Nothing in human relationships remains static and that includes mother-child relationships. Just as you and I notice that we are not quite the same as we were years ago, so it is with relationships. They have lives as unique as our own.
Over the course of years there is usually a gradual maturation process in a relationship. We usually don't notice changes all at once. Rather, we find ourselves reflecting on the new aspects that come into our consciousness. Sometimes we know when change is occurring, sometimes not.
Last month I became fully aware of the friendship that I have with my daughter. She had carpal tunnel surgery and I spent the day with her. It was so wonderful having hours together when there was nothing else that we could do, let alone had to do, that I commented on how much I enjoyed the day.
'I'm sorry for the circumstances,' I told her, 'but I've really loved being together today.' She replied quite earnestly that she felt that too and added, 'We'll have to do this on a regular basis.' We laughed as we realized that neither of us wished for another operation to mandate time together.
Natalie and I have always had an intense relationship, sometimes ab-solutely wonderful, sometimes dreadful. It's probably because we are so alike in many ways and so dissimilar in others. It's even more likely due to the fact that we are passionate about our relationship, we love each other and need each other's love in return. It's never been unimportant to either of us. Now, however, as we have both grown up, neither of us assumes anymore that the other is all wrong about anything or all right.
I am fortunate to have a great relationship with my stepsons. I knew them when they were kids but they were all a few years plus or minus 30 when I became their stepmother. We are more friends than parent-child, but there is a special warmth there, perhaps a special bonding that came when we became family, rather than because we became family.
I also have a son and daughter of choice, not that I wouldn't 'choose' any of my kids, because I would. Both Nikki Douglas and Joe Ishmael are special to me and are children of my heart. Nikki has worked with me for 16 years and we have been through almost every life change together. I've known Joe since before he went to the police academy and he has been there for me in many ways over many years. Having these two friends 'adopt' me as their other mother has been affirming as little else can be.
My mother and I have never been closer than we are now. We talk on the phone almost every day, being so many miles apart. She is able to tell me of her sadness over the deaths of so many of the 'girls' she has bowled with all these years as they advance into their 80s and 90s - yes 90s and still bowling! At 84 she is slowing down and tells me about that while I share with her my adventures at work.
She is more dependent on my sister and me now for things like making reservations for her to fly to us and going over what she should discuss with her doctors. Still independent and driving, Mum knows as we know that she needs us now in new ways. I need her also as all of us need our mothers. Who else listens to us with both ears and a full heart?
Sometimes even mother-child relationships go astray. I have one of these, not by my choice. It is the one relationship I believed I could count on 'til my dying day. I was wrong. The child I believed who knew me best, whom I believed I knew best, turned out not to really know me at all. Why these heartaches visit any one of us I do not know. What I do know is that I cannot control it. If there was ever a Let Go and Let God situation in my life, this is it and I've had some pretty big ones.
One thing heartaches teach us is to treasure each relationship today. Don't take any for granted. We can all lose anyone through physical or emotional death. If we really learn our lesson, we'll focus on the treasures we do have and not on those we've lost.
I love you Natalie, Justin, Jeff, Randy, Chris, Nikki and Joe. I love you, Mum (the only one I know for certain who reads everything I write!).
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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