Balancing mothering and daughtering so that the see-saw can bring joy from the bounce rather than a thud seems to be part of mid-life for the sandwich generation I find myself in.
It is not just about biology. I am finding myself surrounded by these moments of mothering and daughtering all around me.
Here is a random sample from the week:
– woman in her 80s at the gym asking me in the showers – What’s an“app” ? and did I know of one to help with memory – as it happened I did thanks to input from a special guest at a Think Tank I’ve been facilitating
– post doctoral daughter asked – Do you know if the Greek word oikumene has any feminist theological implications? – as it happened I did and was able to send through a paper I had prepared covering some part of the topic back in 1992
– biological mother asked – Can you pick me up from hospital? yes of course and I will stay overnight – the value add only a daughter can somehow bring
– Should I apply for this job? from another biological daughter – yes of course, you could do it with your eyes closed
– foster daughter claiming her choice of family by taking a photo with the one man she knows as father to share with their common sister and daughter the bond stronger than DNA – a response to a question long ago – Mum can A come and live with us? Yes of course
– Can I debrief with you – that was an intensive rehearsal? Of course, look forward to your call.
– witness to gasp and cry from a woman in toilet at work who rediscovered her mother’s wedding ring she thought she had lost the day before; uncovered in the crumpled paper towels at the bottom of the waste basket. This event has haunted me all week and the deeper I go into the moment with all its implications the more likely a poem is going to come out – so stay tuned for that one! Thanks for coming to see if I was alright I didn’t mean to alarm you with my shriek.
– Thank you for the wonderful gift of nurturing and being held by the chiropractic treatment. You are welcome my friend, thanks for being on this part of the journey with me. (This was a most marvellous gift I relished receiving this week! And a poem coming on this too!)
– Thank you for sharing your personal stories of loss and grief from abuse of your loved one with an intellectual disability. I will write the submission to the Attorney- General your mothering and witness is like a rock. I think you’re doing a good job for us, you’re a mum so I think you understand, thanks.
All these moments form a heady mix of virtues and vulnerability. Mid-life is teaching me how vulnerabilities are virtues. Letting the layers of the onion peel away. Each layer bringing a deeper potency of flavour and more tears. The wash of the tears cleansing and clarifying and getting to the centre where the essence lies waiting for you.
Learning to give and receive seems to be at the heart of mothering and daughtering and is a great metaphor to help me understand the responsibility and wonder of co-creating, receiving and giving in equal measure. I look for the bounce not the thud on this see-saw and gratefully welcome each time I am on that piece of play equipment going up and down squealing, giggling and sometimes being in rhythm and sometimes not.