Growing Up By Trial and Error

Ah, Dear Children,

When I judge someone, it comes back to bite me. Very quickly I will probably do the thing that I was judging, or something similar. This has been especially true with parenting. I’ve had some growing to do. A story…

The mid-to-late 1990’s were difficult years for me. My career was all-consuming, my grandchildren were the lights of my life, and my aging parents were becoming ever more dependent. Even before my sister was diagnosed with cancer, my world was a whirling globe of stress. I shuttled around the state by car, by plane, by any means necessary to accomplish everything I had set out for myself – which was a lot.

My memories of one trip north stick with me because I didn’t really live up to who I thought I should be. I was tied by telephone to my office and pressing business. My sister was ill and I wanted to spend time with her. Two healthy sisters, who offered joy and camaraderie, lived within a few miles . And Mother was living in a nearby retirement center and craved my company. Whew! In retrospect, no wonder I was crazed.

The upshot: I didn’t spend the proper amount of time with Mom. I justified my behavior by any means possible although I recognized her sadness when I would leave. She wanted so badly to go with me when I would visit my healthy sisters and conversely, I needed the rejuvenating time to be alone with them.  As I raced around the city trying to fulfill all of my chosen commitments, I fumed, “You’s think she would be happy that her daughters were enjoying each other.”

Those words, of course have come back to haunt me.

They have rung in my ears when you visit with each other. They have bounced from the walls when you take trips together or go off in groups to laugh and talk. Because sometimes it’s difficult to be an observer rather than a participant. It’s hard to remember that kids have entirely different conversations when their parents leave the room. It’s a journey to comprehend the contrast between being current and being a part of the action.

This probably sounds petty to you. You would have expected me to get it. You may even be thinking, “Jeez, Mom!”

And you are absolutely right. Still, it is another step in the process of parenting, another step in letting go with joy.

The return gift has been the wonderful maternal glow from the many times as I have watched you all from the sidelines. From laughing while you pushed and shoved and rolled with delight as toddlers to watching you walk the slack line in Wyoming, I have cherished the knowledge that you love and enjoy each other.

That’s how I know that I’ve truly grown up. Because when I hear about your Skype conversations together I am filled with nothing but great joy. When I hear snippets of those hours spent gabbling and laughing and teasing as only siblings can do, it gives me pleasure that I can’t describe.

Oh, I would still like to be a fly on the wall sometimes… (That may be all my mother wanted, too.)



  1. My siblings live too far away for me to ever having to think about what you did. I have one son and his lovely wife living with me. I would rather be left to my devices than go with them to their various events as I simply cannot be comfortable in crowds any more. The occasional dinner or lunch out or having guests over for a meal is all that I am able to take any more. Non family matters also do play their part and I am rapidly disconnecting myself from those too. I don’t know, if it is a process of detaching myself for spiritual progress, but that is the way I feel and act now.


    • Perhaps we all become more inward as we grow older. For most of us at some point, the journey outward takes more energy than we are willing to expend. I am still quite active in my social and volunteer life, but have always needed much time for reflection.


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