I saw this meme the other day which reminded me of a blog post I’d started some time ago. For reasons I cannot recall, though laziness probably featured highly, I did nothing with it at the time – perhaps thinking there was no story ‘arc’ or point to the piece.
Regular readers will know however, I rarely let that stop me, so here I am again… pondering the notion of history repeating itself. Or karma. Or similar.
I had a conversation with a work colleague recently. We were talking about ageing parents and she mentioned some of her regrets. (She’s older than I am and her parents are both long gone.)
She said she felt pretty close to her mother but has only now become increasing conscious of her missed opportunities. She said it’s particularly ironic because the situation is repeating itself with her own children.
She was ‘once’ close to her mother she said, but – even though they lived in close proximity – didn’t catch up much, and she often felt a little exasperated when she had to do chores for her mother given other competing priorities.
She said her (then teenage) kids still lived at home at the time and she felt relieved she had a better relationship with them than she and her mother had, so was happy that things would be different… when her time came.
Fast forward over a decade and she said she’s surprised to find herself in her mother’s position. Her kids have their own lives and own commitments and she’s often an afterthought. She feels like they see her as a burden and yet she doesn’t mean to be and doesn’t think she is.
I don’t have kids so haven’t been able to ponder on this myself. I think about my own mum who was close to her mother and even though they lived at opposite ‘sides’ of the state they wrote (at least) weekly until my grandmother passed away. I like to think she didn’t drop the ball when it came to her commitments towards her mother just because we came along or life got busy.
Regular readers – or those who follow me on social media – know my mother is very generous. My parents didn’t have a lot. Both left school by 14 or so and worked hard all of their lives to ensure my brother and I had a University education. There were no fancy holidays or dinners out, but they devoted their lives to us in many ways. But not – I think – to the detriment of their own families.
In addition to their own parents my mother and father were incredibly giving to an uncle and aunt of dad’s whose kids lived elsewhere and rarely visited. They set a wonderful example and my 72yr old mother continues to do so as she ferries the ‘oldies’ from her church and social networks around town and to appointments.
Whereas I’m a lazy SOB so am unsure I’ll be as generous to all of my elders. I’m sure I’m not as patient with my mother as I should be and don’t visit my local aunt and uncle as much as I should. As someone who will – essentially – have no one when my mother’s gone you’d think I would appreciate the importance of those few people I DO have in my life.
But my colleague’s point, I think (see, I told you there was no story arc to this piece!), is that we always think there will be more time. She was busy with her own kids – who needed to be her priority – and work and so forth. She thought she had more time. And I ‘get’ that. Regret is a big concern for me. There feels like there are a lot of things I have, or have not, done. I’m trying to rectify that but… well, time continues to tick away.
I realise Cat’s in the Cradle isn’t ‘exactly’ about this… but you’re in the mood for some Harry Chapin, here you go.
Do you think you set a good example for your kids in terms of your relationship with your family / loved ones / others? Do you think it matters?