Parenting is one of the hardest jobs around. Some of us are prepared and others not so much. We have ideas of how we want to change things from our own experiences and give our children things we never had. The implementation of it all we realize is less than perfect.
In the early years, there are challenges but as the saying goes “little children, little problems.” Often we can intervene and fix a problem. We teach our children about the world and they seem to listen. I look back now at some of my family or friends with young children and smile when I hear them say things like “Mommy says stupid is a bad word so we don’t say it.” I laugh to myself thinking how it used to be and think of my boys now in the basement yelling every profanity known to man to the Xbox, to each other and even to me. Sound familiar?
We look forward to the day when our children become more independent and we can start to reclaim parts of our life back. I am in that transition as one son is in college and the other soon to graduate high school and leave the house as well. I reflect back and hope that all I have taught them will be retained and my little perfect children will go out into the world and learn from all the mistakes I made and not do the same. I want to spare them from all the hurt that is possible.
And then I wake up from my dream and understand the reality. They are going to make mistakes. No matter how much we have warned them, talked until we were blue in the face about what not to do. They are going to make their own decisions and make mistakes. As much as I fight it, I get it. And truly I do understand that it is important for them to make mistakes, learn from them and become resilient.
Oh, how hard it is though to watch. I feel the pain so profoundly as only a parent can understand. It is physical. Sometimes the pain I feel is more intense than my child is feeling and I think it is because I get it. I see the big picture, understand the implications and understand how it might affect them in ways they don’t see. I want to get in there and fix it all and hurt all those who have “wronged” my child. My reactions are impetuous, myopic and coming from a place of deep-seeded emotion. I just want to fix everything. Make it better. Put that band-aid on the “boo boo” and make it go away. And then I pull myself together, process everything and begin to accept the situation and give advice that might not fix everything but that will put my child in a position to learn and grow and move forward in a positive way.
The last two weeks have been tough in our house and certainly not for the first time. Each time it has been an emotional rollercoaster for all and then we pick up the pieces and begin to move on. I have learned as a parent I need to trust and let go as much as I can. Not so easy but I need to keep encouraging myself to do it.
The silver lining in it all? “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” -Eleanor Roosevelt. For me, that has been the silver lining each time mistakes have been made. The way my sons have handled their mistakes with honesty and accountability when other choices may have been easier fills me with pride. Mistakes make us human. The journey makes us stronger. As tough as it is for me, my boys are on that journey.