At some point along the way, I must have grown up. Maybe it was when I became a parent myself, or perhaps it was my age or experience in the workforce. Whatever it was, I just came to the realization that while my mom is a smart, successful business woman, she needs some good, ol’ fashioned parenting advice from time to time.
My mom has owned her stationery/invitation business outside of Chicago for 35 years. Through economic downturns and the invention of email and electronic invitations, she has managed to stay afloat with a core customer base that loves her. Her customers respect her and go to her boutique store for everything between a wedding save-the-date and their child’s Bar Mitzvah and birthday invitations. I worked at her store back in high school and felt knowledgeable as the “boss’s daughter” and heir to the stationery throne.
But after college, my plans took me to New York City where I did not pursue a career in the printing business, or have any intention of taking over hers. But I still hear about her issues at work, whether with a stubborn customer or a careless employee. I usually keep my mouth shut, but sometimes, I have to intervene and let her know that while I am not an expert in stationery or invitations, I am a somewhat successful business woman and know a thing or two about business.
Which leads me to her latest email, which she received from a sales rep selling some sort of product/service to her (and no doubt lots of other businesses in her area). She asked for my feedback and I told her that while she probably should pass on it, maybe it would be worth at least a phone call to find out more. Then, she emailed her response to who she thought was the sales rep but turned out to be me, which was a stroke of luck considering this is what the email said (word-for-word):
“’Am out of town on biz and returning tomorrow with a cold and a big work issue to deal with. Would be happy to talk to you but wonder roughly what type of on estment would this entail on my part? I prob cannot play in the same league as your other clients but aporeciate your interest and will be happy to talk soon. Thanks !’ Sent from my iPhone”
I was appalled that my mom (who advises her customers on etiquette and proper spelling/punctuation for invitations) would send this type of unprofessional response to anyone, let alone someone trying to do business with her! All of the sudden, I found myself being the parent and reprimanding her for sending that email, full of typos and unnecessary information, to someone who she thought wasn’t me. And it hit me that now I’M the one parenting my own mom and giving HER advice? That same mom who counseled me after many a breakup, gave me career advice and offered her wisdom during my own parenting challenges?
I realized that while our roles had, indeed, been reversed, they would probably continue to change back and forth in the coming years, whether I call her to ask for parenting advice or she requests my business advice. It’s a nice change and one that I hope will last as my own kids get older and wiser, and hopefully someone will remind me of that when I think I know best (but don't)!
Have you ever had to parent your parent? Share your story here!