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As Mom Ages, There’s a Shift

56. As Mom Ages, There’s a Shift

An interesting phenomenon has been happening in my family over the last seven or eight years, just around the time I turned seventy. There are two parts to it.

The first part is location—where are you, Mom. Early in this period of time, I was out at a meeting and came home about 10:30pm to hear the phone ringing in my condo. I answered it and it was my son saying, “Where have you been?” I thought about saying “Out” but instead said, “I was at a meeting.” He said, “This late?”

I now live with one of my daughters in an attached apartment to the house but even here, if I don’t answer the phone, then the other kids call her with the question, “Where’s Mom?”

The second part is responsibility. In my apartment my daughter Donna came in and found me on a step stool, adjusting a curtain or something and said, “What are you doing? Let me do it. If you fell and broke something David would never let me hear the end of it.”

A year ago in a trip to Missouri for a family reunion I found the other side of that in that I was riding back and forth to the reunion site with David. He had rented a hatch-back large enough for him and his family, but when I joined them one of the teenage and older kids had to sit in the back. Each day, I would say, “Let me sit in the back.” He would always refuse but the last day I was heading to the car and Kurt had the keys and I said, “Quick open the car and I’ll get in the back.” I did that and watched with glee as David walked toward the car and saw me. My glee disappeared as I saw him shaking his head in the negative. I moved (rather than be removed bodily from the back) and as we drove off with me in the front seat and David driving, I said, “You know I can ride in the back. I fit.” He said, “Mom, if we had an accident and you got hurt, I’d never hear the end of it from Donna.” So far this responsibility thing has spread to Dara too. The only one I haven’t heard it from is Debra.

The shift part is that when they were young, I did both things—I wanted to know where they were, and I wanted to protect them from danger. And now that has shifted to them wanting to know where I am, and wanting to protect me from danger.

What I’ve learned is that the kids love me and are concerned about me, and what I’m trying to teach them is that I’m old and at the same time take care of myself, stay active, and that they are not after all responsible.

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