I have just gotten 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 and I listened in 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 to expect. I admonished her behavior. It is reckless and risky. Despite my lecture 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!" She was as obstinate as Veruca Salt from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
It wasn't always this way. Her risk averse attitude to my teenage travel plans was the downfall of my childhood happiness. Cautionary was my mothers favorite adjective. "No", a trip through Europe as a teenager was out of the question. Summer spent working on a dude ranch? An organized school trip to Hawaii to document plant specimens inside extinct volcanos? Absolutely not.
Fast forward 40 years.
Yes, the pandemic has certainly changed things. New social challenges test our very being. How much social isolation are we willing to tolerate for the sake of our health....for the health of those around us? 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 she was out to have fun at any cost. Her social freedom was paramount to her well being and she was unwilling to compromise.
Reversing parent-child roles I implored her to stay safe, social distance or better yet, stay home altogether. She refuses to accept the title "elderly" and doesn't let her underlying medical health issues prevent her from living life on her terms. 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. However, it was do as I say, not as I do. Teenage rebellion to bolt free plagued my young mind for only a split second. I had dared to disobey only once or twice. My mother and Karma were formidable consequences. 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. I was grounded. Funny, the 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, returned home safely each time and 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? Karma or just good sense? After all these years my mother confidently does as she pleases undaunted by consequences. I am once again going to follow her advice.
Got to run, have a hair appointment!