How many of you are having issues with your grown children? I don’t mean the kind of issues that involve misbehaving, drug use, partying, flunking out of college, road trips that go nowhere, getting girls pregnant, making a first bad marriage, ending up in a cave in the Canary Islands smoking a lot of dope. Need I say more? I mean the issues that involve being a grown up, an adult, a functioning member of the world wide universe.
It’s come to my attention many times in the last fifteen years that although I raised my two boys to be independent, they are not completely independent emotionally, psychologically, financially – physically they are because they were raised by a mother who belabored healthy eating and exercise. They flew the coop and landed on their feet, maybe a little off balance, but they landed nevertheless. So they are on their own.
Really? Supposed to be …..right. NOT! Oh, yeah, they are on their own in the sense that they are raising their families and running businesses in slumping economic times and don’t want parental interference except when needed and that usually involves emotional or financial support. I’m there for that and anything else. Want a loan? Sure. I’m okay with 4% interest since it matches the interest in my bond portfolio? Okay, you’re my son and that’s cool. I can help out for the next ten years even though it may be possible to make a more healthy percent on my money on the next real estate investment. Don’t be greedy, Mom. I’m hear to be a cheerleader when some snake billionaire wants to high jack my son’s company, dilute all the stockholders (hey, I’m one of those stockholders!), clear the board of directors of all former investors and fire my son. Hey, I’m there! I’m there with calling the bastard names, too. I’m there to take care of the grandkids when called upon, when I’m in town, once every five or six weeks, and to console my daughter in law’s mother in time of marital crisis. Oh, really, that’s the easy part for me because I know all about that marriage dissolution thing and besides I really love her as a friend.
Here’s the deal: we’re all still parents even thought are children are grown and we’ll never get over it! The problems are just bigger, the issues more urgent, the emotional ups and downs more dramatic, the need to be present for our children is more intense, more energetic, and more important.
Raising children is for life. No one told us that. That should be in the first line of the parent manuel: even though your children are grown, you’ll never get over it. Once in awhile I caught glimpse of that with my own parents – well, my mother really because my father was not always present and accounted for later in life. Just before my mother slid into early dementia – or she could have been in early dementia because she didn’t recognize Eleanor Powell dancing with Fred Astire on TMC so her short term memory could have started to fail – she asked me apropos of nothing if I was going to be all right. I’m sitting in a chair across from her – she is sitting in a chair with her legs up on the foot stool facing me- and I had a brain infarction at that moment because I had no idea what she was talking about. Then, figuring out a major theme in her life, I got it. That question was about a man. Her philosophy was a woman always had to have a man on her arm. Was I ever going to get a man again? Was I going to be all right without a man in my life? I answered her with sweetness and a smile. “Of course, Mom. I’m going to be perfectly fine. Not to worry.” “Good,” she said. And then she changed up: “Men are really a lot of trouble anyway.” That was the last coherent exchange we had because the next month that thought would never have leaped out of my mother’s brain. She didn’t even recognize Gene Kelly.
My mom worried about me being single until she forgot how to worry. God! I wish I could forget how to worry. I don’t want to wake up every day with surprises about my boys. It’s enough to get up wondering what surprises are going to come my way. Like maybe I’ll fall in love again and get myself in a whole lot of trouble. My mother would be so happy.