Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Mother You Used to Know

My Middle Son and I sat down and had a heart-to-heart chat the other day. You know what they say about the truth? They are right. It hurts.

I walked away from that chat feeling a little bit wounded. I have let the scratches heal on their own. I haven't scratched, picked or made anything bleed anew. I simply applied a little 'antiseptic' (talking with a friend who knows me better than I know myself heals my soul) and I am back.

The words that hurt me? "You aren't the mom I used to know. You used to worry about these things (money, retirement planning, the future). You used to care about these things (about the paint that is chipping off the corners of our walls, the broken window in the garage, the caulking that needs to be replaced in the bathtub). You used to be independent and relied upon no one but yourself (before I had my son, his girlfriend and their two dogs move in with me four and a half years ago).

He has a word for what he thinks that I am. Depressed.

Well my son, I have sat back and absorbed, felt and processed your words for several days and this is what I have come up with: "No. I am no longer the mother you used to know. I am better."

Why am I better when I no longer worry or care and I depend upon another adult being from time to time? Because I have figured out the great mystery of life. It all works out in the end (and ... if it hasn't worked out, it is not yet the end).

I no longer worry, sit and fret about all the ifs, ands or buts in life. Life happens. It is a waste of energy to sit and fret about that-which-has-not-yet-happened.

Life happens.

I have spent the better part of my life budgeting, planning and worrying about my financial future. As the sole provider of my family, I guess that is part of the job description. Those were the days where I said, "I can afford to retire and I can afford to die. I just can't afford to live." They were the most restrictive years of my life.

I started spending and started to live. It was the answer to all that ailed me. What is the sense in having a retirement plan and money to fund it if you spend all the years leading up to those golden years stressed to the max? From what I have seen, too much unrelieved stress (often) leads to illness. I am not going to be one of those statistics. If I die young, I want to know that I lived my best life while I was living and breathing. If I live forever, I want to build an interesting and fulfilling life and strive to continue to be interested and fulfilled as the years go on. This means good things for you, my son. Because I am not barking at you for not conserving power/heat/water, rent and replacing casserole dishes. It's only money. I am much more concerned that we come out of the other side of this living arrangement and still like each other.

I used to care about too many little things. I used to clean the house from top to bottom with the mantra "If I die tomorrow, I don't want anyone to think I'm a slob". I used to get angry when anyone messed up my clean house. Do you know what, my son? You could not live with the old me because I would have created such a scene when the dogs started destroying that-which-was-good-enough. I would have flipped out each and every time you messed up 'my kitchen'. I would rant about the dog hair, the dishes, the extra dirt, the back entrance .... Not only would you not want to live here any longer, our relationship would suffer, I would walk around with a chip on my shoulder and let my anger define me. Instead? I look at that-which-drives-me-crazy and I say "I don't care ... I don't care ... I simply don't care anymore ... It just. Doesn't. Matter!" It is saving my sanity. And yours.

I spent the first 31 years of my adult life wishing that I could depend on someone. But I couldn't. It all boiled down to me-taking-care-of-myself. And my children. Certainly, I did not do this entirely on my own. I had back-up to help relieve some of the pressure from time to time. But the little things? Mowing the grass, shovelling snow, general house and car maintenance and all the little things it takes to run a family? It was mine. It was all mine. All of the time. Then you moved back home. And you picked up my slack. And I loved it!! I relaxed for the first time in (what felt like) forever and enjoyed the sensation of having someone share the load with me. Did I come to expect more and appreciate less? Guilty as charged. I did. I admit it. Sorry. Did this happen in and around the same time that your anticipated move date kept moving into the distant future? I would guess that there may be a correlation. That is no excuse. But please accept it as part of the reason that I am no longer vying for the title of Independent Woman of the House. Been there, done that. Will do it again.

Am I depressed? No more than you or anyone else on the street. Do you sense something is off when I sequester myself to the back corner of the house to recharge myself and then you go and read one of my (many) blogs which may depict a depressed stated of mind and then add it to all of the above? Maybe.

I am not perfect. I used to try to be. That person used to be your mother. I wore myself out and beat myself up and kept trying and trying but I never attained the height that I had set for myself. I have evolved to the stage of my life where I am happy to simply be 'enough'.

I worry enough to get that-which-needs-to-be-done, done. I care enough to get through the day and fulfil the parts of me/life that need filling up the most. I am independent enough to know that I can lean a little bit and still be self reliant. I feel enough to empathize with you when you are feeling 'life' strongly.

Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, ebbs and flows. I used to expect more out of life, out of myself and out of you. I have let all of us off the hook and I am content and relaxed enough to just go with the flow and trust that it will all work out in the end.

Who did you think I used to be, My Son? The perfect person that I wanted to be (but never was)? I know that you used to be proud of the way I rolled with life's challenges and was resilient to that-which-was-hard. I roll a little differently these days. The life of hard knocks has given me a bit of a reprieve lately and I haven't had to come up fighting. I am content living the 'easy' life. I am glad that you are a part of that life.

It is challenging for one and all when adult children move back home. We have weathered many storms and I know we will weather this one as well. I just hope that we all remember all that we have learned during this time. Because you just never know when I'll be moving in with you!

I may not be the mother that you used to know. I'm a little softer around the edges. I am more pliable. I am a little more relaxed. I trust that you and I are both exactly who and where we are meant to be right now (but let's hope that it isn't forever, okay??).

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