Saturday, February 23, 2008


I've never told my family I write this blog, not because I'm ashamed of what I'm writing -- I'm actually often quite pleased and wouldn't mind having them see it. It's just that I felt I could write more freely if I didn't feel I needed to censor my thoughts.

The funny thing is, though, that if I did tell them about it, I'm almost sure they'd never read it anyway. They know where my writing and personal websites are, and I still have to direct them to them whenever I post something new. I don't think the subjects on here would interest them, even coming from a daughter/sister/in-law/whatever.

I was thinking today of the time when I crossed from being a child in my mother's eyes to being an adult. And, yet, it's not like I became a peer, or at least not in all ways.

(Caveat: I hate to pick on my mother, because she's a wise and wonderful person, but the mother-daughter relationship is so loaded, and it really makes for the best examples.)

It was in college that she began telling me things she'd have hidden from me before. I don't know if there was a specific day she woke up and decided I was an adult, or if it was a process, but to me it was sudden and surprising that she started letting me in on the scandals in the family and, on a more mundane level, filling our phone conversations with all the details of her week, such as what was going on at work and church. It doesn't sound like much, but as a child, anything in the adult world "didn't concern" me, to use her phrase. (Often I was quite concerned, but she was the one who got to decide.)

What was missing from these newly minted adult-to-adult conversations was...conversation.

My relationship with my mother had changed from a parent-child monologue where the child gets to blab and everything's about the child -- What did you do in school today? What do you want for dinner? How was playing with your friend? -- and conversation about anything interesting is reserved for other adults. It is now a parent-adult child monologue where the parent gets all the lines and my mother no longer has to feign interest in all the details of my boring life and can instead unload hers. She never asks any questions about my life -- no, seriously -- and if I try to say what's going on with me, there's silence and then an "Unh-huh, well, that's all the news here, and we're going to bed. Bye!" She could never be so dismissive with an adult peer, but I guess with a daughter it's allowed.

As a related story, Sam wrote many insightful articles on spiritual matters that were published online. He transferred all of the links to his own website, in case looking them up individually would be too difficult. He directed his parents to the list, and they never read one, saying they preferred not to read things online. So Sam printed them all out, each and every one, and bound them in a folder and presented the collection as a Christmas gift. It was promptly lost. Sometimes Sam worries that his parents won't be happy with some idea or another he's written, but then he's consoled (sorta kinda) with the knowledge that they've never read a word.

See, this is why I don't want family to know I blog!

Again, though, not trashing anyone, just musing -- why the lack of interest in our life as adults? Is it one of those things where I've halted at some particular phase of development in my parents' eyes (10 years old? 14? 20?) and now my life, for their purposes, is over, and anything I do or say or believe that doesn't fit that perception is too bewildering to contemplate?

Because I run into that myself with my much younger brother. I was thinking how his girlfriend, who's younger than he is, couldn't really have been young enough to be a child when a particular children's song was popular (because that means I'm old, dang it) -- when I know full well that it was a popular song when my little brother was a baby. But, see, to me he's still a little kid (9 instead of 22), whereas to me she's always been an adult.

I wonder how this will play out with Mikko. Will I allow him to keep growing and changing and acknowledge those changes? Will I see him as he really is by moment and year, or will I see him as I want to perceive him? Is it an unavoidable consequence of caring for a young one, or is it possible to be intentional and ever create a new relationship with that evolving person?

Can you guess I don't have the answers yet?

Sometimes I worry that my parents will stumble across this blog anyway, but then I have to laugh. As if they'd ever be curious enough to search!

If you find this, family & old friends, here's the code phrase to let me know you read this far: Walrus Monkeys.


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