A Position Change
There are times in our lives that become potent turning points once the integration of the experience is completed.
My youngest daughter, Sara, and my almost 2-year-old granddaughter, Aroha, came for a much-anticipated visit that started in January and lasted almost six weeks. This is the longest amount of time I’ve had with her since she left for college in 1998.
She is currently doing humanitarian work abroad with her husband. Before becoming a mother, she lived and worked in New Zealand.
I made two trips to visit her when she lived in Wellington, but once she took up her new pursuits, she was living in Indonesia and then Pakistan doing aid work and her surroundings weren’t conducive to visits. Our main way of communicating has been through Skype.
This visit brought me a patchwork quilt of emotions ranging from high to low and back again.
It is a heartwarming experience to see my daughter embracing the responsibilities of being a mother and doing it with such a natural and joyful attitude. It is obvious that she loves the experience, was ready for it when it came, and gets great joy from her daughter who is blossoming under her watchful and alert care.
My baby has a baby. The last time Sara lived with me, I was the mother and she was the child. The gap between then and now has been filled with so many life experiences each of us have had that I found myself not quite sure of what Sara’s values are and how she wants to be treated.
She has been exposed to many different cultures that I have no real understanding of and so in some ways we are strangers and in others we are as we’ve always been.
Aroha has been on 40 planes since her birth. Her safety and security resides totally in the hands of her parents and that bond is extremely strong. I am so glad to see that since, as a direct result, she is a happy, healthy, busy, curious and extremely active little one who owned this house in a matter of days. Besides her ability to adapt, she has an amazing sense of humor. We made up a lot of games which, done once, became a part of her repertoire.
What I couldn’t accomplish was the ability to comfort her when she was upset. The only person that could do that job was Sara. That meant that I couldn’t step in and give Sara any meaningful support. She had to be on call 24/7 and as a result, I had to stand by helplessly. It isn’t like Sara was complaining. She seemed to be totally fine on being there and understood that, out of necessity, this is the way it needs to be.
At one point, I had a bit of a meltdown. She responded with surprise and answered that she was happy the way things were and since she was going to be getting on a plane heading to a new assignment without knowing what to expect, she would figure things out when the time came. I realized that my roller-coaster ride of emotions had more to do with the official acknowledgment of the ending of my mothering role.
The best way that I can communicate this fork in the road is by using the word “stand” and all of the different meanings that military language uses to convey changes in positions.
The common definition for stand is: Have or maintain an upright position, supported by one’s feet.
My four daughters are all standing upright in their lives. Check.
Stand by is a verb. It means to be present and also to remain apart or aloof. I have been learning to stand by as my girls take responsibility and authority for the lives they are creating. Check.
Stand down means to go off duty, to withdraw from a position of leadership or a state of alert readiness. It is also used when you are removed from active duty.
I see that it is time for me to officially stand down and at the same time increase my admiration and appreciation of how loving, competent and capable my daughters have become. Check.
Susan is a local author of “Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind.” Learn more at: susanvelasquez.com.