I recently read the book The Second Journey from Joan Anderson. She is in her 60’s, with adult sons and grandkids, a husband and a second career as an author.
Reading her book, taking in her perspective on her life, was moving in so many ways.
Especially so since her family make up is so similar to mine – raising two sons.
One passage (of many) that inspired me depicts her experience with one of her adult sons during a Christmas visit. Mom visiting her son at his home, with his family. Her adult son says, after a less than ideal exchange about him keeping in touch with her more: “You happen to be one of the few people in the world I can actually disappoint.”
Somewhat harsh, but the underlying meaning is that our kids DO feel the safest with us.
Their tender / raw emotional selves feel the security of our love which means they can really lose it, be nasty, be their most disagreeable and most negative selves knowing full well that it won’t break our bond (as it would with anyone else on Earth).
That’s when love hurts my mom-sistahs
Not gonna lie – It’s hard to feel that kind of love and not lose your damn mind, not become resentful, upset, and hurt.
On one hand, I read this and it was touching. That’s some deep love there.
But on the other hand, I thought “THAT SUCKS!’
I give my love, time, effort, support, patience that I didn’t know I had and care in unmeasurable and infinite ways and THIS is how I get treated?
Conflicting thoughts– but true.
Joan goes on to write another passage impacts me to my core.
“A mother never outgrows her love even for her grown children, yet the intimacy once shared, especially with sons, over time becomes nothing more than simply “hope for loved strangers.”
Ugh. Ouch. Truth.
I see this with the relationship my husband has with his mom.
Of course, it MUST become this way.
Think about it. How inappropriate, weird and on the fringe of criminal would it be to have the same intimacy with your sons as an adult that you do now?
Bath time talks? SO inappropriate.
Heart to heart talks after a difficult day? Those talks should be between your adult child and his/her spouse/partner, shouldn’t it? That’s the kind of partnership/marriage you HOPE they find, right?
Making sure he’s got his work done? Uh…, he’s got to be doing that for himself at this point, right?
And we wouldn’t want it any other way for our adult-aged kids, right? These are signs of a fruitful life being led by a responsible adult, right?
So how can knowing this future reality help me here and now?
How do I enjoy the age-appropriate intimacy now without clinging to it, obsessing over it, helicoptering over it and ultimately suffocating it and ruining it? How do I NOT have the future hinder my connection but enhance it and prepare me and my heart for what lies ahead?
In my opinion, it comes down to thought management. Knowing that ultimately, my sons will become adults who I will love in the same way I do now, but my love will show itself in such a different way down the road from today allows me to be present, enjoy these moments with them, but not lose myself within them.
This understanding of the future allows me to love them, feel gratitude about the present intimate connection I have with them, but ultimately not lose myself within them while helping them step into those “loved strangers” a little bit every day.
It allows me to feel little to no guilt for striving to develop myself and enrich myself while helping my sons with their self-enrichment.
It allows me to not lose myself to the role of “intense motherhood” (the years where are kids are very dependent on us) as this is a small amount of time in my life, as well as theirs. Ultimately, we (my sons and I) will spend a greater percentage of our lives together as adults.
As Joan also reminds us, “Raising a child is the only relationship where, if you do it right, it ends in separation.”
So, I guess I can either choose to be depressed and freak out about what the future holds for my relationship with my sons and my shifting role as mom.
I can choose to let acceptance wash over me, work on being more present and more flexible today and enjoy these current moments uncluttered by present-day stresses that will seem insignificant in the long run.
I think you know which one I’ll choose… which will you?
What perspective do you want to choose for your mindset? Contact me and I can help you with your thought management skills so that you can think what you want, feel what you want, and experience the life you want.