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Yasmin Abdullah is a nurse and a family nurse practitioner in the Chicago area.

I believe my mother and I have always had a close relationship — except for the years I was coming of age and knew everything better.

Now I am middle-aged, and she is 83. We are experiencing some of the role reversal that happens as our parents age and we care for them and worry about them the way they did for us when we were growing up. The pandemic has put a certain twist on this in my relationship with my mother.

I find myself regressing back to a belligerent know-it-all not dissimilar to those late teen years. A notable difference here is that this time, my attitude comes from a place of concern and is focused on her rather than the self-absorbed way that it was in adolescence. Or is it?

My mother is a lovely, lively woman. She feels and acts much younger than she is. She lives alone in a house that is too big for her, but she keeps it up seemingly easily. She is active — she can walk 4 miles for a daily walk or 9 miles on a forest preserve hike. She keeps her mind up with word games, a book club and hours on the phone with friends.

She is very social and one of the best dinner party hosts I have ever known. She still makes a sit-down dinner for a party of 18. This past year she had her kitchen gutted and remodeled — a huge undertaking at any age. She has always been free-spirited. To this day, I believe she would still skinny-dip, zip-line or eat a gummy offered to her at a dinner party. She’s fun.

So keeping her down during a pandemic is tough. She hasn’t been the best rule follower. She went to restaurants early in the pandemic when they were supposed to be closed. She had friends over when that was discouraged.

When it was the only-go-out-for-necessities phase of the pandemic, she insisted she needed pansies from Costco for her deck (when people were stocking up on toilet paper). She traveled by plane before most people were comfortable doing so.

Meanwhile, I work in health care and have been very much affected by the pandemic, and I was worried about her. I lectured her about her choices. I scared her with stories. I condemned her friends who shared in her resistance to the rules.

I tried to use the “greater good” approach. I was sure she simply was not registering or processing what was really happening in this world, that her aging and cognition were affecting her understanding. But she assured me she knew exactly was happening. She stated her position clearly to me: She doesn’t want to give up who she is. She wants to be happy and carefree in her old age.

She said, “Sooner or later, I have to die of something.”

So I tried to appreciate her perspective. I thought if my best friend told me this was her mother’s attitude, I would likely think, good for her! I backed off and tried to choose when I weighed in on things related to COVID-19. But I didn’t do a great job of it, nor did she do much to change her position or choices.

So we have revisited this argument many times in the past two years. Tears have been shed, voices have been raised, and I have more than once felt she was selfish in her views and choices. And I’m sure she has more than once been disappointed in my response and how I have treated her.

This month it happened, my worst fear: My mom had COVID-19. She had a mild-to-moderate course. I suspect my worry for the past week was worse than her symptoms. We are OK.

Now I am feeling humbled and grateful and left thinking: Who is selfish? Me, perhaps? I was trying to protect her and keep her safe, but I was doing it for me, not just her. I want her to be here with me.

Dear Mom, this is my sincere apology. I’m sorry for lecturing you. I’m sorry for not letting you be who you are. I want you to live forever, but I also want you to live your life being true to yourself. Couldn’t we all take a moment to reflect on what drives our judgments and understanding of this time and be kinder to one another? Believe what we believe, but also, live and let live.