Dear Meddlers, (or “Don’t Get Involved!”)
I get you because I’m one of you. Like Susan Sarandon’s character in The Meddler movie, we hate to break that close connection we have with our kids. The proverbial mom-kid cord is unbelievably stretchy and tough.
The saying , “A mom is only as happy as her least happy child” could be my mantra. I’m forever trying to fix their problems or give them the best advice on how to fix things themselves. And now retirement has given me so much time to increase my meddling. I text my three sons (in their 20’s!!!) way too much: “Dinner here tonight?” “Saw this comic about a big toad & thought of you.” “Have you written that thank you to PaPa?” “You left your phone charger here” “I’m in your hood. Want some cheese?” blah.blah.blah.
I used to be their personal chef, chauffeur, and counselor. Now they only share details about extreme cases: “My car’s on fire!” “College tuition was due yesterday.” “I have a red, swollen rash on my butt.”
Over 20 years ago on a family vacation I was sleeping on a top bunk bed, when my then 18-month-old son started crying around 2:30 a.m., and in my hurry to soothe and quiet him, I jumped from my bed, misjudged the location of the port-a-crib, and crashed to the floor. My sister and her NYC friend were sleeping in the next room, and when Gayle got up to check on me, Danny stopped her with, “Don’t get involved!” Now often during family situations, those 3 and a half words are the wisest of wise. Yet when does detachment turn to isolation??
We gotta balance our meddling with our letting go.
Thomas Merton wrote,”The beginning of love is letting those we love be perfectly themselves, and not try to twist them to fit our own image.”
So I once wiped their butts, dried their tears, and kissed their bo-bos. Now I gotta learn how to step back at times. I have to let my kids face their own independence, even when it punches them in their guts, leaves them on the side of a deserted road, or fills their hearts up with hurt. As much as I love, love, love feeding them and helping them, the smile they flash me when they share their latest on-their-own accomplishment is even groovier that the thank-you smile for my latest bit of meddling.
Ginger Keller Gannaway