We had plans to have dinner with friends last Friday night. They canceled. Their son asked them to babysit his 9-year-old twins.
Paterfamilias watches the football game every Sunday with his friend Lance. This Saturday Lance called to say he couldn't make it: He and his wife were invited to have lunch with their daughter and her family. Understood. Family takes precedence. On Sunday morning the friend called again. The daughter changed the invite to an early dinner. Game On!
This weekend, we were supposed to see friends whose work schedules even in semi-retirement are so complicated it took us weeks to figure out a date when we were all available. We canceled the get-together yesterday. Our son, who lives in a city far from us, suggested this weekend was the best one for us to come visit him and his family. When we emailed our friends to tell them we had to reschedule, they were nonplussed. "We understand completely," they wrote. "[Our son] wields the same power over our schedule."
So the pendulum swings. When our children were young they marched to the needs of our appointments, meetings and business trips. Now we adjust to theirs. In part it's because their lives are more complicated than ours--they are the ones juggling high-pressure careers, children's activities and social obligations. We're retired or our careers are on a less active plane; our social obligations less obligatory. We are able to be more flexible and adjust to a request for a last-minute babysitting assist. What's more important than helping out our kids?
But it's more than that. They have always been our priority but right now, as they raise families and come into the prime of their careers, we aren't their priority. So we fit ourselves into that new dynamic.
There's another reality. Our grown children are the access to our grandchildren. Case closed.