Glass Half Full: having a wonderful time adjusting
I clearly recall times when our girls were young, and we prepared either to visit our parents or for a visit from them. There were adjustments to be made, some of which involved everybody remembering that we were now “grown ups.” We would get so excited, anticipating aforementioned visits. Then the big moment(s) would arrive, and, bingo, roles instantly required redefinition.
On my side of the family, it was my relationship with my father that required the most attention, probably because we were the most alike.
Mom was much better at keeping her opinions to herself. She also had an unique way of posing questions guaranteed to make me think without putting me on the defensive. Dad once proclaimed it was his responsibility to be judgmental. Mom would query, “Have you thought about the implications of that decision three years from now?”
The only person I’ve ever walked out on was my father, on a visit home when our two daughters were teenagers. The issue had nothing to do with the girls. As I recall, it dealt with something related to the laundry I was doing. Dad, whose household job description at that point never included laundry, felt compelled to criticize.
In response, I announced that I had not flown across the country to be told what to do and left the room. It’s fair to say that neither of us acted in a particularly “grown up” way, and I was fairly mortified by my actions after I had left the house and driven to the friends’ home where we were staying.
Ironically, they were very amused. Not a whole lot of people stood up to dad. It was he, of course, who had the grace and generosity to come up to me the next day, put his arm around me, and say, “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s OK, but I’m sorry about what happened last night.”
We did, in fact, talk about it, and I was able to express how it felt to be an experienced and capable mother/wife/employee, and come home and feel I was treated like a child. In keeping with dad’s true spirit, he understood and worked hard to step back a bit.
It was not until recently that I stopped to consider how much our parents had to adjust, not just us “kids.” We all have visions of our roles as parents and children firmly planted in our psyches, whether we are aware of that fact or not.
While our children still live with us, their growth is a reasonably gradual climb. They assume more of the responsibility and freedom we grant, and we are aware of changes in them and in ourselves. Then they leave home for college and beyond, and things change for good.
This week, our daughters and granddaughter are here. The latter is 2 and ½ years old. Hillary and Allison are successful, loving adults. We’re having a wonderful time — and adjusting.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.
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