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Hindsight’s 20/20 With Rose Colored Glasses

Article by Gail McConnon

If you’re an adult child of aging parents, and you’re currently somewhere between walking a tightrope of uncertainty, worry, guilt, sleeplessness and a little bit of highly-focused caregiver’s distress.. and wishing with all your might that you could just once tell everyone in your family what you’re really thinking about how very much this isn’t supposed to be the relationship you’d have chosen to have with your parents.. welcome to what used to be my world.

Few could question that I loved my mother. The thing is, I didn’t realize how much I loved her till the last few years we were together. And those years went by way too fast. Most of the time before that we lived in two seemingly different and quite combative worlds. There were times I wondered how or if we were even related.

You see, my mom and I were in competition – at lease to my way of interpreting the world. I grew up hating everything that was expected of a girl, and made sure my mom knew it at every turn. Of course, the fact that my childhood “jobs” included cleaning the bathroom and ironing my dad’s boxer shorts – for goodness sakes – didn’t help. How much more boring and generally unfulfilling could life get?! Girl stuff. Hah!

No, I much preferred spending my time outside competing with my brother for my father’s approval. I was the athlete every father dreamed of. I could drive the old stick shift tractor when I was eight, and get just as dirty as the guys without thinking twice about it. I brought home frog eggs in the springtime, and had a dead turtle I kept digging up to show everyone who came to visit. I was definitely not the poster child for all things feminine.

I even saw my mother as competition for my dad’s attention, which didn’t help our mother/daughter relationship one whit. Actually, that mother/daughter relationship thing spent a lot of time on shaky ground. While my father and I could talk about just about anything, my mother and I could barely get past “go” without running into problems. It didn’t much matter what it was. We just seemed to automatically find each others’ buttons, and we pushed.

There was one time, and I don’t even remember the situation, but I will never forget looking at my mother and saying “You don’t have to love me, but why can’t you just like me?”. That’s alway stayed with me. I learned much later that it always stayed with her as well. None of it was anyone’s fault. We were just pushing buttons. And sometimes that pushing hurt more far than others.

As for my dad: I have to admit that I barely knew him. We were very close when I was young. However, the older I became, the more I came to feel that I was a disappointment to him.. and the less he said otherwise. Finally, he stopped saying much of anything that wasn’t totally superficial. And I stopped trying to say anything for fear of the response.

The fact of the matter was that our thinking was at opposite ends of the spectrum. If he said “black”, I’d counter with “white”. His “up” was my “down”. His “yes” was my “absolutely not!”.

Looking back, I really don’t believe we were judging one another. It was a natural separation – a taking flight – that had to happen. It just happened very messily.

I judged myself enough for both of us – and not very positively most of the time. I went from being his favorite, to feeling I’d let him down. The difficult part was that he never said otherwise. And so I internalized a belief that had no base in fact. We do that sort of thing all the time, don’t we? And the truly sad part is that we hold on to those self-defeating beliefs and let them guide us into even more places we’d just as soon not be going.. if only we knew better.

My parents are both gone. It’s been nearly nine years since my father died, and just over three for my mother. And in that passage of time, I can honestly say that time softens the rough spots.

I miss my mom a great deal because we were very close the last few years of her life. Time and maturity softened the rough spots of our relationship. There are still things I regret, but they don’t overwhelm me. There’s a sort of flow to my memories of her that required time to even out the edges and give me space to breathe. That’s important.. the breathing part.

Memories of my father are far less comfortable. There were so many gaps in our relationship, so many holes to fall through, and he died before I knew him. Perhaps we’d never have reconnected. There were so very many rough edges between us. I don’t know.

I think the worst part was the silence. We didn’t know how to talk with one another, and so we didn’t talk with one another. There are still way too many empty spaces that I can feel hanging between us. And even though I can look at those and forgive him, and forgive myself, they’re still empty spaces. I’m working on those. Of course, it’s work I’ll have to do alone.

It’s easy to look back with the clarity of hindsight, and imagine exactly what we should have done differently. Of course, we can only account for our own responses. It took me a while to really, seriously pardon myself for being imperfectly human.. and to pardon my parents for being the same.

That’s what we are, you know… imperfect human beings. Until you can accept that – warts and all – there’s no sense even trying to put on the rose colored glasses because all you’ll see are rose-colored warts.

If you can give the hindsight a little room to maneuver.. and gentle-down your memories of both yourself and your parents, however.. the rosey color starts to come through. (Of course, that means you have to let go.) And as time passes, and as you really start to let go… a little here… a little there, the dark edges take on a hint of pink. That shows you’re growing. And growing’s what life’s all about.

About the Author

An expert on “letting go in aging,” Gail McConnon helps midlife adults clear out the emotional baggage that interferes in their relationships with their aging parents. Gail is a professional aging coach & mentor & holds BA, MPH, and MS degrees. Gail also was the adult child of & primary caregiver to her mother for the last six years of her mother’s life. Visit http://www.celebrateagingparents.com for info, resources, free reports & Gail’s BLOG.

Indeed the best speech is the word of Allah and the best way of life is the Sunnah of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasalam. The best of affairs are the prescribed matters and the worst of affairs are the innovated matters. The best of knowledge is that which benefits The upper hand is better then the lower hand, and wailing over the dead is from ignorance. Abusing a muslim is wickedness killing him is kufr, and backbiting him is eating his flesh. The worst of earnings is the earnings of riba, the worst of food is eating the inheritance of the orphan. the best of knowledge is that which benefits, and the worst of reports are those which are lies. He who is proud of himself, Allah debases him. He who does acts to be known of man, Allah will make it known of him. He who is patient in calamities, Allah will turn his affairs, making them right to have less then that which satisfies, is better then to have too much one cannot control themselves. The best provision for the hereafter is indeed piety. And he who pardons his brother, Allah indeed will pardon him. He who obeys shayton, disobeys Allah and He who disobeys Allah, Allah will punish him. ALLAH, The Most Gracious Most Merciful, rose over his throne in a way that suits his majesty. He is the First, The last, The most high, The most near, Knower of everything. Lord of the seven heavens, Lord of the seven earths, Splitter of the seed and the seed stone. Know that nothing is in the likeness of Allah, nor is there anything
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