Playing Parents

“If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings” Brian Tracy

The end of this year I acknowledge the blessing my children have given me. My three oldest children have grown up to be productive members of society. They are independent, competent, kind, and living their own lives without needing me. My youngest is pretty much doing the same. Not sure how that happened, but I am pretty sure it was unavoidable. Kids do that. Grow up. I acknowledge that I fed them, clothed them, but who they have chosen to be was and is their choice.

Several people have asked me how we feel to have children who are so independent. They make it sound like it’s a bad thing. Like our kids are suppose to “need” us. I thought the point was to raise children to be self sufficient and independent, not an extension of me, but their own special wonderful person. I still think that.

Now what is true is that, as a parent, I find this painfully wonderful. Those feelings that began 26 years ago, when Isaac took his first breath, feelings like overwhelmed, unprepared, heavy, responsible, irresponsible, tender, angry, scared, joyous, certainly uncertain, humble, proud, grateful and, oh yea, love are still there lurking under the surface poking their head out at the most inopportune moments. But I survived and dang it, so did they!

And although I am sure that they may still come around to have a chat or share thoughts or feelings, (at least I hope they do) they won’t be expecting me or even wanting me to make the decisions of their lives. They won’t be telling their friends the standard excuse that their mother said no or yes. They are now wise and strong enough to tell themselves and others no or yes because that is what they want.

As a 12 year old girl, I remember wanting black and white ceramic hooks for my black and white bedroom that my parents decided I could decorate and paint by myself. I asked my father, in his daily adventures, to see if he could locate me some. He did and he brought them home and then he handed me the bill for them. I was shocked and honestly a little hurt, but in hindsight my father gave me a greater gift that day, ownership. It built my character and my confidence. That is parenting.

When I was 13 I had saved my babysitting money and purchased my own 10-speed bike. I valued that bike and still feel the loss from it’s theft 30 years latter.. My parents could have bought it for me, but instead they parented.

I am not sure my parents knew the right moments to parent or even if it was a conscious choice. I know I didn’t and still don’t. Most days I just want everyone alive at the end of the day. I am very certain my children will be making some major mistakes in their lives, but so do I. We all do. That’s called life.

I’ll always be here, but now my job is to listen, not to do. I’ll always be here for them to encourage and cheer and cry and laugh and, oh yea, love. Parenting, my children have been training me and now I am ready for the biggest job yet, letting them parent their own children. The best sport of all time because we all get to play.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. Maya Angelou

Posted in Random, Teaching, Thought.