Since the passing of my mother in May of this year, I’ve been thinking how I could have handled things differently. I’m probably not alone. Those “what if” thoughts and “I wish I could do that over again” are more common than we all think. I could hang on to regret and sorrow, but what would that accomplish? Nothing. What’s done is done and over; right? I hang on to grudges with a fury, but hanging on took a lot of energy and kept me in a dark place.
Why am I writing about this subject? For me, time no longer stands still, it’s racing ahead at an all time high. Maybe it’s because I’m older. The younger version of me never worried about time. I thought I had all the time in the world. I’m 65, and if I’m lucky, I could live to the ripe old age of 80. Well, maybe.
How many life after 65’ers are still married? I’m not. It’s kind of scary being single at 65. I am the breadwinner and responsible for the welfare of a disabled son. There are many nights I lay awake wondering what my future holds, and a thousand scenarios run through my mind. I know I have no control. I don’t. It boils down to having faith in God. Yes, I said it, God. That almighty supreme being; Elohim, Adonai, Yahweh, so many names He is known by, depending upon your belief.
So what’s the conversation that prompted this post? My daughter and I were discussing family dynamics and personal growth. How did I learn? It wasn’t easy. My daughter didn’t speak to me for a year. I placed the blame on her father. But there are three sides to a story, the lie, the blame and then the truth. We are not born to be perfect parents. There isn’t a handbook. And even though marriage vows are “til death due you part”, marriages don’t always last.
When our children are born, we are tasked with the responsibility to care and nurture, to provide for their material needs and to love them unconditionally. Many parents struggle with the “unconditional” part of love, especially when one parent hates the other, and the vicious cycle of who can hate and hurt the other more ensues. Our children are caught in the middle not wanting to pick a side for fear it will alienate one parent or the other. This is the environment my children grew up in, each parent besting the other.
I can’t go back and undo the past, I can only move forward, building new relationships and forming new bonds and interests with my adult children. As parents, we should own our mistakes and address them, if necessary, with our children. I love watching my daughter interact with my grandson, especially when she has to discipline him. It isn’t funny, but I can’t help but smile when she puts on her “mad face”. I think she can relate to me more as a mother now because she has the same worries I did when I was her age.
Despite the chaos in their young lives, my children are successful and did not succumb to defeat but rose above the chaos. Most children who didn’t survive the chaos and are unhappy, bitter adults. There’s not much a parent can do about it other than look for the lights to go on. When they do, that’s the time to have a very frank discussion and clear the air. We all want to be happy in our golden years and enjoy our children. After all, why did we decide to have kids in the first place?