There’s advice aplenty about how to be a good parent. Parenting a small child, a toddler, tweens and teens. Parenting girls and boys, parenting twins, but no-one teaches you about Childing - or being an adult child to your parents.
Now I hear you, surely that’s just being an adult! No, I don’t think it is. The history that you share and intensity of the relationship between parent and adult child will always affect your interactions. And lets face it, you never stop being your parent’s son or daughter. So here goes, fade back…
There was a very intense time during my early 30’s when I decided I needed to confront my mother about our relationship. Many late night dicussions, much angst and rivers of tears lead nowhere. We were both emotionally and mentally exhausted, and it hit me, I didn’t need Mum to agree with me. I didn’t need to be right, and neither did she. What we both needed to understand was that we each saw the past differently and that was OK. I just needed her to understand that my truth was my truth, and I needed to understand that her truth was just as valid as mine.
It was a break through moment for both of us. Over the coming weeks and months there were many discussions about life the universe and everything, and I mean discussions, not arguments. We could accept each others way of thinking without agreeing with it. Over the years, through acceptance, there has grown not only understanding, but also appreciation. Appreciation for each other, for our shared experiences and for the experiences we have faced separately.
The other big change, since then is that we share more. Yes, we share the big ticket items, the sadness, pain and suffering; the joys, the successes and the happiness; but we also share the small moments. The boring nuff nuff that fills your day, the moments that make you want to throttle someone, the moments that make you laugh until you are doubled on the floor rolling in pain/joy. We share the sillies and talk about the inconsequential craziness that fills our lives. We have become friends, yeah, ok, we’re besties, and to top it off, we haven’t fought in years, no really, years.
I’ve been so lucky to develop such an amazing relationship with my mother and have taken what I have learnt and have implemented that with my daughter, another amazing bestie. Here’s the thing, when you know someone so well, wether it’s a parent or an adult child, it becomes easy. You know each others flash points, and you know how to bring the other person back from the boiling point. You know how to make them laugh, and you know what they need in the moment. Wether it’s laughter, a pep talk or some space.
So I am fortunate to have wonderful relationships with my Momma as and adult child and as a mother to my adult child.
That’s not to say it’s perfect, we are all human beings, and we all have our moments, but I may be ready to move to Childing 202. Maybe…
Thought’s spurred by ABC’s COMPASS special with Jane Caro, “Mum's Boy, Dad's Girl”