Don’t have children. Sometimes I get an idea for a blog and I start a draft of it, so I don’t forget. The post-menapausel Alzheimers I get sometimes has me forgetting things two minutes after I think of them. so I try to get a title and few sentences to lead me, when the time comes to actually write. . I sat down to write the other day and looked at some of my thoughts and all I had written under this title, was “don’t have them.” I laughed trying to remember what my mind set was that day. Was it the day when there was an eye roll, or a sarcastic rebuttal to my advice? I don’t remember! 🙂
I was not the perfect parent, nor am I still. The news flash? No one is. Are you? Have you met one? Do we love our children like they’re perfect? Absolutely… Are they? Are we? Depends on the day…
I wished I had done things differently; somedays I do. There were days when I made mistakes, or came close to making mistakes, that I shudder at now. I gave them quite a bit of freedom; freedom to try things, to travel, and to express themselves. I let them fail, but if I had to step in because someone was unjust, my reaction was predictable and swift. I didn’t helicopter; oh once in a while a rotor started to spin, but I would always try and think first, trust that they could take it and could figure it out.
I could have done better with father figures for them, by the time I figured it out and married Dave, they were grown and have had to figure out on their own what a good male parent looks like. They have faced disappointment and sadness, but have survived. They are all very strong and very independent, sometimes more than I would like.. they don’t need us so much anymore, or at least don’t think so, at least that’s what they sometimes tell us. 🙂
When Dave and I were married, our youngest daughter wasn’t independent. The two youngest kids had lost their birth mom to cancer and understandably so, were fearful about loss, about decision making….. I worked hard to make them more independent. I wanted them to know that loss was hard, but that they could survive. I wanted them to be strong enough to survive the other losses that invariably happen. There was a day though, when our youngest made it very clear to me that she was independent. I was lamenting to my husband, when he reminded me that her independence had been my goal. Huh…success?
My sister told me about a time when she overheard our mom tell our dad that they were shitty parents. There were days when I felt that was true; there are days when my children think they had shitty parents; there are days when your kids have thought you could have done better.. later curfews, more toys, less toys, earlier curfews, less harsh words, more hugs. We look at them with pride, not only because we feel like we had some small part in the greatness of who they are, but because we know they are surviving us..our mistakes, our youth, our lack of parental example or in spite of our parental examples. They are not only surviving, most of us are lucky enough to see them thrive.
Don’t get me wrong, I still worry; I wished I could wrap them up in bubble wrap, store them in a closet so that they are only mine, safe from harm and heartbreak, but that’s not the answer by any means and we all know better (except for that couple in California). We have to loosen the reins, let them live their lives, and pray that God will keep them safe. The alternative, if we don’t, is that they break free on their own, with no guidance, with no safety net for when they fail, or someone fails them.
There was this quote in the 70’s, “If you love something let it free, if it’s meant to be yours, it will come back, if it doesn’t it wasn’t meant to be.” A cheesy quote that we can blow holes in a mile wide, but really the idea is to release what you love, with a glad and open heart, before it wants to escape. Relinquish the control..we don’t get to be in control, we only pretend.
I told my kids one day, “I’m not going to live my life feeling guilty, I did the best I could”. “If you think I did things wrong, be a better parent, show me how it’s done, but I did the best I could.”
When I write about our children, it’s with a smile on my face. They are my biggest worry, losing them is my biggest fear, but they are my greatest accomplishment. I love watching them parent, whether it is with one child, three, or practicing on a dog. The growth doesn’t stop for any of us; the learning doesn’t stop and neither does the pride.
How to be a perfect parent? Don’t ask me; you need to practice on your own. 🙂 You will do the best you can; they will survive it and hopefully so will you..