When babies start to crawl, one thing they’ll do is crawl away from their mother and then crawl back, touch her foot, crawl a little further away, then crawl back and touch her foot again, before wandering out a little further, etc. This is a process called anchoring. The baby is making sure mom is still there before exploring further because mom is a secure base.
That’s what the new adult stage of life is like. On one hand, you’re on your own (whether you’re in college, working, etc). As much as you enjoy being on your own and not being told what to do, you know that secure base (your parents’ house) is there for you if you need it (not that you could ever imagine wanting it, especially when you’re a teenager).
Well, if your parents aren’t that interested in providing a secure base because they’re doing their own things, then it makes the whole process of striking out on your own very different. That’s Elle’s situation in Covert Assignment. Here’s an excerpt of Elle calling her mother:
There was a long pause as Elle mentally fortified herself.
“Well, I’m interviewing for jobs,” she said.
“They’re going well- the interviews,” she hastened to add. “I’m just not sure when something will actually come through.”
After another pause that almost became physically painful, her mother said, “You know Lindsay’s in your old room now.”
“Yeah, yeah- I remember.” Elle was quick to respond.
After another pause, her mother said, “Ellie, something will come up. You’re a great student coming from a well-regarded university. Something will come up.”
“I know,” Elle agreed. “It’s just when that’s the question.” Another pause. “Something had better come up, I guess.” She forced a brief laugh. Nothing about this conversation was a surprise, but somehow, that didn’t make it any easier. She knew from the time she was a kid that she was the leftovers.
“Listen, Steve was home sick from school today-” her mother started.
Elle allowed her the graceful exit. “Oh, no problem- hope he’s feeling better soon.” She hung up.
Maybe she should sell those damn graduation tickets.
Lucky for Elle, she’s up for the challenge of not having involved parents! She’s got it all planned out, until she learns that not everything goes according to plan…
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