"I just got off the phone with my retired, 82 year young mother. She recapped her week, the usual hair and nail appointments, shopping and lunch with friends. She continued on about her upcoming plans as I listened with dismay. "Oh, and I can't talk very long, honey, we've got people coming over for breakfast", "Bob", she screams in my ear, "did you order enough bagels?". HOLD ON, did she fail to get the memo, you know, the one about a world wide pandemic? What about social distancing? What about her underlying medical conditions?
Role reversal kicked in. The kind professionals forewarn adult children about. Well, as I said, it kicked in. I admonished her behavior as reckless and risky. It seems she is entirely undaunted by the pandemic and has a packed-full social calendar to prove it. She retorted with the proclamation "I am a social creature and MUST be around people!" I could see I was dealing with Veruca Salt from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
It wasn't always this way. My childhood was fraught with frustration. Cautionary was my mothers favorite adjective. "No", a trip through Europe as a teenager was out of the question. An organized school trip to Hawaii to document plant specimens inside extinct volcanos? Summer spent working on a dude ranch? Absolutely not. Her risk averse attitude to my teenage travel plans was the downfall of my childhood happiness.
Fast forward 40 years.
Yes, the pandemic has certainly changed things. We are presented with all sorts of new, social challenges and we all have our limits to how much social distancing we can tolerate. Honestly, I don't know if I was more worried about her health or was it just plain jealousy? My mother was having more fun than me. She had sprinkled stardust on herself like Jennifer Garner's character in the movie 13 going on 30. In this case it's 82 going on 30 and it had left me bewildered. Her social freedom was paramount to her well being and she was unwilling to compromise.
Here I am, her youngest child, asserting my newly acquired authority, imploring her to stay safe, social distance or better yet, stay home altogether. To her consternation, she is considered elderly and has underlying medical health issues. Her reply to my exhaustive warnings? "What? I am washing my hands, wearing a mask, staying 6 feet from everyone."
There it was. She encapsulated that fearlessness I always watched and admired in her. However, it was do as I say, not as I do. I obeyed. Teenage rebellion to bolt free plagued my young mind....for about a split second since each time I disobeyed her karma seemed to kick in. The house party I had when she was out of town? Let's just say the neighbors called the police. Rebelling was fun until it became a disaster. Karma roared her ugly head and of course, I was grounded. There it is, this pandemic has me feeling as if I were grounded all over again.
Here I am 50 something and I realized nothing had changed. Silly me, I thought I'd had nothing left to learn from my mother. She was always fearless where I am unwilling to take risks. My childhood desire to seek adventure had to wait until I reached adulthood. I'd seen the world and returned home safely each time. Now, more than ever, I am glad to have those memories. I am eagerly awaiting future adventures when the world reopens. So, when did I become so afraid to leave the safety of my house to go to the hair salon? Is it karma? My thoughts turn to my mother. After all these years she continues to give me the confidence to charge through this world as if anything was possible.
Got to run! I have a hair appointment.