Saturday, June 13, 2009

Letting Go - Not My Strong Suit

It's been a rough emotional week. You don't need the details nor do I need to share them, but suffice to say that I'm getting slapped in the face with the fact that my kids aren't kids anymore. They're young adults. If I even consider forgetting it, I get hit again.

They're good people, my kids. My son's now 22, my daughter will be 20 next week. They're struggling, as almost everyone is right now. They've got the mandatory worries about their future plans that no one except perhaps a zealot ever escapes. They've got talents and they've got interests, but they also worry about choosing the wrong way, putting too much energy into a choice that later proves to be a dead end.

Then they're worried about money. And that worry is compounded by the fact that their parents are worried about money, too. College, something their dad and I managed without much angst, is a loan-heavy monster they both must carry on their backs while I try to find ways to get rich and help them.

They're carrying heavy responsibilities, adult-sized worries that make my heart ache. I want to scoop them up, hold them close and rock them until the burdens fall away. I wish that I still had the super mommy power to make everything alright, to let them rest knowing that they're safe, that someone who loves them dearly is watching over them, someone who would throw herself in front of a freight train to save them. I would still do that.

And there's my conflict. For me, having children was an experience in not just responsibility, but empowerment. I've always been "easy to get along with". I will bend into shapes impossible for a yogi in an attempt to avoid conflict. Unless you mess with my kids.

"You aren't very nice where your children are concerned," my father informed me after I made it clear that teasing his three year old grandson until he cried was unacceptable.
"You're a tiger."

I was. I am. I make no apologies. But my cubs are grown.

So what do I do with this hard-wired imperative to protect them at all costs? They probably, in some ways, wish I could leap in, clear the obstacles, solve the problems, turn them toward a point in the distance and say with confidence, "Go that way. There's your happy future."

In other ways they, quite rightly, don't want me involved at all. These are their lives.

So I am forced to stand by the side, aware of their struggles, longing to fix everything, to save them pain, yet unable to move because I know those struggles are part of what strengthens them for the challenges life inevitably brings.

I am rooted, a coiled spring of potential energy with nowhere to go.

Nobody told me about this part of parenting. Not that it would have helped.


pinkpackrat said...

a beautiful post, Susan and I idenify totally with your feelings. My children are a decade or more older than yours so I am further down the road and I can tell you, that all will be well and that there is nothing more wonderful than realizing that those kids you raised are pretty smart adults, and a lot of fun to be around. They do carry burdens we didn't, but each generation has it's own thing to bear. They don't have a draft to face for example.

Thanks for a beautiful and beautifully written post

Susan said...

I know it's a universal parent thing, and thanks for the words of encouragement.
It's just tough letting go of that sense of "I must fix this for them" when it's very clear it's no longer possible, or even my place, to fix it.
We're all growing, I guess.