Mother’s Day, debriefed
Well, it’s about a week after Mother’s Day and the butter in the Eggs Benedict has worked its way to the waist.
But there’s other fallout from the Sunday that was and the greatest may be the older woman’s seasonal evaluation of her adult children.
For nothing gets a mom thinking more about middle-aged Johnny and Josh than the Sunday in May when she was supposed to be rewarded for giving birth to them.
What gets us older parents started on this subject? Maybe it’s the Mother’s Day flowers (or their absence). Maybe it’s the ceremonial Eggs Benedict or the fact that nobody invited some of us out for a meal. But I think I can hear the litany:
Why didn’t I get brunched like all my friends? Why don’t the kids visit?
They have cell phones implanted in their ears, so why don’t they call? And why is Mother’s Day all about them and their families and not about me? They may think of me as Mother Emeritus, my ovaries on Social Security along with the rest of me, but don’t they know that mothers never retire?
And so it can go – a private grousing of epic proportions. But if and when you find yourself playing the witness for the prosecution of ungrateful offspring, here are some things that may soften your thinking.
Your kids may be super short on money
To make ends meet, they may be working the long hours that the unions were once supposed to reform. Some of our children do a nine to nine gig, two jobs just to afford housing in a market where a tear-down can cost a half million dollars – all those long hours to pay down their mortgage, one that is big enough to fund the equivalent of 20 houses from the 1950’s and 60’s. Also, if our offspring are women, they may have job-ettes, which means the pay is lite and the work is menial, but the mortgage rates are the same no matter the gender or the job. So, bottom line, our kids may not have the dough for $50-buck bouquets or large brunches hosted by their credit cards.
Your kids have no time
If they have children, their leisure hours are non-existent. To begin with, today’s moms and dads are unpaid taxi drivers. They drive the daily school route and then the routes for after-school and weekend sports. These unending drives mean the daughter you sent to that excellent college now spends much of her life looking up the tailpipes of other taxi-driving moms.
Your kids also drive their kids to play dates, sleepovers, music lessons, art lessons, first-run movies involving action heroes and many of the finest pizza parlors in town. That’s in addition to being room mom, homework helper, housefrau, etc. etc. – a drill that is familiar to us older women.
Visits and vacations
As for family visiting, your kids have less vacation line than other First World workers and they may not want to spend it on your living room couch with the kids on the floor. And they are under pressure from their kids to go spend vacations with Walt Disney.
What? Is Mickey Mouse more important than Grandma? Yes, and if you do not learn that small minds think that way, you will lose your granny license.
Words for the wise
Our extended family now communicates on the run, which is not as good as a fireside chat, but better than silence. I catch my kids on their taxi runs or I get near my phone during commuter hours which is when the calls come in – mostly from sons and step-sons bored with their commute. If I am near my computer during these calls, I act as newscaster on the MBS – Mom Broadcasting System. I give headlines and sports scores.
As for seeing families on vacation in an environment interesting to all, eight of us are about to camp on the Sonoma Coast – a no-host situation where all pitch in. (Theoretically.)
Meanwhile, yes, your kids should have at least called last week. If they didn’t, send them this column. And if you are a mid-life adult whose parents have trouble understanding your life as an unpaid taxi-driver, send this.
And both of you, pick up the phone.
The author of four non-fiction books, gerontologist Mel Walsh has a new book of advice for the 50+ woman: “Hot Granny,” published by Chronicle Books. Write email@example.com. More info at http://www.melwalsh.com
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