But I know what she means. Unlike my mother, who took on the role of mother as if it had no beginning and no end, I anticipated my kids' entrance into adulthood as if I expected to hear a "ta da." There, finally, you made it. My job is done.
Myers-Briggs is a well known personalty type test. This is what it says about my type as a parent:
As parents INFJs, much as in their friendships, will tend to look at their relationships with their children as opportunities to learn and grow with someone they care about, while working to achieve a distinctly separate but important goal – raising someone to be an independent, responsible and principled adult. People with the INFJ personality type are unflinching in their devotion to their children, willing to grin and bear any burden without hesitation. While warm and compassionate throughout the parenting relationship, what INFJs are really looking forward to is being able to communicate and relate to the person they helped to raise, as equals.
Wait, not so fast. Aren't you a mother forever? Well, yes, but...
I wonder if every kid gets a wake-up call. Mine came when I not-too-hesitantly asked my dad to borrow money to replace my bald tires. Surely he didn't want his precious daughter driving around in an unsafe car? He lent me the money, but not before alerting me with this: "I thought when my kids were on their own, they'd be on their own." Okay, that was a one-two punch I wasn't expecting. And it accomplished what he meant it to - I thought about my adult hood very differently after that. It was up to me to live it and afford it. I still felt my parents were my safety net - they wouldn't let me be homeless if that situation ever arose, I knew that.
If I drew a timeline of "me" as one might have experienced me through my years, it would look something like this:
From happy-go-lucky, to introspective, to independent, to being a loving wife & partner, to being a loving mom, to awakening to awareness and consciousness - now.
A timeline from psychology's perspective:
I imagine that my parents and siblings might have enjoyed me had I stayed happy go lucky. I imagine my ex-husband would have enjoyed me had I stayed a loving wife and partner. I imagine my kids hope I will remain a loving mom. I plan to. A life-coach once told me that when one is moving forward with change, family is often the last to support the evolution. Family defines you as you were, and accepting your growth or change has implications for them. I agree that it can be difficult, and distance can grow where there once was closeness. It takes work to stay mutually connected, known, understood, accepted, and loved.
Some of those roles I describe above on my timeline, I lived as if mutually exclusive. I didn't always express what I wanted, giving in, instead, to my awareness that the circumstance was temporary; I could acquiesce for a bit longer, but not forever. Yet no one around me knew I was acquiescing: how could they?
The Myers-Brings type I mention above: some call this type "the Advocate" and some call it "the Counsellor." Both fit. This personality type takes time to get to know others, we question, we are good listeners, we have very good intuition. I, and my type like to help others grow, get to know themselves, and learn and evolve. What many don't know, though, is that we'd like a turn, too.
I said that to my ex-husband at the end of our marriage: "I just always thought I'd get a turn," meaning after years of focusing on his wants and needs and vulnerabilities, there would be reciprocity. He said in response, "Weren't you ever going to learn to say no?" Another one-two-punch, but what a valuable one. He was only saying that it was up to me to have boundaries, to state my case, stake my claim. He was so very right.
It seems natural to want all lessons and all desired change to spring from compassion and love and joy and peace, but for whatever reason, momentum seems to spring from tension instead. Whether it's with myself, far-reaching, or touching a few special hearts, the tension, if observed, acknowledged, and accepted, is a gift that I end up being very grateful for. Buddha notes that the source of pain is craving - we want things to be different than they are, and it sets us up for so much angst. It seems there are 3 options:
Change it, remove myself from it, or accept it with total surrender.