I can‘t stop parenting.
My friends tell stories of how they “zipped their lips“ when they had the Perfect Solution for their adult child’s dilemma. I try to follow their lead. I surround myself with parents who have “moved on.” This reminds me of a book in the ‘60s called “Let’s Be Popular!”. We all read it. It talked about things like surrounding yourself with people you wanted to be like. With a sixties twist. You know, popular people.
This book predated the self help book that changed the world : “The Road Less Traveled.”
Before The Road Less Traveled, a teacher told me, we all just tried to figure out how to get to Heaven. But when the 70s launched the self help book, we all suddenly wanted to excel at….everything.
We worked so hard on this stuff. Us Boomers. No way we were going to be like our Dads - off drinking martinis at night working on the ad campaign. We were going to BE there for our kids. No WAY we would be our Moms - agreeing with our Dads constantly and handing our kids books like Let’s Be Popular. We were going to work AND be there. Everyone self helped their way through.
But I wasn't good with self help books. Oh, I bought them. Every parenting book that came out and preached the opposite of the book before. But I usually only got to about the third chapter. I was too tired at night to read. Or the next book came out and someone recommended it…so why finish the one I was on?
There is, apparently, an arc to parenting. I read that in a chapter two somewhere.
And just like we moved from What to Expect When Expecting to what to Expect in the First Three Years…I was supposed to be moving along that arc. But instead? I keep blurting out stuff.
All three of my boys, I mean adult children, are looking for a job as I write. I ask to proof their resumes, I tell them to get haircuts for the interview, I see job openings and forward them on.
Did you get my text yesterday? With the link…?
Wait. What? Oh yeah, Mom, I haven’t opened that yet….”
Did you call back and see if they needed anyone?
Wait. What? Oh yeah. I will Mom.
Did you hear that Costco has the happiest employees on the planet? (I may have exaggerated that article.)
I begin to wonder why every response I ever get begins with “what?”.
I try to move on. I purchase an older adult self help book. Dr. Amen’s Memory Rescue.
I get three chapters in and quit. Dr. Amen wants me to avoid alcohol and sweets. The only reason I make it to Chapter 3 is because I can’t believe it and I hope for some sort of disclaimer. He mentions one glass of red wine on special occasions. I assume he wouldn't agree with my idea of a special occasion, like…making dinner?
The boys, I mean the men, come over for dinner.
“Wash your hands!” Chris calls out as they walk through the door. He can’t stop either. He is very direct and doesn't care about arcs.
But I become sneaky. Rory is going to the doctor - our doctor that we have had for years - for the first time and I want to make sure he is on time. Rory is 26. I am a sick nut. So I text him right before I think he should start driving to the appointment.
Oh! Forgot to give you Dr. Downe‘s phone number!”
I get a “wait.…what? Ok…just jumping in car to go.”
I call Shane and ask “what’s up?” a couple hours before he is due at home to let in a service repair man.
“What? Mom.” He says, “you’re passive aggressive. You are calling to see if I remember the repair man.”
My arc looks like a highway cloverleaf system in LA.
Two months ago, Rory got in a car accident. I was called to the scene. Had to walk by his totaled car. Turned my head from the blood everywhere and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other in order to get to the ambulance that I was directed to by the fireman.
Walking by your son’s smashed, bloody car can send your arc into a U turn.
Later, we sat in the hospital for hours as Rory asked a million plus one times “Why are we here?” The worst of his injuries being a terrible concussion.
You got in a car accident, Rory.
“Was it my fault?” He repeatedly asked us.
No. You went through a green light and someone decided to make a left turn into you.
He was bruised, nose bleeding, back muscles contorted into sailor’s knots, and badly, badly concussed.
When we got the all clear to leave, he limped out, confused. And said “wow, if this is what aging feels like - I really feel bad for you old people.”
We paused. We said “Wait. What?” And then laughed, tears of relief forming as we walked out of that hospital with our “baby.”
But Rory is right. That is what we are. Old people who can’t stop parenting, just trying to make it to Heaven.
Still available on Amazon for those of you who only got through three chapters…..