good. Thank you for a thoughtful post of a modern age problem. I think your mom sounds way cool.
@zanelle -- My mother is crazy cool, and a real hoot.
You caved! aaacckkkk. That photo is priceless and it says everything anyone wants to know about how we related to our mothers sometimes. My mother is too frugal to pay for DSL, so I'm safe for now but it made me wonder how my daughter must feel about me being out there in her FB world ...
You told this so well, and I love the picture.
My 18 year old daughter is adamant that we are not facebook friends. And I agree with a resounding AMEN! We are very close, but some worlds just should never collide! _r
@GabbyAbby -- I like this picture because it tells the story of me and my mother so well. My mom saying, "If you'd only listen..." With me going, "I am listening, sorta."
LOL! readwillett, I would be your worst nightmare. When I sent my son a friend request the phone rang within seconds of his receiving it. "Mom, um, what, um, how, um why are you on Facebook and why did you say you are single?" His solution? He high-tailed it to Twitter, which I hate.
I solved this by not joining FaceSpace . . . so far, so good . . .
This is perfect, and describes the situation so well. My husband's mother is on FB and has friended both of us. We call her a status hijacker because she comments and "likes" every single thing he posts. My mother, on the other hand, is afraid of facebook, which is a good thing. :)
@Lisa K. -- My mom doesn't post anything. She just peeps. Then I get the call, "Why in the world would you..." You know the rest.
This is a wonderfully written and very enjoyable article. Thanks for sharing this with us!
As a mom, I'm glad my kids decided to friend me! But, of course, I think I am cool and 'with it'! I have NOT asked the children to confirm it, though.
Yes, a dilemma. Hope it works out for you and you feel like you still have your own space. R.
There's something J Edgar Hoover-ish about Facebook. I won't join yet. Funny post though. I wonder how long before Mom writes ROTFL or some such thing.
Just one of many reasons I thank God daily that my mother can't turn a computer ON.
My parents are both gone so I've never had to suffer the pain of "friending" or "de-friending" them on Facebook, but I have a lot of friends who have been through this hell.

One of my friends who is in the Charm City Roller Girls, got into a huge fight over some of her derby pictures and comments from derby friends. She de-friended her own mother and was wracked with guilt over it.

I am friends with my nieces and I have to turn off my "aunt" mode with them at times and remember they are both adults who are entitled to make their own decisions. And I have no say in their lives unless I see real harm coming to them. It's hard, though!
@Kat -- Relationships are hard. I've spent my whole life wanting to be liked and understood by my mother, I'd just prefer not to have to go this route.
My mother died 7 years ago and I still wouldn't friend her now. (Well, I would now...but.)

Loved this, especially "....gladly hand over a kidney, lob off a lobe of lung, excise a section of liver, as hard as it is to do..."
"all is well"? That almost sounds like you're about ready to break into a stirring chorus of Come Come Ye Saints :)
@Arizona Viking -- Just trying to stay on mom's good side.
This is fun and scary at the same time. Whenever my 88-year-old mom says something like, "People tell us we should be on Facebook. We don't need to be on Facebook, do we?" I say, "Oh, no, Mom, you wouldn't like it at all. It's a sinkhole. A waste of time." Which of course it is but I still like my privacy!
Yeah that could be weird!
Great writing. And being the mother of this equation I have the same problem, I am reluctant to post things that would get raised eyebrows from my daughter and the throngs of folks on facebook. That's why I got this blog.
By the way, I think Baltimore is a lovely city.
I came kicking and screaming to B'more six months ago; it's turning out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Great place if you love the weird, wacky and the unexpected. Great if you love hearing people's stories.
My daughter friended me so whewww relief,I can peak into her life a little.If my mom friended me ? Not sure what I would do ,probably what you did......no big deal unless we create a big deal.Good for you.Great writing as always.
I tried to friend my daughter on FB and she told me that her generation has a pact no exclude my generation so they can talk about things they don't want us to know about. In my family, my generation is much more computer savvy than my daughter's generation.
Last week, after realizing she'd sent me a text that was meant for my brother, my 78 year-old, iPhone-having mom signed off with "My bad." You've reminded me of what I know is coming next. Great post.
@Sankofa -- I knew my life would never be the same when my mom started say "Don't even go there."
My father has a Facebook account now. I have refused to friend him. My brother did and is regretting it. Our father doesn't actually seem to understand anything he reads on Facebook. My brother friended a distant relative in another state. Dad sees this in his newsfeed: "Your son and female distant relative are now friends." His interpretation of this--my brother and this woman are dating and my brother has at some point traveled to another state to see her without telling anyone. Or there was the time when my brother added his job info because he never had. Dad sees this "Your son changed his job information" in his news feed. Dad's conclusion: my brother got a new job and told no one.

No way in hell am I friending him!!
@amyrose -- So funny, so sad. Why? Because it's all so true.
Great topic. Not to be contrarian, but I'm glad you did befriend your mom. Maybe that's cause my daughter friended me and we both agree that FAcebook is not the place to say much.

But I think only because she finds FB a bit boring and yet posts mainly photos, it's working out fine, as I only go there to see how she is, comment very little. It helps in one way: If your kid is traveling, you can locate her in time/space.

That said, I am VERY careful in not responding to her. But this is kinda kewl: She befriended lots of my friends, and four or five of her friends befriended yo. Honored but never do say much which is very lucky for our relation. great subject, and photo. R
I love this.

It's so true how our parents slowly morph from Constant Observer and Critic of Our Every Act to Passive Observer of Edited Portions of Our Lives... Losing all control over what our parents see in our lives can seem horrifying. Is it possible that the parents aren't fully aware that as we grow, individuate, and separate from them, we also edit what we show them? Or is it this awareness that makes them want to get all computery and connect as your Friend?
@Drewonimo -- My mom doesn't want to be my friend; she just wants to know I'm not out there disgracing the family name. So far, so good.
Blessings on you! Love the way you have told the tale!
Great post! Funny and thoughtful. Your mom, by the way, reminds me in that picture of the mother of one of my best friends, growing up back in Cuba. Of all of us, he had the prettiest mom.
@Felix -- Thanks my mom is great. I wouldn't trade her for anything.