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I Love You but...

I left work early and spent a white-knuckled hour driving up I-95 to get to my sister's house in time for Passover dinner. I walk in the door and...

S: Nice you're here on time...when are you going to get rid of that shirt?

Me: What? I like this shirt

S: it's torn. See. (She points to a millimeter size hole near the hem of a black shirt worn over black pants)

Me: I like this shirt and I didn't ask for your opinion. It would be nice to hear something nice from my family for a change.

S: Well if we don't tell you, who is going to tell you.

Yes that's my family. Not tough love, but critical love. We only destroy your self-esteem because we love you. I don't think my friends or colleagues scrutinize me a tenth of as much my family does. And they don't give up even after you tell them to leave you alone.

Even if you say LEAVE ME ALONE in big capital letters.

My mom will find 10 different ways to pose a grievance if she doesn't push the right button the first 9 times.

For example, my car is somewhat messy. I have some papers and folders from work in the front and children's toys and books in the back. Said by my mother over a period of two weeks or so:

1. You should keep your car neater.

2. What if you need to take someone from work home in this?

3. What will the other mothers think?

4. A valet is going to think badly of you.

5. I can't get into a car this messy.

6. Didn't I raise you better than this?

7. Your child is going to think it's ok to be messy.

8. The other day, someone commented on the state of your car to me and I was embarrassed. She made this up completely.

9. You couldn't sell it like this. I'm not selling my car.

10. You will have an accident and those papers, toys and books are going to hit my grandchild and cause serious damage.

What eventually happens is that I lose my temper, or I give in and do a clean-up knowing that nature will eventually reclaim the land.

I choose to do it differently. After all, aren't there enough people in this world who will criticize. Few but your family really have a responsibility to be accepting and loving. Who is going to say, that's our Aimee, and we love her the way she is, if not your family. It's really nice to have a place you can go and feel safe, where your quirks are accepted. At the very least, your family should ask why you like something, and try to get an understanding about it, before they flat out dismiss it.

Truly, if I really wanted criticism, i could post a picture of myself on YouTube and get tons. From all over the world.

May my daughter always know she is accepted by me, unconditionally. I will criticize, because mothers do need to do that, but I won't jump right to it. If I do disagree with something, I will talk with her about it so at least I can understand her point of view. Then I can determine what action to take.

a) She can't afford a new shirt so I will go with her and buy her a new one she likes.

b) She appreciates imperfections and likes the shirt just the way it is.

c) She didn't notice the hole

d) She is wearing it to bother me and then I am going to criticize it

Unconditional offer null and void if she ever gets a tattoo.