My daughter is now in her forties, married, mother of a wonderful grandchild for me, and has a great husband. She is in the midst of a career in which she is very successful; it is completely different from mine and I know next to nothing about the field.
Why do I feel driven to give her advice on how to conduct her life? Because I am my parents’ son? Maybe it’s typical of all parents.
Why do I feel that she isn’t in touch as often as I would like? When she doesn’t call back soon after I leave a message or a conversation must be shortened because she is involved in something pressing, why am I a little sad? She is not out of touch; she calls and texts often enough for me to know how she and her family are doing, almost always, its “fine.” (“Fine” is a word that means, in this context, “it’s too complicated to explain to someone not part of my setting and it boils down to the fact that we are all doing well. No big problems.”). I said “fine” too.
I don’t know the answers but I do know the same thing happened between me and my parents at the same stage of my life and their lives.
I’m the one who has to grow up here. My daughter and her family are doing fine; they don’t need me and I’m still needing her and her family. Yet, to whatever degree I can take credit, she is doing and being what I wanted most for her. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. She is a really good “kid” and, she’s my “kid.” By what right do I feel saddened by our current relationship?
The fact is, I don’t know how to be 72. I still want her to depend on me for something, anything, that is especially mine to give her. Don’t ask me what; my career offers nothing for her and otherwise she has many of my characteristics (luckily, she missed out on my looks, she’s beautiful). We even share some eccentricities; I don’t like birds and she doesn’t either. Audubon Societies across the land could demonstrate against us. The list of shared agreement could go on.
My last conversation with my father, the Sunday before he died of a heart attack on Wednesday, he chastised me for not calling home more often (ostensibly, because my mother wanted to stay in closer touch but she was a very outspoken mother who would have told me that herself if she were bothered by it). Fortunately, that was a small part of the call and is not my primary “last memory” of talking to him but I haven’t forgotten it even now.
Now I’m thinking the same thing he was thinking (although not attributing it to her mother) and I think I understand him more than I could have imagined.
Time I learned how to be 72; where’s the “How To” book?
Anybody out there who feels the same way?
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I’ve Become My Parents.”