Ignored by adult children: The stops and starts

ignored by adult children

Ignored by adult children: The stops and starts

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

I stand at the window. Another day of cold and rain. Even snow is expected tonight. My mind wanders to the flower seeds and bulbs I purchased last week during two days of sunny, springlike weather. Those days had been a gift. And now they’re gone. Spring weather snatched back by the bony hand of winter’s grip.

Outside, in the distance, the wind whips at the neighbor’s brittle Eucalyptus trees. One day those closest to the fence we share will break like the trees that used to separate his property from his neighbor’s to the south. The carved rounds now lay in mountainous piles at the side of his house. Some grow moss. Others rise in wispy chimney trails that disintegrate into the dull gray sky. If only the Eucalyptus had been tended to. Trees need care.

Irritated, I turn from the window, my shoulders slumped under the weighty wool of another stormy day. “Will it ever end?” I ask my pitch black dog, Marilyn.

She wags and, when I open the door, she leaps out into the cold and misty morning air. If only I could be so glad. Another day to live, happily, despite the gloomy weather.

Feeling brittle myself, I go to the sack from the nursery and pull out the seed packets. The colorful pictures of zinnias, cosmos, and showy milkweed lift my spirits.

Ignored by adult children: Back at the window

Watching my dog romp through the green-green grass, her thick black fur clotting with falling rain, I remind myself that sunshine will return. As a native San Diegan, I’m not yet used to the more distinct seasons of this Sierra Foothills home. In a way, this late winter period reminds me of the early daze of estrangement from my son. For the first couple of years, I would get myself in order, be moving ahead, aware of the “sunlight” that still existed in my life and, that through my own intention, action, and focus, I could even generate, cultivate, and renew. And then a storm would hit, and the tender shoots of hope would wither. I’d be snatched back toward the pain.

The rhythm

Spring comes in fits and starts. It’s the same with other seasons. Spring rains alternate with fog and sunshine before settling into sauna-hot days. Summer then folds into fall with early storms that clear back to blazing heat before breezy days build to leaf-plucking winds, and the pelting hail or snow of winter’s grip.

It’s natural to move in fits and starts. A baby learns to walk while gripping at a table, falling, and getting up again before walking freely. Plants grow in stages, stopping to rest and gather nourishment, even in a single season. It’s nature’s way. Why then, when something as tumultuous as estrangement occurs, do we expect to immediately cope?


I look out again. Against the dreary backdrop, the grass is bright. A dusting of early red maple blooms swept off in the storm litter the brilliant green. Sparks of color. The promise of spring.

My dog paws at a shallow patch of dirt and then bends to eat the soil. What is it about this earth here? Even my tiny teacup poodle paws and gnaws at this magic dirt.  I go to the door and open it a crack. I patiently wait as my dog’s gaze follows a bird into the tree. She looks back at me and wags. Finally, she steps toward me but stops, shaking the rain from her thick black coat. She sniffs the air, savoring the moment.

I actually love it here, I realize. Wild turkeys are a daily encounter. Deer graze and gaze with enchanting curiosity. And elusive birds like the Northern flicker drill the wet ground in plentiful flocks. There’s something to say for this season that settles in like sleepy day. One that always lasts too long but reminds me to rest as I anticipate the spring I long for but is impossible to force.

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8 thoughts on “Ignored by adult children: The stops and starts

  1. OnceAMomAlwaysAMom

    Lovely post. I got an older, blind terrier dog last summer. It was a stupid thing to do (I’ve been told) since I’m getting well into my senior life. But I have to say, that little creature has done so much to lift my spirits. We HAVE to go for walks and that has gotten me out of my house and my train of thought and into the natural world around us. It has been a different kind of healing and unexpected. I got the little dog because my husband is going through serious health issues and, honestly, I became very afraid that I would be left all alone. Knowing I have this little creature to focus on keeps my thoughts and feelings more “here and now” and balanced. I have enjoyed this spring more than any in many many years. God is good and I am so very grateful for your insights, Sheri. Thank you for your many mercies over these past years!

    1. Kate

      I agree. For me, my pets keep me moving because they need some care & attention from me each day. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t even get out of bed on some days. (Mine were strays that other people had dumped out here on the highway). Also, they help me to think about something else other than the people who dumped me years ago.
      And no, it wasn’t a stupid thing for you to do. You helped a sweet little dog to have a better life and you’re helping yourself too. And that’s a good thing!
      Please take care

  2. Anonymous

    We hosted our grandsons birthday today at a local indoor pool and his mother, my daughter, absolutely refused to attend. I was feeling a little blue and lacking energy. The sun wasn’t out and I was tired. I took my St John’s Wort and took a breath and dove in (see what I did there?) It turned out to be a super fun day and there was Zero Drama. Something I do not miss. Gos bless All

  3. Carma

    Thanks for this post, Sheri, I found these words very relatable.

    I too have moved from a warmer place to a cooler place, I also sometimes stare out the window in winter and wonder if it will ever get warm again!
    It has taken my nearly 4 years but I am learning to appreciate this place and the uniqueness of it. A few weeks ago I saw an Australian Lyre Bird sitting on my back fence in the drizzle and mist. These birds are notoriously shy and sense danger quickly and disappear. They are only found in national parks and areas that have not been developed. The bird however sat on my fence looking into the bush for maybe 10 minutes before finally moving on. I think it felt my presense and maybe knew I meant no harm. I suspect I will never see that type of bird again that close to my house here or elswhere. It was a magical moment.
    So my partner and I, while we did put our house up for sale recently, changed our minds and have decided to stay put. For some reason now, I see more beauty in this place (even in winter) and don’t seem to get as frustrated with the small annoyances. I have accepted this place for what is and have looked for the beauty in it. It was there all along, I was just too focused on moving on to see it.
    So for me, this story, pulls me into my stops and starts with my AC children. I have longed for a closer relationship and got frustrated and angry by the type of relationship that they offered me, if any at all. Now though I accept the circumstances I have been given and the choices they have chosen and turn to other ways to make life fulfulling. So like my house in a cooler climate, I have stopped trying to change things, make it better and stepped back to enjoy what I have.
    For me now, autum has well and truly started and winter is fast approaching but winter here, I now realise, brings special moments too, from native plants that only flower in winter (bright purple) to the joy of homemade soups and fireplaces burning all day long. Oh and hopping in a 40c spa when its 2c outside but I had to learn to find the joy in winter, just like I am learning to find joy in my life now despite estrangement.

  4. Lynne G.

    I like all your thoughts about spring. I do not remember, ever in my life, looking forward to spring like I do this year. Through many years of having estranged adult children I know I have learned to Focus on blessings in my life. Spring is a new beginning to leave the past and old man winter behind. Hoping for a beautiful spring for all estranged parents.

  5. Elizabeth

    Your place sounds lovely (well aside from the eyesore neighbors…maybe you can plant some trees to shield yourself from that view…or some kind of fence with things growing alongside it…any rate, we are mostly indoors here…the criminals upstairs and in the other nearby apts have stolen most of the joy we could get outside…but we run errands and enjoy the countryside when we can and we do what we can indoors to help us forget the outside. I have not yet found a reasonably priced place with the handicapped bath and other needs my husband has…so I view this place as totally temporary. It takes WORK to get to some places in life. While we are not completely ignored, we see very little of our son’s family and not much of him either. But again, as old as we are…for sure, all temporary. One thing that was hard when it happened, was loosing several early pregnancies…but we fully anticipate being with those children in the next life and getting to know them…so sometimes we ponder on that…is was sad when it happened years ago, but now? Oh how much we look forward to being with THOSE children we lost…whoever knew we would feel this way? Thanks again Sheri for all you do to share…it is a help to so many of us!!

  6. Serenity

    Reading through Beautiful Sheri’s post this afternoon…and again this evening…I could relate to the feeling of waiting for Spring…And to how it related to estrangement…
    I love the heading “Resist”…with letters crossed out to spell Rest”…As I too am feeling what is often referred to as “Spring Fever”…I feel restless and bound in…After reading the post and the “Rest” heading… I sighed with “Kindred Spirit” understanding…and just eased into the Winter windy & cloudy day in San Diego…I actually had a deep long nap with my Beloved Cat Beauty…As I dozed off…contemplating Beautiful Sheri’s words…I thought of the “seeds” she spoke of…Relating to having something to look forward to…And Life & Nature’s way…Change…Stops & Starts…
    Transformation Eternally Taking Place Within The Invisible…
    Also contemplating Beautiful Sheri’s neighbor’s neglected Eucalyptus trees…Thinking and relating that I would “Mindfully” tend to the Changes & Growth Within Myself…and not allow MySelf to fall apart and wither away…My Heart is with the Beloved Eucalyptus trees…They Inspire me with Meaning & Purpose…To Appreciate & Be Grateful for this Beautiful Precious Life & World…To focus on Loving & Tending to what is mine to Love & Tend to…As each season comes & goes…
    After the long restful nap I looked at the calendar…The paradox & change of it all…Tomorrow is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time once again…The 1st Day of Spring is March 19th…just days away…
    So Beautiful Sheri…& Each of You…Spring is almost here!!! New Life…New Growth…Change…We’re in this together…
    In Friendship & Gratitude…


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