A long time ago when I was working as an actress my husband and my two children (aged three and six or thereabouts) visited me at the rehearsal room. The play was challenging, and another actor was playing my husband. The actor’s comment after they left was “you have a real life don’t you?” He had been surprised to meet my family because once in rehearsal, the group of actors became my family. He was my husband and together we had to act a tenderness even though by the end of the play we had broken apart from each other.
It was a comment that lived with me. The father of a friend of mine who works in the movie industry now discovers the work has stopped and he is completely unprepared for the real life he must now live. He has worked hard all his career, been successful, but today is hyper-anxious and finds himself isolated and lonely. Since writing the book Time to Live looking at dying and death, I recognised my final wishes would not be that I spent more time at my place of work, or even my writing. Rather, I would want to see the beloved faces of my children, my husband, grandchildren, and friends. Recognising that brings a great perspective to the everyday choices of living life.
My relationships gained greater focus. These are a few things I have taken on board in my attempt to sustain and enhance my connections with my adult children.
Be Accommodating – often when you least feel like it somebody wants something
Non-judgemental – with my grown-up children the requirement is that I say nothing. As a mother I was always teaching, now I am required to zip my mouth
Listening – being available, often at a difficult time. The rewards are great.
Trustworthy – don’t undermine their wishes. For example implementing whatever regime they as parents want to sustain with their children.
Allowing an adult to adult relationship to blossom – which means accepting and respecting the person they have become and are becoming.
Love whom they love – no question or debate about this. Learn, change, but love their partners whatever. Be family, love and accept each other.
Commitment to relationship– this means the things important to me at times can and must wait.
Caring for myself in all of this and making sound decisions. However I would rather be a ‘yes’ person overall so my ‘no’ is rare.