Thursday, December 29, 2016

Visits from a Newly-adult Daughter

You know you’re in your Third Third when your daughter says she’d like to come for visits … and she buys the plane tickets!

You know your daughter’s still in her First Third when her visits are for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah; she still hasn’t created traditions and commitments of her own for those holidays.

But this is a visit from a newly-adult daughter, and it’s fraught with transition. One friend described her planned visit to her daughter. The daughter told Mom that the visit would be too long; Mom would have to move on after several days. Mom knew this was true – guests and fish go bad after three days – but Mom had held out hope that she wasn’t one of those “other mothers,” the ones who have to leave. (sigh) So do we all.

So when we go to the movies, and I lean over to ask something of the adult daughter, and she glowers at me because “You don’t talk in movies!” I wonder if she never lets peers talk to her in movies. It’s not like I’m chatting; I just have a question. And I know that very particular form of mother-daughter irritation, and it shatters the visions of the wonderful, mutually-approving, adult mother-daughter interaction I’ve been hoping for.

But I really admire this newly-adult daughter. She makes New Year’s resolutions that she keeps. She’d decided to read 52 books, to travel monthly, to do more daytime social activities (which I learned was meant to pose an alternative to night clubbing). And she’d done them all … but still had four books to read over vacation.

I had heard about the new book Feminist Fight Club which might shed light on some issues in office politics the newly-adult daughter was confronting. I borrowed it from the library for her. First trip, she tossed it aside. Another mother dud. Second trip, I renewed it and prodded a little more. (By my Third Third, I know how to prod.)
Victory! I went up MANY notches on the Big Mother Scale. Not only did I give her a book that spoke to her issues, but she completed her 52-book resolution with it! I had done something right!

It colored the whole rest of our trip and our conversations. Somehow I was now a person who’d learned something worth sharing. I’d grappled with professional life, faced my own workplace trials in my Second Third. In my Third Third, I had perspective.

Meanwhile, she taught me about making New Year’s resolutions. I told her I’d given up, that when I set a goal of working out three times a week, I’d miss one week and then have to catch up, and I never knew how I was doing. And she said I had to do it differently; that if I said I’d run 500 miles in 2017, it was cumulative. I could see my progress, not the times I missed.

Brilliant! I’ll do it.

I think coming home for the newly-adult daughter is a time to decompress, to give herself the space to cocoon. We save up some interesting things to share, we play lots of Five Crowns, do a jig saw puzzle. We make sure we do winter; she sees old friends. The rhythm of my Third Third makes all this easier.

And of course, she helps me put Find My Mac on my laptop and create a master password and look for a blouse at Nordstrom.

I invite her into the kitchen to make a simple avocado dish I’ve discovered. She loves it, asks for the recipe. I just glow and glow.

This is the first time she’s been here for Hanukkah in a long time. She pulls out the menorah – her favorite – and is  in charge of lighting the candles all week. The candles just glow and glow, too, and we are a family.


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