Original Artwork © JulieCox, 2008
I have heard many people talk about the remarkable transition of a parent to a grandparent. Formerly strict disciplinarians gleefully dole out ice cream and candy, reveling in providing what they were inclined to deny before. With the consequences for indulgence diminished or deferred, they can give without limits and receive adoration in return.
In the middle of this relationship, of course, is the grandparents child and the childs parent - me, in the unenviable position of denying not only the child as the receiver but the grandparent as the giver. I am frustrated by the childs demands and my parents overindulgence, which only makes the job of parenting my child harder. I am guilt-ridden by having to be the one to say no, and doubt my own standards and rules in the face of so much opposition. So many needs and desires working at odds with each other.
Magical work is about will. The direction of energy, spiritual intention, a focused mind combined with material elements and physical manifestation through motion, symbol, language, rite. But the waters get murky when other wills enter the mix. Can I really call myself "solitary" when Im never alone? My husband works with me, in every sense of the word, and in that I am extremely fortunate. But my child works against me - not only for candy but for freedom, for expression and action, for the sheer joy of conflict.
And my mother works against me. Not that she would ever call it that, of course. Its little things, really. The ice cream and indulgences I dont mind, even though they escalate while we try to cut back on sweets. Its a grandparents prerogative to dole out sweets, so long as its done out of love and with moderation. But what about consistent undermining? I say he cant have something - say a chocolate before dinner - and she gives it to him anyway. I say we have to leave; she gets him started on some involved activity, or starts a movie. I lay down a law, she looks for exceptions. I point out a flaw in his behavior, she points out a flaw in mine that is theoretically causing my childs behavior.
This is not me griping, though it may look like it. I am genuinely concerned for my place in the relationship between my child and my parent, especially in a metaphysical sense. The spirit follows the action, in other words. What happens when her will pulls in the opposite direction as mine? She may not understand or actively work magic, but her intention flows into the world and into my Work whether she thinks of it like that or not. I am sure mine is not a unique problem. Every mother-daughter relationship has its flaws, and this is certainly not the only flaw in ours, but it is the most pressing because it concerns the mental and spiritual health of my child. Shouldnt he follow my will, my intentions? Or is it good for him to see that mine is not the only way, and that the world sometimes does bend to his will, with the help of Grammy?
I dont want to push her away. She is a powerful force, and he is fortunate to have her in his life. More to the point, I am fortunate to have her in my life. Who is there to take my children when I wake up sick some idle Tuesday? Grammy. Who will cuddle with them and play with them while I frantically clean up my house before a baby shower? Grammy. Who will come to their soccer games, their recitals, graduations and weddings? Grammy. Who will be there when their bones or hearts or cars are broken? Grammy. So whats a little work against Mom in the meantime?
Here then is my goal, because I dont approve of presenting a problem without looking for a solution. I must bring her round to my side. I might not be the powerful thunderstorm that is my mother, but I can outmatch her in stamina if not sheer force. I will work on my own communication skills. I will talk with her with more joy and less disapproval. I wont even notice the little things she tries to slip by me, because really, theyre not of any consequence in the long run. And after all, Im his mother, not her; when the chips are down, its me hes going to be crying for.
More than anything else, I will show them both more love and understanding. If were putting out this much energy working against each other, think what we could do together. One of these days, it will be glorious. It will be good. And my mother will be not only my parent, my childs grandmother, but my friend. I look forward to that day, and I imagine so does she.
About the Author: Julie Cox is a new pagan writer and artist who lives with her two young children and husband in Texas. She carries degrees in both Art and Religion. To see more of Julie's artwork go to Shopping and Art gallery on our main menu.