There are times when that song from my childhood, Cats in the Cradle, just streams through my head:
Cats in the Cradle and a Silver Spoon,
Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon,
When're you coming home Dad, I don't know when,
But we'll get together then son,
you know we'll have a good time then....
I suppose in many ways I'm living my life accordingly. Sensitive to the theme of this song, that the father who prioritized his work and had little time for his son, reaps his just rewards in that his son has little time for him in his old age, and hoping to avoid its message in my own family entourage.
Life is a cycle, or at least, I believe it is so. What goes around comes around. What we put into motion ever so unconsciously, can come back to catch us.
I felt this cycle in a strange way during these holidays. I went for a walk with my mother, and for the first time perhaps ever, she walked more slowly than I, frightened of slipping and falling in the icy snow. Mostly, I was able to slow down and walk at her speed, but I felt myself resisting, frustrated, and yes, a bit resentful. Why?
Scenes of my childhood when she was always in a hurry, out the door before me, honking the car, ahead of me by a few yards, urging impatiently for me to catch up, rarely waiting till I was actually ready... No, it wasn't all the time, but enough that the impression has stuck.
I see as well my grandmother ten yards (or ten minutes) ahead of my grandfather, abandoning him as she strode strongly along while he trailed behind hobbled by weak legs. Was it so important to arrive minutes before the other?
I want to stop this. I don't want to be the impatient mom always urging her kids along.
And yet, I have been thus. I remember countless times zooming across Arles with Leo in tow -- thankfully, he was able to keep up most of the time, especially with his hand in mine. But when we had a friend of his with us, one who was far more dreamy and slow, inspecting every crack in the sidewalk, every piece of paper on the ground (no matter the cars that nearly toppled him over!), I would go, admittedly, rather batty. I have even thanked the stars that I've a son like Leo who can keep up. If I'd had a child like his poor friend no doubt it would have been torture for us both.
And so, how to stop this? Well, I'm trying. I'm making moves in this direction. We walk hand in hand, or if not, I look back when they dawdle, and stop when I sense they've fallen behind. Then simply, during those precious times when the clock isn't weighing upon me, I stand and smile as I wait for them to catch up -- rather than urging and berating and tapping a foot, or worse, heading off alone expecting them to keep up ...
It will come.