Friday, October 26, 2007

Dancing between 19 and 90

I am standing somewhere between 19 and 90, roughly halfway between my young adult daughter and my elderly mother. This trio of women, bound by blood, mysteriously possessed of interconnectedness, dependence and independence, is engaged in a dance as unique as any. We move towards and away from one another unpredictably, our thoughts often private, our actions sometimes subtle and sometime bold. I, of course, experience this dance from my own perspective and wonder if either of the other two even think about things like this. Probably not; they are too busy with more pressing concerns. For whatever reason I am steeped in thoughts of what is means to be a daughter and the mother of a daughter simultaneously. Perhaps it is because this privileged position is temporary and limited as I watch my elderly mother's health continue a downward spiral. I also see my daughter becoming more independent and making her own decisions about important issues. Change always make me restless; after so many years of things being status quo, to experience an escalating rate of change in both of my mother and my daughter (and in myself) has me spinning.

Both of these women need me. Lots of me. Although their needs are vastly different there are some commonalities. They need me to be calm and collected, thoughtful and insightful, supportive and nurturing. They need advice about the big and the little things; advice that I don't always have and find myself half inventing. They both struggle with the challenge of human connection. Both are hard on themselves and have high expectations. Both are in the midst of major life changes; maturation on the one hand and physical and mental deterioration on the other.

The contrasts are significant as well. One demands my physical presence the other less so. One seeks my approval, the other less so. One cares deeply where I am at any given time, the other is unconcerned. One is loosening (not severing) ties, the other is strengthening ties. And I stand between the two, indelibly linked by my unconditional love for them both, my respect for the wonderful people they are, and a concern for their well being in challenging times. I feel priveleged to dance with them although I don't know all the steps and the tempo keeps changing.

I have to admit, that I need them as much as they need me; in different ways for sure but need them, I do.

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