Children are a blessing, I truly believe that. I also believe that if potential parents knew the torment of extraneous defiance, nobody-wins power struggles, and the possibility of utter failure that looms towards the end of our parenting journey… We may have fewer humans around.
My three kids are my greatest joy and most agonizing responsibility. My parenting skills have developed in a lurching, uneven way and I struggle with that and I’m guessing I always will. The great unknown outcome of my success as a parent is nearly unbearable some days. Especially because my two oldest are adults. Immature adults to be sure; but adults with, goals, ambitions and rights of their own.
I’ve been honest with my adult kids about my struggles and learning experiences, I’ve acknowledged my failures and how I managed to recover from failure. I’ve tried to be a good role model and to prepare them to manage themselves. Have I allowed them to see my faults in a way that shows them that we are both just humans at different phases? Or do they see me as so fundamentally flawed that my advice until now is suspect?
I’m nearing the end of my run as their life-manager, and I have no option but to allow them to make their own choices. Have I fulfilled my parenting responsibility? Was my best good enough?
My son is finishing his first year of college and has chosen to get ahead with summer school, eschewing a trip home to visit. My daughter is ready to move out after her senior year. I can’t stop them from choosing to do things, or choosing not to do things, that will shape their lives from here on out. I weep over our distant, sometimes hostile, relationships as they are now. Will I miss the passive aggressive bitterness, the power struggles and toxic tensions that sometimes invaded our home? No. And I mean NO. In fact, I’m really looking FOWARD to a break from that.
I will miss them, of course; they are parts of my soul that I can’t protect anymore. I can’t surround their tender hearts with my mommy-armor any longer. So, as ever, every wish on a star or eyelash and morning prayer is for them and I wish them well with every heartbeat and breath I take.
As they say hello to their independent lives, I hope I can say goodbye to their childhoods with grace. I see their potential and I’m so grateful for the gift that is them.