At several recent gatherings we have chatted about being "Mom" to teenagers and adults, how often we're the butt of their jokes or their teasing, especially since we bear the load of planning and prepping for major activities.
My family laughs at my need for plans and schedules, the lack of spontaneity that causes me to freeze when some brand-new chore or event lands like a bomb in my carefully plotted calendar. My husband joins the kids in teasing me about my need for advance warning and they all ganged up on me at a dinner in Rome. I joined the joke on myself at first, mellowed by a glass of wine, but eventually grew tired of the sting and threatened to walk home alone.
When I relayed the story to friends, they all had similar examples of being the butt of the joke. "That's just part of a Mom's job," one said.
Another chimed in with a story her next-door neighbor told. "She was at dinner with her adult kids and they teased her for her routines and her long lists. They told her to 'just go with the flow' and she got so angry she shouted 'I AM the f***ing flow!!'"
We chuckled as we strode along the greenbelt, sounding out those words in our head, on our tongues. The rightness struck me at that moment, how my schedules and signups, my plans shaped the daily lives of the kids until now, when they plan their own work and social events. I was the flow, and easy for them to say 'take a break' or 'let it go' when I've been paddling the boat for almost 20 years. Now they will start to understand why it can be difficult to drop plans or miss events, lurch from the plan to the unknown. It will still be easier for them to do as they're each only planning for themselves, but maybe someday they'll understand the plan and love it - as I do - when the plan comes together. They can be their own flow, and I can lay back on the lifeboat and take a rest.