Randi Kreiss

A slight tilt in the mother-child balancing act


It wasn’t easy to pull off, but last week I met my son and daughter for a mother-and-child reunion in Boulder, Colo. It was the first time since they grew up and moved out that the three of us have been together for four days, just for fun. No mitzvahs, no turkeys, no interventions. Just fun.

My takeaway? Big picture, they’ve turned out OK. You’ll have to ask them how I’ve turned out. Not that the purpose of the getaway was to do an evaluation, now that they’re 40-somethings. The idea was, well, we really didn’t have an idea. I suggested the outing, they both wanted in, and we made a plan six months ago to meet in Boulder from our various home states in far-flung parts of the country.

We couldn’t have done it without our partners, who stepped up to watch elders, dogs, kids and businesses. Yeah, they were probably ticked off. In fact, some of my friends thought it “not right” for me to offer a holiday to my kids and not their spouses.

I disagree.

I have great in-law kids, but my son and daughter are the only human beings on earth who once lived inside my body. Not that they want to dwell on that, but our original bond confers maternal prerogatives. Now that they’re fully autonomous adults, I wanted to see, without any distractions, how they have evolved since the best free ride of all time.

The years pass too quickly. I wanted a moment to reconnect and be together with my kids without family “business” getting in the way. With phones and time changes and distance between and among us, we hardly ever finish a conversation. This was a chance to talk. We are more or less equal in the world these days; I don’t have to take care of them, and they don’t have to take care of me.

It was a holiday — from their jobs and mine, from monitoring homework, from elder care and from our usual expectations of one another. In every family, people generally fall back to playing their parts: the easygoing one, the stressed one, the forgetful one, and so on. Over these four days, we came together as three adults who love to hike, bike, try new foods, talk about movies and TV and books and life in a new city.

Also as three adults, two of whom have lived inside the body of the third. OK, I won’t go there again.

We did a little talking about family issues, but probably less than our spouses imagined. Mostly we just had a really good time together.

Who knew they were so funny? When I see them every few months, they’re usually up to their eyeballs in work and child care. On this vacation, they were, as they would say, chill. They didn’t treat me like their mom, which was a good thing. They picked up checks. They even walked ahead on the hiking trail when I promised not to get eaten by a mountain lion.

Of course, some things don’t change. Five minutes before walking out the door to dinner, my son will say he’s “jumping into the shower.” It’s a family joke by now, but that’s because it is what he does, and he comes by it honestly; my dad did the same thing for 97 years. For my daughter, her personal exercise and yoga schedule are the holy grail. She also insists on getting to the airport at the last minute, which presses my anxiety buttons.

Apparently, I’m still the neurotic woman they grew up with. They think I get very impatient waiting — for anything. But that’s just because I do. And I did freak out heading to the airport, because I was sure I’d miss my flight. And I did shake out the sheets after I heard about Colorado’s brown recluse spiders. And I will insist until the day I die that I had the right to call the police when my son was an hour and a half late coming back from a mountain bike ride. How could I know his cell phone ran out of juice?

In a slight tilting of the mother-child balance, my son apologized for making me worry. My daughter helped me navigate through the airport so I’d make my flight.

We change, and yet we don’t. We grow up and older. They are in the fullness of their lives, and I have more years behind me than ahead. Not being maudlin, just real.

All the more reason to seize the day, or a few days, to get to know the people we’ve become.

Copyright © 2017 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.