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TMCNet:  When mother and adult son collaborate on new year's resolutions, the word 'boundaries' is bound to come up

[December 31, 2012]

When mother and adult son collaborate on new year's resolutions, the word 'boundaries' is bound to come up

Dec 31, 2012 (McClatchy-Tribune News Service - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- Given that my first child has been out of the house for two years, given that I'm still trying to figure out the constantly changing boundaries between us, given that I already quit sugar, lost 25 pounds and learned to meditate, I decided to ask this eldest child to write resolutions with me this year.

He came up with a few while he was home for Christmas.

At which point I wrote some for him.

His: _I vow that if my mom puts floss in my Christmas stocking again next year, she will refrain from suggesting I keep it on my bedside table as a reminder. I am 24. I can figure out my own floss schedule. If I have one at all.

_I vow that if my mom wants to Skype with me once a week, she will tell me, instead of calling me on a Friday morning as I'm headed to work, saying she never knows when is a good time to call, at which point I have to tell her "I can't talk" and "No, you're not bothering me." Even though she kind of is.

_I vow that my mom will not panic if I don't text her right back or if I fail to post for a few days on Facebook. My lack of communication does not automatically mean I've been kidnapped, hit by a bus, or drowned in beer. It may just mean I have boundaries.

_I vow that when I come home for visits, my mom will already know I don't need a home-cooked meal every night. That what I might need, even several nights in a row, is Chipotle's with friends.

_Likewise when I am home, I vow that my mom will know I don't necessarily want or need serious discussion about my career, my love life or my social network. More than anything, I need light and easy. I need family games around the table, snowball fights with my brother and stupid movies in the basement. I also need rest _ lots and lots of opportunities to sleep in my own bed in my own room.

_On the other hand, I vow that my mom will know that time with family still means everything to me. That she will cease being so self-sacrificing with her "Even if you move to Singapore, as long as you're happy, I will be happy." That she will believe me when I tell her that what I really like hearing is: "I would love for you to live right next door forever." My resolutions for my son, meanwhile: _I vow that my son will always be honest and direct with me, that he will tell me exactly what he needs and that if he doesn't know what he needs because he's in the middle of his perplexing twenties, that he will be patient with me. Because if he doesn't know what he needs, chances are I won't either.

_I vow that my son will go gently with me in general, as I work very hard to continue being his mother while also respecting his growing need for independence. That my son will remember that being the eldest comes with certain responsibilities, including being the first one for his mother to try to let go of with elegance and grace, without crumpling in the floor and sobbing like the day he graduated from high school.

_I vow that my son will remember that, when all is said and done, I am still, and always will be, his mother. That whether he is 24 or 8 or 84 or 12, living at home or in Singapore or on Venus, I will be inclined to take care of him. That I don't mean to be over-bearing or over-analytical or over-anything he doesn't want. That things could be worse. That my friend, who is 50, said her mother called her three times today because she hadn't heard from her for 24 hours. That I promise to not only listen for the nuances of this long-term, so important, so rewarding relationship in my life. But to hear. That he promises to do the same.

Happy new year to all mothers and their children, of all ages, of all persuasions, everywhere. May your boundaries be ever clear.

___ Contact Debra-Lynn B. Hook of Kent, Ohio (, at or join her Facebook group:

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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