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    I say that shutting up is hard to do

    Dear Mr. Sedaka,

    You were so right. I know that it's true. Breaking up is hard to do. Especially for teens, when true love seems a fickle, heartbreaking foe.

    I do know how difficult breaking up can be. I've been there, done that. Long, long ago, admittedly one of the billions of boomers who once sang away heartbreak blues crooning along to your catchy, comforting tune.

    I'm decades removed from being a youngster longing for love. And in the years since breakups with beaus broke my heart, I've found something more difficult to do than breaking up, Mr. Sedaka. And that's shutting up.

    Trust me: It's waaaay harder to do than breaking up.

    I'm not talking about shutting up regarding social or personal injustice. No one should stay silent in the face of oppression or offensive -isms of any sort.

    What I'm whining about referring to here is the difficulty of shutting up now that I'm a grandmother, a mother, a wife. The matriarch who — with good intention — metes out hard-earned advice, sincere support, wisdom gained the hard way in hopes of assuaging angst, anxiety, erroneous twists and turns taken on the daily trek of dear ones.

    Those dear ones — my children, my grandchildren, and my partner in the parenting and grandparenting of both, aka my husband — could/would/should benefit so from my shared stories and suggestions.

    Or so I believe. And so I go overboard. Because shutting up so very hard to do.

    Sure, I'm guilty of giving my girls (and guy, now and then) some whoppers of wrong direction and correction. For the most part, though, I think I'm qualified to reasonably respond to a family member reaching out to me because they're frustrated, frightened, furious, or floundering.

    When they do, I can't help but, well, help. Or try to in whatever manner might make a difference. Yet I've learned that my way may not be their way and that much of the time, they don't care to hear my way.

    In light of that, I've gotten better over the years about biting my tongue when it comes to some topics. I (try to) refrain from recommending homework helpers, hints on household chores, the necessity of hobbies and interests of one's own to take the sting out of work woes or maddening moments of motherhood or marriage.

    I steer clear of speaking my mind more than once or twice on particular safety issues such as texting while driving, responding to recalls on products large and small, the dangers of window blinds, bunk bed falls, the absolute need to tether televisions... and top-heavy dressers... and bookcases.

    I limit nagging offering gentle reminders regarding the importance of proper nutrition, exercise, and hundreds of other healthy habits including the necessity of nighttime rituals for satisfactory sleep to those who complain about not feeling well. (Directed at my husband more so than our mutual offspring, I must say.)

    I do understand the adage regarding having two ears versus one mouth and applying relative ratio to time spent listening over speaking. I do shut up on some things.

    On too many other things, though, shutting up goes beyond being hard to do and is downright impossible. The ratio for those seems to be the more distressed a loved one or damaging the road he or she may be traveling, the more my words of wisdom and warning spill forth.

    Flowing and flowing and flowing. For their benefit, I tell myself as I tell them what I would do. What they could do. What they should do.

    When what I should do is simply shut up. Stop advising because, as they've told me far too many times after conversations shut down...

    I just want you to listen!

    I'll figure it out on my own.

    It's different for me.

    I don't need you to fix this.

    This is my problem to solve, not yours.

    That's your way, not mine.

    I know what to do! I just needed to vent.

    I know. I know.

    I know all that.

    I know that it's true.

    But gee-freakin'-whiz, shutting up is so darn hard to do.

    Especially when someone I love with all my heart and soul hurts or has a hard time with kids or coworkers, seasons of struggle with spouses or houses or adulting or any other assorted discomforts this Mama Bear might be able to soothe.

    My incessant soothing sours the situation even more, I'm learning, makes all involved wish I would just shut up. Yet, regardless of my good intentions — and determination to zip my lips and simply listen — I find myself spewing verbally time and again.

    Such spewing leads me to you, Mr. Sedaka. No offense intended, honest. See, I'm writing to request you record just one more jingle as memorable as Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Rather than lyrics for estranged lovers, though, please gear this new one toward grandmothers. Those who would do well to put a sock in it, in particular.

    Any doowop diddy diddy doo related to shutting up will do. An earworm on which I could focus when my loose lips seem on the verge of sinking (relation)ships.

    I look to you, Mr. Sedaka, for another tune to keep me from feeling blue. A confirmation I'm not alone in lamenting that shutting up is hard to do.

    Best regards,

    (a grandma, mom and wife seriously considering surgically implanting a zipper on my lips... so please expedite your reply)

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    Reader Comments (6)

    I've learned to limit my "advice" to something along the lines of "this is what worked for me in that situation," and leave it at that (unless I'm asked for more, of course). But it took a long time to get there, control freak that I can sometimes be! And in my 60s, I'm more easily able to remind myself that so many situations are simply "not my circus, not my monkeys." It can be liberating!

    February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoxanne Jones

    You are soooooo not alone! Hope he comes through with that song!

    February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    I also have a lot of opinions. I do shut up m ore now than I ever did. But still. I can be a bit of a smartypants.

    February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Cassara

    Lisa, I just know any advice/suggestion you offer are helpful and right on target...if only they would listen.....

    February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Lawdanski

    oh boy. I almost dread becoming a grandma because I know they will go crazy if I say anything. ugh.

    February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTam Warner Minton

    Lisa, you are so right about biting your tongue over the advice thing. I've learned (after the teenage years) that you wait for them to ask and then only give small bites of info rather than launching into all those things you've been waiting for the chance to unload! I also liked this Brene Brown video about not saying "at least" because that was one of my favourite cheer-up things that I have to remember to stop doing!

    February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne | crestingthehill
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