I got Mom some ice cream tonight and we sat together while she ate it. As she was enjoying her fudge bar, my cat jumped up on the couch and began wandering over to Mom.
While Mom is increasingly fond of my cat, she prefers not to touch her. She likes the cat on the floor, with a nice distance between her and that fur and claws.
So Mom immediately jumped away from the cat and asked me to get her down. I laughed and asked her why she lets my cat bother her. Her answer, “I like what I like.” Mom likes the fudge bar, not the cat. Simple. Clear.
All of us could use that kind of clarity sometimes. I like these things. Not those. I don’t like my job. Some days I would rather read chick lit than anything more literary. But for many of us, our likes and dislikes get swept up in our responsibilities, the compromises we make with and for with the people around us, and concepts of what we should prefer.
Some of this is good of course. Eating Mom’s pizza and ice cream diet would be a terrible life choice for me right now. Neither is quitting my job the right choice for the foreseeable future.
Though most of what Mom navigates now is challenging and painful, I envy her the clarity that at this stage, she can simply like what she likes.