What’s a Matriarch To Do?

I am ahead of her on the wrinkles.

My mother died at the healthy age of 96, leaving the title of Matriarch to me as the oldest daughter. “Matriarch” elicits visions of Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham of Downton Abbey fame. When Violet enters a home, staff and family come to attention. Hmmm. What am I doing wrong?

Our revolving door began spinning a few days ago as family and friends descended for the holidays. In the midst of the chaos I found time to contemplate my quickly changing role.

Mike and I had dreams of raising independent, healthy children. We succeeded. We are truly thankful to have escaped the horror of drug addictions and senseless accidents. (Wipe away that image of escapade-free children: there was enough for us to breathe a sigh of relief as they survived to adulthood).

House sharing erases the need to plan holiday menus, or even make a dish to share. ED’s love of hosting takes care of that with me serving as sous chef. Activities are arranged via YD’s penchant for time management (filling every minute). Even C-Boy and P-DiL demonstrate successful transition to adulthood by arranging their own homecoming with friends and family. The need to offer advice is rare.

I reminisce on my own transition out of the family home and realize that it was similar. All of us then living out of town, we kids descended on the house with our own plans for the holidays. Other than the family meals, we united with our siblings and friends most of the time, leaving the parents to their own devices.

The exacerbation of introversion propels me to the quiet of my room or the declining of invitations. Sharing a household negates the need to extend a private invitation to a quiet brunch or offer a special dish for the family dinner. Being in the boys’ lives 24/7 diminishes the excitement of rare visits.

As I hug YD good-bye, I feel the soft curly hair of a three-year-old. The kiss on ED’s cheek recalls my “cuddly baby”. “I’m glad you’re my mom” reverberates in my ears even as I feel the stubble of C-Boy’s chin.

My kids have grown up into perfect adults; I couldn’t be happier?

Author: Mary Cornelius

I am an aging woman who writes three blogs.

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