Have you ever been to an old-fashioned taffy pull? Probably not, since people don’t do that much nowadays but my family was once invited to one years ago. It was a lot of fun, but lately when I think about taffy being pulled every which way, I think about parenting my adult kids.
As you wrap up this first day of the work week, I hope you are reviewing your past weekend and that you have some nice memories of good times and/or pure relaxation. I hope you are saying to yourself, ”What an amazing weekend I had!” Mine didn’t quite turn out as I had hoped and planned. It seems that life usually has its own ideas and we must roll with the punches.
I had expected to catch up on writing , reading, grocery shopping and a few phone calls. My husband, a cardiology R.N., had to work all weekend, so it felt like a great time to play catch-up on things that have eluded me, including some craved-for quiet time for myself.
A man named Orlando Aloysius Battista, once said, “The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.” I always thought so when my kids were growing up. There were certainly days when I would have preferred to immerse myself in projects and creative pursuits that were beckoning to me. but I truly believed at that stage of my life, that my kids’ needs came first. I felt that the time I spent with my children was an investment in their futures and that we were making memories for that future. I still enjoy seeing my kids, but my perspective is different now. I consider my personal time to be precious and spending it on myself feels like an investment in me. . I have already invested heavily in my four kids and even though I love them , I believe it is high time that I “diversify”
Inevitably though, when I look forward to a stretch of time to luxuriate in quiet and bask in the joy of choosing to do whatever I wish, one of my kids ends up needing something. It’s not as though I jump at every whimper, but it does feel like crises have a way of occurring in bunches and as my mother once told me, “You never stop being a mother”, so it is difficult to ignore a cry for help when it feels sincere. We do raise our kids with the hope that they will become self-sufficient adults and some of mine are, or some of mine are some of the time anyway.
As long as everything is going smoothly, or they perceive that it is, they seem to manage. Mom is then an invisible commodity to them. The story changes when something explodes (figuratively) at the job, when unexpected bills come pouring in, or when a little one is ill and there is no babysitter. My adult kids are pretty spread out in age. They are all very different and their needs, lifestyles and priorities are pretty disparate. When things are going smoothly, they don’t seem to need my support. That is understandable. In fact, they usually don’t want my opinion or involvement at all. Most of the time that doesn’t phase me as I am a busy person and I prefer not to offer advice that I am pretty certain is going to be ignored anyway. That is not to say I don’t often have some strong opinions, but they do tend to act as though I am a relic from the Ice Age. I normally try to keep my opinions to myself, though this does take self-control and I am not always successful in doing so.
The weekend is over now and the crises have passed, for the moment. I never did catch up on the tasks I wanted to. I never got to take that long soak in the bathtub with a glass of wine nearby and a book that has been beckoning to me from the shelf in the living room. I didn’t really get more than a few minutes to myself, to be honest. I am making plans for the next stretch of time that will be available for me to indulge in some solitude and self-focus, because I know how important it is and that I must never give up on this.
I remember that taffy pull so many years ago. I can still hear the giggles of the children and our warnings not to touch everything with their sticky hands. There were six or seven kids there and at first they were pretty wild and loud. We parents thought that perhaps the activity in which we were engaged was a mistake and that the children were too young. I remember how the taffy was a big messy blob when we began to work on it and how it gradually took shape . Finally we all settled down happily to cocoa, cookies and our finished product–the taffy, which was enjoyed by all.
I do have times when I feel that I am being tugged and pulled every which way and that my life resembles more of a sticky, crazy mess than I had anticipated it would at this stage of the game. I am working on it though.and several times a week, I ask myself, “How would you like your life to look and to feel? What steps, Iris, are you taking, to bring your vision into greater alignment with your reality, without sacrificing your deeply held values of being there for those who are important to you?” (Yes, I talk to myself sometimes!)
It’s all about balance and self-care. These have become buzz words but there is a reason and we need to pay attention to them. I hope you will make it a point to think about that when you feel yourself being pulled in too many directions.