I just heard from Sandra Butler of the 70 Candles group (women aged 70 and over) about her new book, co-authored with Nan Gefen: It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Women. Published by She Writes Press, the book is available on Amazon. This is a topic I don’t often see discussed; and as I read Sandra’s description of it, I realize that I could use some wisdom and advice from other older mothers who’ve been walking in my shoes a little longer than I have. I mean, just as when my daughters were growing from newborns to toddlers to girls to young women, I’m winging it. Still. Such is the nature of parenting; it’s perpetual on-the-job training, and then when you think you’ve got some stuff down, the position is eliminated. But you’re then kept on as a consultant for any new issues that might arise, for which, again, you have absolutely no background or experience. Hm.
At least when you get to this stage – my daughters are 30 and 33 – you start to relate to your adult daughters on a woman-to-woman basis. You’re both fully here, with the same capacity of language and, if you’re lucky, compatible life philosophies that make sharing and caring so rich and so deep. In some ways, I feel more intimately involved with my daughters now than I did when they were small. I mean, as they tell me what’s going on in their lives and how they feel, I remember clearly how I felt or what I did in situations similar to theirs. This was not so true when they were little; children’s minds and moods were often a mystery to me. As I watch my daughters deal with issues of friendships and careers and love relationships, I remember my own, and I feel not so much like a mother as a friend and a colleague in the work of life. A mentor sometimes; an annoying old woman others. Mostly I feel such love and pride and sorrow and closeness and desperate longing for their happiness that I can hardly bear it.
But – I confess I’m often at a loss when times are tough for them. I might have advice, but I’m quite aware that they may or may not think that it carries any wisdom at all and they may or may not follow it. Sometimes I hear myself say things that I think are helpful that clearly piss them off, and I find myself wondering, “What? What did I say? Wait a minute – I’m a cool mom. You can’t find me annoying!”
So yeah, one thing I definitely do know – all mothers know – is that mothering is never done, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we never do know what the hell we’re doing. All we know is that we love our daughters beyond words, and as we grow the years between us, we wish to heal old wounds, patch old misunderstandings, share ourselves in a way that’s meaningful, and celebrate life with them.
A book to help me understand? Cope? Be better at this job whose mastery continuously eludes my grasp? You betcha. I’ve ordered my copy. You might want to give yourself your own holiday gift this year, and order one for yourself too.