My highly logical, humbly beautiful, 23-year-old daughter randomly shouted out during our mother daughter outing, “Mom, you’re having too much fun for a 50 something year old woman!”. I laughed the shared holiday coffee drink right out of my mouth. Partly because of how eloquently she brushed over which birthday I had just celebrated but, mostly because I remember thinking the same thing about my own parents. We baby boomer children didn’t shout out seemingly selfish, personal frustrations at one’s parents. No, unlike the open, honest millennial generation, we remained respectful to a fault. We liked being safely tight closed doors.
Keep in mind my daughter is both logical and millennial, and this time she is also right. I AM having fun. Almost carnival type fun, similar to the same rush you get from eating cotton candy at the top of a Ferris wheel. I’m experiencing child-like joy and, I’m more mellow too, aging gracefully but not willingly, like a fine wine. How can I feel so young? Are my math skills so bad that I’ve been adding wrong all these years? When did life become so contenting and liberating, and why did it take so long? As I wiped the drips of peppermint mocha from my lips and chin, I turned my body to sit as squarely as possible in the worn, slightly lopsided passenger seat of her handed down SUV. I looked at my lovely, puzzled faced driver and said, “My dear daughter, this is my in between time”. “What?”, she asked. “So, is THIS the real you or was THAT the real you?”. “Both!”, I exclaimed.
I continued explaining, sipping and smiling, while she remained perplexed but focused on the road. She might be logical and you can’t argue with logic, but I am wiser so I continued. “Parenting is a priority that evolves and adapts to the seasons of life. This is my in between season, my intermission. I am the proud mom of capable, self functioning adult children. I’m enjoying our friendship now. During the main event, when you were small children, I rehearsed with you a lot, even when I was tired, or when I knew you weren’t listening. I nurtured and guided you when I didn’t feel like it or, when you were a teenage know-it-all rolling your eyes at me. I persevered even when I was sure you didn’t care. I gave you opportunities, not successes. I gave you opportunities, not failures. Both build character. Both created the strong, yet vulnerable woman you are today. Both gave you solid roots and soaring wings. So hooray for us! We did this together!”.
I looked at the road ahead, then at her. She remained focused, hands clenching the steering wheel, staring ahead. I explained further. “This really is my intermission. That pause in life between being an active, day-to-day delighting, stressing mom, and my final season of grand parenthood. I’m sure the word grand precedes the word parent for good reason. I look forward to expectations and agendas again, but ones with less stress. A calmer time with less multitasking and more joy. Right now though, dear daughter, in my in between time, I am an adventurous, capable, satisfied woman, allowing life’s moments to seize me. I am happy.” Still seeming curious but satisfied, she asked one final question as we pulled into the crowded shopping mall parking lot. “But, how? How do you feel so happy and content at your age?” I replied, “It’s because of you sweetheart, because of me, because of you and me. We did this together. I took parenting seriously, and although I wondered at times, I realize you took ME seriously. You were my willing student and I was your teacher without an instruction book. I was your mother. Some things just work. They work mostly because of love, because you want them to so badly it hurts, because you know it matters more than anything else you will ever do.” We parked and looked honestly into each others eyes. “Now carry on Punkin”, I said. “Enjoy this season of your life with gratitude and pride. Go relish the moments, living for today, knowing your future babies will change both our seasons again, and that will be good too.”
Smiling, we walked side by side between the large cold columns wrapped warmly with green garland and red ribbon. It was time to finish our holiday shopping. It was our moment, our mother daughter time. As the big glass door closed automatically behind us and we felt warm and cozy inside, I thought about my closing act. My future time to be grand. I felt a rush of excitement and smiled again. For now though, I’m enjoying cotton candy and a glass of wine during intermission.