Keeping Track of Ma

As part of their steps toward independence, when my kids began middle school we bought a family plan and gave them cell phones.  If my son was out wandering the neighborhood with his buddies, I could call him home for dinner. When my daughter was shopping at the mall, she could let me know which store she was in. On days either of them decided to stay after school, they could text me so I wouldn’t worry when they didn’t get off the bus. Once I  received a call from my son for a minor bike accident. He had been trail riding and banged up his bike. He was okay but his frame was bent and he needed me to pick him up. Overall, the plan has been a good investment.  I have the peace of mind in knowing where my kids are and they have been good about checking in.

When I was growing up, my parents insisted on checking in. They called it “Courtesy”. To this day, whenever any of my family (sisters or parents) is travelling, we remember to let each other know we have returned home safely. Now, instead of placing a call, we simply send a text message [smooth trip. back home.xoxo] With her new iPhone, Mom has really gotten into texting. She is in charge of relaying messages from other family members [Heard from ____.  All good] Anyway, the point is we all look out for each other and like to get our “courtesy”.

These days, I am not focusing so much on the kids as on my mother-in-law. Ma was widowed just over a year ago. After 56 years of marriage, she is slowly adjusting to life on her own. She has always been very independent, but now that she is alone we are trying to keep in closer touch. She likes to know where we are so now we are re-conditioning her to extend a “courtesy” to us. This has not been easy since she has never felt accountable before;  it is not her instinct to check in with us, since we are the children. She loves to travel and we are happy that she is comfortable doing so. We have convinced her to send us her itineraries and let us know when she arrives at her destination.

We have worked out a reasonable plan which includes a courtesy call, with updates during extended trips. Because we have her contact information if we need to reach her, we are not letting ourselves worry.  We just hope she is having fun and expect to hear all about her adventures when she returns home. This has been a big adjustment and the role reversal is actually humorous. Some days I joke with her that it is like keeping track of another teenager, one who has just graduated and moved out. Enjoy your independence, Ma, but always remember to do your “courtesy”. I am sure I will be saying the same thing to my kids in a few years.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:32:11

    Sometimes we can be hard to train, those of us who have spent our lives being responsible for others, for often putting ourselves last in the list of priorities. Sometimes the freedom to put ourselves first, to follow our whims, makes us forget that little courtesy.

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