I sent my daughter a package this week. She had hit a rough patch, and asked me to send a care package the way I did when she was in college. I love it when my kids need me. Probably because they are, on the whole, independent. Grown.
Besides, this gave me a good excuse to go and buy beauty products. I sent her Aveda lip balm in Peony, along with some serious hand lotion, and two tubes of stuff for de-frizzing curls. She lives in New Jersey. Apparently they have real winter in New Jersey, and your lips, hair and hands come under attack.
Aveda products smell delicious. The lip balm has just the right degree of color. No mirror required to avoid clown mouth. I love things that add no worry to our existence.
The package was scheduled to arrive Thursday. And, come Thursday, I waited. The days when I was content to mother without thank yous have passed. I almost called her under the pretense of making sure everything had arrived.
Restraint. I thought, “I have to step back. Give her a little time to thank me. Or not.” I waited.
Friday she called. “Thank you Mom. It was perfect.” Effusive. Happy. If I had called her I would have wrecked everything. Skin of my teeth.
It’s always a question, with adult kids. What relationship prevails? Who are we to them? How authentic? I’m clear, I’m no longer the hand into which they get to put their empty candy wrappers. But I haven’t won the golden ticket to be a big baby, either. My real self may feel needy but my real self also wants the best for them.
It made me think.
In my corporate life, I had to create a fairly tough persona. Man up, only, um, I’m a woman. In my parenting life, calm, rational mamahood, only, um, I’m fairly high-strung. Even in social media we manage personas. Are these all false? Is the psychological model right? I had an underlying desire to call my daughter right away and ask, “Did you get the package?” just so I could hear her say, “Thank you, Mom.” Is that our real self?
I used to think so. Now, not so much. Maybe when we’re young. The physical swings, impulses, needs, are stronger. The raw materials, well, rawer. The learned self of late childhood still only rough, and hard to see clearly. You’re right down in it.
But at 53, it seems possible that what I love is as much my authentic self as what I need. That restraint can be as true as confession. That pauses are almost movement.
*And no, no compensation has exchanged hands. Provoked a thought. But that’s free.