At 46 years old, with my father and stepmother in their 60s and 70s, we are closer in age than we have ever been. I have stopped moving through phases: childhood, adolescence, college, 1st job, 1st child, 1st marriage, 1st divorce, 2nd marriage, no more children, professional identity in flux.
I know what to say when the ubiquitous 1st asked, middle class, middle-aged, cocktail question inserts itself, “What do you do?” I am less and less afraid I will offend the women who stay home. They are more established in their identities too. It’s all a bit less awkward when 15 – 20 years have passed post MBA, MD, PhD, MSW, PsyD and the choice was made to raise kids not career. Money, status (applied like a sticker that bears the name of the current Managing Director, Senior Director, VP, SVP, EVP, of Counsel role, passed to someone else in the family. Moms wear the “actively applying my intelligence and expensive/extensive/excited-with-potential, earning power and change-the-world-ness, graduate education to raising smart, confident, self-aware children” version. It’s its own professional identity.
So me and the parents, we are all, the three of us, just getting older. I remember being eleven and watching On Golden Pond. My mother thought it was brilliant. Not sure it was harmful for me to watch, but not sure it was useful either – above my head, beyond my years kind-of-thing. But then again, maybe it had its role, since now, without being able to remember the details of the movie and who said what to whom, I remember the feeling of child and parent. On golden pond – 2 generations, one coming from the other, looking out side-by-side at the sun on the water, maturing the view to the end of the livelong day.
I remember the significance of art and life confused as father and daughter played father and daughter in the movie. I remember my mother being touched. Using words like “poignant” and “meaningful.” On Golden Pond seemed an answer to a question in her for decades. The movie ended, and there were tears on-screen and in the living room. My youngness thought, “Oh good. This will put that topic away now. She will be better. She will be resolved. Maybe we’ll laugh.” Hopeful, youthful me.
And so now, there she is in a bed. My stepmother in retirement. My father deciding to never retire. (I can’t keep my-HR-self from wondering, with position scarcity and all, if he is keeping some buck from up and coming. Is that mercenary of me?) We are all basically the same age. Middle. We are in the same phase of life. Sort of. We are getting old.
Closer in age then ever before, maybe then ever again, as we golden the view to the end of our livelong day.
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016