Parents and Their Adult Children

by Bella Rum

I don’t have time to do this subject justice. The Grand Trio is coming for a visit tomorrow, and I’m busy making favorite foods. I have a couple of horror stories about friends and their less than perfect adult children. I actually wrote an entire post about it, and then had second thoughts about publishing it. Do you ever do that, write a post and then decide not to publish it because it’s too personal? Of course, you can always change names or not use them at all, but because I know them, it feels too personal. I think I will write something about it, but for now, I give you the lady I met in Marshall’s on Sunday.

Her’s is not a horror story, but a more typical story that many, maybe even most, mothers of adult children have. They don’t call enough. They just aren’t attentive enough in general. They give me things and I want time.

I was in that section that has all the whats and wherefores for prettying up the house or cooking or gift giving. They have everything from frames and lamps and dishes to sheets and towels. I saw a box of something and picked it up. I asked H what it was. He said, “I think it’s notecards.” I opened the box and pulled one out, and that’s exactly what it was. They had a pretty design on the front and opened to a blank page. I said, “They’re perfect for thank you cards, but who sends thank you cards anymore.” I heard a small voice behind me, “I do.”

I turned around to see an older lady. I’d say well into her eighties. You have to be at least in your eighties for me to call you “older.” And that number moves out further every year. When I turned to see her, I said, “Me too, but that’s because…” and she chimed in to help me finish, “We’re old.” I said, “Exactly.”

She was dressed in her Sunday best and her hair was “done” and she was alone, which told me she still drives. I don’t know why I always think about that with older people, probably because my vision is fading, and I wonder when I will have to give it up. Anyway, she clearly wanted to talk, and you know how I love to talk to strangers. Everyone has a story and I want to hear them all.

She started telling me about her kids and grandkids. Both of her sons are quite successful, and she covered that in-depth. No matter how lacking they may find them in other areas, mother’s love to brag about how successful their adult kids are, especially sons. Before they begin to complain about them, they want you to know that one is an engineer and the other one just got a huge promotion that came with the appropriate raise. And they work sooo hard, and they never have their priorities exactly straight. (I know this because I do it, too.) And they definitely don’t send thank you cards.

There’s always an underlying point, and that point is that these overachieving, highly successful, high income-producing brats are up there on the top rung of the ladder because of US, their long-suffering, endlessly sacrificing mothers, and they don’t give us the credit, attention or undying devotion that we supremely deserve.

I once told my son that there are two calls that even the President of the United States answers no matter what he is doing – his wife’s and his mother’s. “Good one, Mom.”

After she told me about their success, she lamented, “They give me all these expensive things.” Then she rummaged around in her purse and finally pulled out a smart phone. She showed it to us and said, “Why do I need this?” Then she told us why, “So they can text me instead of calling me and talking to me.” Then she told us about her beautiful grandchildren who haven’t been ruined… yet.

One son just had a brand new baby, and she can’t understand why they take pictures of every single thing he does. She thinks he’s beautiful, too, but it can’t be good to constantly take pictures of him. She said, “He moves this way and they take a picture. He moves that way and they take a picture. He smiles and they take a picture. He frowns and they take a picture. Here, let me show you. They send them to me every single day, and I have them on this thing.”

She holds her phone up and pushes a button. Nothing happens. She tries again. Nothing. Then she says the battery shouldn’t be dead, she knows she turned it off in church. She tries again. Nothing. Poor thing. She wanted so much to show us those pictures they shouldn’t have taken so many of… on the phone they shouldn’t have given her in the first place.

We finally said our good byes and moved on.

The kid next door is going off to college this fall. His parents are having a graduation party for him tomorrow. His mom leaned on the fence between our backyards the other day. Wiping tears from the corners of her eyes, she proudly extolled his academic and sports achievements. I remember doing the same thing when my son left the nest. I didn’t tell her that he would never call.

Adult children out there, call your mother! It’s the one thing you can give her that she actually wants from you.

My son turns 40 in a few days. I wrote in his card:

We never had to bail you out of jail. We never had to wire money to get you out of a jam (maybe once). We never had to report you for elder abuse. Yet. You’ve surpassed every moral value we ever had. You are a great son. Call your mother.