by Barrie Bramley , a father, a husband and an eager student in the art of loving life. His passion is to create and see the world differently. From time to time he writes for ‘‘Jozikids’. Visit Barrie on his web or twitter page.
For most of us, when we think ‘Jozi Kids’ we think children and possibly pre-teens or tweens. But today as I was driving my mother back home from Grannie’s Day at my children’s school, I realized, at the age of 40, I too am a Jozi Kid.
Somewhere in Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Travelled, is a page where he suggests, that one of the most difficult developmental stages for us adults, is to see our parents as adults, and our parents to see us as adults.
When I bring this thought up in conversation with my peers, we often giggle nervously at the reminder of what we become when we ‘go back home’ to visit mom and/or dad. We transform almost instantly from competent business people, parents and adults, as we so quickly take our position in our parents home as a child once again. For some this looks like lying on the couch like we did as teens waiting for mom to offer us her specially
made coffee or tea. We switch on the TV while she heads off to the kitchen to make her ‘little girl/boy’ a nice cup of something. All the warm mushy feelings of our childhood kick back in as we give up our adult identity and become child once again. And for most of us it works. Mom/Dad is happy to be back in their role as caring parent, and we’re happy as we escape our busy lives full of difficult responsibility into child mode.
But there’s a less giggly nuance to this picture I’m discovering, as I experience my mother getting older and less able to remember. It’s been a difficult journey for me to watch my mother get older, weaker and less able in areas that she was once highly competent. My mother was a fighter. She was a vociferous white liberal in a community of less liberal friends and family. She collected outstanding money for my dad’s business. She walked several kilometers each day. There wasn’t a person or an issue she wouldn’t take on if she felt strongly enough about it.
My struggle isn’t with my mother getting older. It’s with me having to grow up.
I made this realisation today because I felt easier being with my mom Today my new skill was acceptance. In accepting my awkwardness and pain, I wasn’t frustrated that she couldn’t remember. I didn’t get impatient that she’s struggling to walk unassisted. Instead, I helped her to both remember and get to where we were needing to go. I felt a little reconnection to my mom, and I hope like hell she felt something as well. A better son. An understanding son. A compassionate and caring son. The son I once was. The son she remembers. The son who disappeared for a while because of his own inability to deal with a shifting relationship.
I have a distance to go still. I have those nasty internal voices to fight still. I have those people who judge and label me as the absent son to shield myself from. I have some help to find for my own growth. I don’t have time on my side.
I have a mom to reconnect with. In a new way, but in an old way.