Just took a ride across town with my brother after an evening with friends and family. We had to drive back to my house for a few moments to run an errand and my brother is always willing to help me out with that sort of thing. I can't drive myself yet, doctor's (and wife's) orders, so he took me over there and back. Along the way we talked all about how life is with our parents back in town.
I've written a lot lately about my parents, especially my mother, and I'm hoping that it's not coming off as too much complaining. Really, I'm fascinated by how things are and the ways in which I'm becoming more aware of how I am in all of this. I'm seeing how my role isn't to help or save my parents, especially my mother, but merely to allow myself to be calm and participate in my own life when I'm around them.
So on the drive over and back to my house, my brother and I were talking about how we are trying to learn new ways with our parents. There is the usual stuff about how all of us are getting older and the roles have long since started to reverse with them becoming the children and us the parents, but there was more. I mean, we have long realized the changing roles, but now both of us, without too much coordination, are changing how we choose to perceive things with them.
Like me, my brother is trying to take them where they are at rather than regretting that they are not exactly who we want them to be. I just smiled writing that line. I can picture someone reading it as extreme disappointment in who they are. I don't mean it that way. It's just that, being human, they can't measure up to the image I set for them when I was three. Instead, they are just as flawed as anyone and it's long past time I got used to that.
I say, "got used to that" because it's not something I haven't acknowledged before. I've long known that they are flawed. It's just that, until all too recently, I have fought against the state of things. I've pushed back against the fact that they are flawed, complaining that they haven't changed, and lamenting the fact that I can't get them to change. What I'm getting used to is that I can accept who they are, accept what they can and can't do, and accept that I can be around them without trying to force change.
On the way home from my house we were talking about how I would love to get my mom to try therapy. She resists it, I think, because she is scared that she will dredge up or be expected to dredge up the things from her past that she is sure she cannot face. Just a short while ago, that's exactly what I wanted her to do -- dredge up the past, fix it, and become the mom I imagined would make me whole. Tonight, on the way home, I had different designs.
"If she could just go to someone who could give her a tool for the week, something she could work on. It might be something like, 'choose someone you haven't talked to in a while, call them up, talk with them with the intention to listen more than you speak, and remember as much as you can from the conversation. Just recall what was said, what they told you, how they told you, and so on. We'll talk about it next week when you come in."
My brother put it another way.
"I'd like someone to help her be a little old lady. A happier one who isn't so nervous. Like tonight, when she couldn't find her purse. She should just say to someone, 'go find my purse for me, won't you?' and expect that it will be done. But she can't be dependent on people that way, can't put herself out like that unless there was someone telling her that she had to try it and let her know how it goes."
We're on the same track with this. We just want her to find some way to be a little happier, calmer, safer. And I think we both understand that the best way we can help her on that journey is to be a little happier, calmer, and safer around her. Who knows, it might just work.
It's Christmas Eve tonight. The tree is lit. Santa has come by and dropped off more presents than any of us can believe. My brother and I are back from our errands and a little further on the journey with our parents. We'll keep going. There are all those presents to open tomorrow. All that time to be together. And through it all, it seems only right an natural to write on.