Monday, December 13, 2010

Living on the sideline with borrowed wisdom

The human condition has tragedy built in. Comedy as well, but that is not the topic this time.

No matter how smoothly a life goes, no matter how much love, health, and joy a person has received, sooner or later the sheer passage of time brings sadness. Time, that thief, rips the babies from our arms as cruelly as the most evil kidnapper.

Not that we'd want to change nappies all our life. It would just be nice to magically turn the clock back once in a while and snuggle with a child on each side to read bed time stories.

Both my living offspring are thriving as good, interesting adults who we enjoy spending time with. We have no quarrels. It is as good as it gets.
But most parents of grownup kids have to deal with this fact: where we were once central to our children's lives, we are now on the outer edge.

This is as it should be. We did the same to our parents. I had good parents, who I loved. But still. We said goodbye at airports, impatient to get away from the last hugs, relieved to turn our back on the tears.
Now it is our turn to be the old parent, who would always like a tiny bit more than the grown child has time or energy to give. We would not wish it to be different. Yet there are moments when it makes us sad.

I find great solace in a Korean proverb, shared by Dr. Ben Kim, one of my favourite health writers. "Love flows downstream". A beautiful image that recognizes that parents will always love their grown children a bit more than they are loved back, and that is O.K. Just accept it. Know that it does not mean anything is wrong with you or the relationship with your children. It is the human condition. It is as it is.

Western psychology can get all tangled up in the economy of love, the giving and receiving, the 'you deserve it!' looking after me-me-me. Somewhere I came across this gem from an old woman. I am sorry I cannot credit it.

"When I was young I was always desperately trying to GET love. Now I find it easier to just BE love."
I find this a wonderfully freeing concept.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is a beautiful post....