Miriam Feder home


I am my Mother and Father

Every girl swears it won’t happen to her. Every young mother is shocked to see the tell-tale signs. “I’m becoming my Mother.” I see it in the friends I look up after so many years, at childrens graduations, in the tears and laughter. I catch some of those trite and untimely phrases as they tumble off my lips. I too am my Mother.

And my Father. Finally I understand some of those strange things he knew were true, things he tried to tell me, but how could anyone under fifty possibly understand those convoluted lessons? And how could he have resisted trying to share them with me? They were lessons I never wanted at the time—eyeballs rolling. Now I’m rummaging through dog-eared brain cells and time-warped tapes to find them again.

Honor your Mother and your Father; that’s one of the big ten. Because you will become them; was that the tag line? That sort of goes with whole Vengeful God of the Old Testament thing now, doesn’t it?

Of course our parents were saints, when we choose to romanticize them: the greatest generation. I begin to comprehend the difficulties they faced, the challenges and uncertainties they met and played through without transition, therapy, Prozac, chevre, or good American wine. Sometimes I even understand the well-meaning if imperfect solutions they foisted upon our lives.

And our parents are a pain. I listen to the frustrations of my friends dealing with frail parents. We swear to pinch each other out of such behaviors when we are older, frailer, more fearful and increasingly dependent. We will tell someone when we fall, feel ill, depressed, or lonely. We’ll make sure several people have ALL the keys they may need to our houses, cars and caravans. We won’t wait for people to call us. We will initiate contact in whatever the favored medium of the day may be.

We will clean stuff out, give and throw it away and keep the important stuff where it can be found. We will tell our doctors EVERYTHING. We will not cast people out for their choices in lip color, hosiery, language, religion, or the lack thereof. We will try to be “with it,” but not too with it—if you know what I mean.

I’m curious to see how we do with that. Will I really tell Julie that she’s crazy-making? Or will I be too nice? Will I cause my daughter to nag at me endlessly and yet remain deaf to the things that could make my life easier? Some of my people have already become rather rigid. I’m still busy discovering the rules I adopted unwittingly forty and more years ago and breaking them over my knee. I’m a grown-up; I don’t need no stinkin’ rules. But what makes us think we’ll age more gracefully? After all—we are our Mothers and our Fathers.