My brother believes we are responsible for interrupting the isolated life of my 67-year-old mother. His life is established. I am 32 years old, single and still working out major issues like finding a partner and creating my career. None of us lives in the same city, but I live the closest to my mother and enjoy spending time with her on occasion. I just wish that she was not dependent on her children for social contact. She has no hobbies except reading. She has a long-time partner, but they have little in common. I became especially concerned when a friend said my mother looked unhappy. I think that taking on her social life is unhealthy for us. Am I selfish? I will make her happiness a priority some day, but do you believe, as my brother does, that the day to do so has come?
Yes, although not in the way you imagine. You’ve taken an invitation from your brother (we should spend more time with mom) added it to your own opinions (mom’s life seems boring) and inflated those two factors to the tenth power: I’m only a good person if I sacrifice my own pursuit of happiness in order to be mom’s social director. Let me assure you that the day to vacate your own life has not arrived, nor will it ever. So rather than swinging from one sticky thought (I have to give up my own plans) to another (I refuse to give up my own plans), let’s stand on terra firma. You can have a juicy social life and career and tend to your mamasita. Just visit a bit more. If you visit her once a month, just add another day each month. Between visits, clip a cartoon or article that she might enjoy and mail it off. Most importantly, talk to her about your concerns that she is isolated or depressed. Encourage her to talk to her doctor or a professional counselor, if that seems appropriate. Be available to help her make changes to her life, but also respect that she is living the life she has designed. It may not seem boring to her. Remember, too, that your friend’s assessment of your mom (unhappy) might not be correct. Ask and you will receive what she wants you to know.
Your answer to the person who chastised the litterer in your June 13th column trivialized the problem. I guess your view is that littering is so minor that to tell a litterbug what they’re doing is wrong is just a power play. I don’t buy this logic at all. I would hope that when Folsom starts pumping raw sewage into our rivers, somebody will tell them that they are polluting.
For beginners, you can’t buy logic when you’re in debt to your emotions. If you’re emotionally entrenched, it’s impossible to hear or see clearly. I chose to answer one specific question about a situation that was a power play. I never said that littering is minor, etc. Reread the column (www.newsreview.com) and you’ll realize that we’re on the same side. After four years working as a recycling and waste management industry professional and more than 10 years working with my own and other’s emotional waste, I’m certain that behaviors such as littering result from emotional problems borne of and exacerbated by harsh criticism. You simply found an easy target for your pain about Folsom. If you bring that pain home to yourself (What sewage do you dump into the river of life? How do you trivialize what is important to you or to others?) there might be one less polluter on the planet.