I have a new role but the script hasn’t been delivered yet.
My husband and I are now the parents of grown children in crisis. This is new to us. Oh, we’ve had our share of job losses, accidents, recalcitrant children, surgeries, and relationship traumas; but we haven’t had those gut-wrenching, stress inducing, life threatening worries that come eventually to all families.
Within the same span of time, I have been doing in-depth analysis (commonly known as soul searching) about my role as a parent to children who are older that I think I am. Who needs me? Who wants me to butt out? Who is not aware that I am on this earth most days of the week? Is my cultivation of a life of my own a blessing to my grown children or abandonment?
I feel a bit as if I’m waiting in the wings, uncertain of how and where I should play my part. Nothing has really prepared me for this.
My parental role models were diverse.
My husband’s parents were afraid to talk to their children when troubles arose. I was horrified when they wanted to relay a message through my husband and I when their son’s daughter was killed. How could they not have picked up the phone? I get it now. They were immobilized by sorrow and a fear of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
My dad was different. When there was any crisis, from a head cold to a boating accident, he called at least three times each day. I think I appreciated his concern but was overwhelmed with what to say and how to respond other than to repeat what I had said two hours earlier. And he wasn’t my first line of comfort. I looked more to my husband, my sisters, my kids, and my friends; according to the problem.
And my Mom was pretty self-absorbed. When she surfaced from her own head, she was concerned, but came up with some fairly bizarre solutions.
Now I understand all of them, but that doesn’t help me. It doesn’t define my role. I’m not a lot different from parents; my children in crisis live in the front of my mind and deep in my heart at all times. I want to give them what they need. I just don’t know what that is.
My love and intention is always clear to me and not always clear to others. So I’m not sure whether to follow my instincts or improvise on what they want and need. Contact is good, but then…
How can I draw a decisive line through the blurry area between stating my opinion and giving advice; between being available and being in the way; between support and interference? I don’t know.
My identity crisis in this act is not as great as our family crisis, but my lines are important to me. I want to get them right. I want to be a cushion to stress and exhaustion. I was to listen without judgment and offer help without strings or expectations. I want stand by in a way that shows my confidence in the decisions being made.
I don’t need to star in this reality show called life. Well, on second thought, I’d love to rewrite myself as a magical Mother who knows exactly what to do and what to say at the moment it’s needed.