Monday, November 23, 2009

For mercy's sake, will somebody please yell, "Cut!"?

One of the great maxims of life is this: People like people who are like themselves.
I see people like me all the time—in the elevator, in the hallways, in the parking lot.

They are the daughters of the mothers who live in this complex.

They come in all shapes and sizes and colors, but they are just like me. Their faces are a strange mixture of apprehension and fatigue and concern.

And they sound just like me
“Are you warm enough, Mom?”
“Wait, I’ll get the car. I have some junk In the back, though, that I’ll have to clear to get your wheelchair/walker/cane in.”
“Yes, it’s lovely out. Isn’t it? I mean, it’s just beautiful. Good day to go out, don’t you think? I said GOOD DAY TO GO OUT, DON’T YOU THINK?”

We have the same vocabulary. We’re mostly the same age. We drive the same car (mostly Priuses or mid-size SUVs), we have the same cell phones.

So if people like people who are like themselves, why don’t I like them?

Because they remind me too much of what I’ve become. I am the helicopter parent—not hovering over my children, but hovering over my parent and not always as gracious as I should be.

Once, on the long elevator ride downstairs, I said to a daughter, “Is your mom in here? How’s she doing?” (“Yes. OK.”)
“You know,” I said, “we really ought to have some sort of group for us daughters.”
She looked up at me, and her eyes flashed. “Who has time?” she snapped.
I smiled and said, “Good point.”
The woman was rude. I’m a serial overreactor, but for once, I wasn’t offended because I knew it wasn’t really lack of time that ticked her off. And it’s not a matter of who has energy. Or even who has patience.

It’s a matter of who has answers, and the answer to that is that none of us does.
Putting on a brave front has turned us into a bunch of bad actors with bad attitude.
If we had an award for Best Performance by a Daughter Who Doesn't Think Old Age Is a Complete Disaster, I couldn't think of one nominee.

Could you?