Adult children and the moms who love them … these relationships can be challenging, exasperating and beyond bewildering at times! Speaking as one who experiences life from both perspectives, I have come to understand no matter how old I am, I remain always my mother’s daughter. She does not know how to un-mother me just because I have attained adulthood.On the other hand, there are times when I’m inclined to mother my mother. As she gets older, she is ever more frail, so I tend to be solicitous – she hates that! She has this incredibly strong will that rejects offers of help, even when needed. For example, she has one of those Lifeline medical alerts (the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” people) but we had difficulty convincing her to actually wear it. (I think she may have believed wearing it was an admission of weakness.)
There’s such a delicate balance required. Because she’s almost completely blind (but tries to prepare meals whenever I visit), I tend to be cautious about what I eat. She doesn’t notice when food from the refrigerator has spoiled. She can’t always tell when a dish has been over- or undercooked. Usually when I visit, we go out for meals. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but foods – though lovingly prepared by her hands – are slightly suspect. Her attempts to prove the same level of proficiency she once demonstrated aren’t unappreciated, but they are so unnecessary.
Like most moms, my mom wants to prove she’s “still got it.” Even though she’s 88 years old, no one should think for a moment she’s going to stop being the mom she’s always been for her kids! She can host a three-ring circus in her home and still have dinner on the table by 6 pm! Anything less would seem (to her) unmotherly.
Truthfully, I am exactly the same. I don’t know how to un-mother the four children who were first nestled beneath my heart. My inclination is – perhaps will always be? – to swoop in at any moment where there appears to be difficulty and attempt to right their world. Car problems? Use mine for the week. House painting and/or repairs? Let us help out! (These are a few examples. The list could go on and on.)
Today, I talked by phone with one of my daughters as well as to one son-in-law and one daughter-in-law. In each conversation, I recall a specific point where my inclination was to extend a ready hand of help. In a virtual way (through the phone lines), I reached toward each of them but then slowly eased back on the impulse.
I’ve been contemplating how easy and natural it is (as moms) to assume we’re the ultimate answer to all of our adult children’s wants and needs. We’re not! The impulse of wanting to help is quite natural. We love our children so we are disposed to help them where we think they need help. When it’s in our power to help, why wouldn’t we?
When I was a young mom, I never aspired to be a SuperMom … I prayed for simple competence at the task! But somewhere over the last decade (with all my children having flown from the nest), it seems I have unknowingly donned a cape and have begun viewing myself as SUPER-MOM! How exactly did that happen? And why?
I’ve begun to understand my efforts at trying to be SUPER-MOM are a misstep … just as my mom’s blindness has allowed her to serve spoiled food. My intentions are good, but the end result is like moldy fruit – unappetizing.
If I (as a mom) am always seeking to alleviate the adult bumps and bruises (similar to the childhood bumps and bruises I once eased), will my children ever learn to navigate those bumps and bruises for themselves? More to the point, will they ever learn to develop a dependency on God if I keep standing in His way?
I hereby reject the trap of Super-Mommery! Wish me success!