Even when I was in high school, long before I was a mother, I had strong mothering instincts. Some of my friends would tease and call me Mom when I showed concern. I really didn’t think I was over the top about it all. I just cared about my friends. I guess it reflects the fact that while it might take me a very long time to finally “friend” someone, I stay friends forever. So those friends from high school—one of them posted a message on Facebook earlier this week informing his followers that he was on a mission trip in Nicaragua, was bit by a stray dog, and had eight puncture wounds and a laceration on his leg. He went on to write how he tried in vain to find a medical “facility” and that he ended up in a “clinic” where the nurse gave him a tetanus shot and told him to go home to the States and get to a doctor.
Fortunately for my friend, he was headed home anyway but not for a couple of days. He managed to get some antibiotics and made a call stateside and was told by his regular doctor to go to the ER immediately upon landing in the U.S. His Facebook posting tonight says he’s halfway home. What is the proper protocol for something like that? I added him to my list of prayers, offered to make a phone call if he needed that, and sat back for updates. Nothing more I could do. But he’s been on my mind. He’s a single guy, on solitary mission work in an area of extreme poverty, thousands of miles from home. He’s a friend. And I care. Hard to let go of that.
In contrast to that scenario, I’m trying in vain to mother my 19-year-old daughter who has decided to officially drop out of high school and who wants nothing to do with me when I act as her mother. And I’m struggling painfully to be a wife to my husband who really wants a personal assistant who will cook his meals, do his laundry—essentially be a mother to him (but don’t anyone call it that!!). Perhaps the better and more acceptable term is wife-ing.
My daughter and my husband. I love them. And yet, I need to let go. I have no more control over my 19-year-old than I do my 60-something husband. In a moment of extreme frustration my daughter will yell at me and tell me she was in my life first and I should love her more, which translates to “give me everything I want as soon as I want it and don’t make me work for it.” When my husband is at his worst, he yells at me to take a stand, kick my daughter out on the street, and by the way get on with making his supper. Oh, and he’s out of clean socks.
Mothering instincts, by nature, are incredibly strong and cannot be stilled. The real challenge is in learning how to turn and twist and deflect all that mothering in such a way as to mother my self. It is long past time. And yes, easier said than done.
Some days I feel the challenge is as difficult as trying to reroute the great Mississippi river. Today is one such day.