There are many transitions I am navigating in retirement. One of them is the continuous journey on the road to being the parent of an adult daughter.
My daughter is a young adult now, living and working out of state. I see her frequently (too frequently, as some friends are quick to point out!) during visits to her new home and when she visits back home. I love being around her. Even though she is long grown, I still see my “baby” and the urge to protect her well being and happiness surges through me when we’re together.
Something else surges through me at those times….unasked for advice bubbles in me like carbonation in a can of soda. Her comments about her life makes me spew unwanted questions and reflections during the most casual of conversations.
The minute I start to speak, she regards me warily and I know she’s trying to brace herself for the onslaught of mothering that is likely to engulf her. To her credit, she is mostly patient as I work to undo a lifetime habit (and career as an elementary teacher) of molding and guiding the children under my wing. Since I retired, my expansive wings grown from years of sheltering my young charges have sometimes overshadowed the lone baby bird that long ago flew away from my nest.
I try to watch for the signs in her eyes that I have overstepped my boundaries. I remind myself that my lovely adult daughter has proven herself to be more than capable of living on her own and making responsible choices. She doesn’t need, nor want, me to tell her how to live her life. I am now the cheerleader on the sidelines and the “soft place to fall” when life’s inevitable hiccups make it hard to catch her breath.
And, if I forget, there is always the patient hand of my daughter, long grown from the toddler’s hand that clutched mine tightly so many years ago, that will touch my hand gently as she reminds me, “Mom, it’s Ok. I don’t need you to do anything but listen.” At those times, I swallow back the need to guide and control that oozes from my pores and concentrate on hearing the words of the beautiful young woman that sits before me. I try to focus on the love in my heart that swells with pride in her presence….instead of the advice that bubbles in my head. My nest may be empty, but my heart is full. In the meantime, if anyone ever needs someone to tell them how to live their life-give me a call! Old habits die hard, and I am happy to give you my advice. I’m sure my daughter would appreciate it:)