There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

Saturday, August 27, 2011

If I Could Turn Back Time

The summer that my first son started kindergarten I was with a friend who was also sending her first child off to school for the first time and she commented, “I hope I’ve done a good job as a mom.”

I laughed at the comment finding it strange.  Her son was 5 years old, like mine.  We had plenty of mothering left to do.  But as she continued to talk, I understood her point.  The first few years of our childrens’ lives are the only years that I, as their mother, have sole custody so to speak. 

It is the only time that I am the main influence in their lives.  As they enter school, they will encounter teachers, principals, coaches and friends.  And they will have an influence on my children.  So what my friend really was talking about was their foundation…so I considered that.  Did I give my kids a good foundation?

I just dropped my third son off at college for the first time.  I wish I could say it gets easier with each child but in a way it gets more difficult.  I’m so grateful my kids are able to take advantage of the college experience.  I’m grateful they have their drivers licenses, jobs, friends, and a certain amount of freedom because of those things.

But each time they walk out the door, each time I say goodbye to them, I feel just the tiniest bit sad.  Because in my head, I want my kids to be strong, independent, self-sufficient people, but in my heart I want them to be 4 years old again. 

Does anyone but a mother really appreciate the words of Elizabeth Stone?  “Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart walk around outside of your body.”

Today I feel the weight of those words.  And while outwardly I wouldn’t have it any other way for I want my children to spread their wings and fly, inwardly I wish they were mine…all mine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trust Me To Make Mistakes

There are so many quotes about making mistakes, most alluding to the fact that the best and hardest lessons are learned from our mistakes.  In fact, I know for myself, the lessons that have stuck with me the most are the ones I learned the hard way.  Through mistakes. Or poor choices. Or lack of information.

There are those who love me so much that they wish to protect me from making mistakes.  “Learn from my mistakes” they say.  Don’t do what I did.  And I understand that love.  I would love to protect my children from all bad things.  I would love for them to never feel pain, sorrow or regret, especially when I see, as an onlooker, that the pain, sorrow, regret, could have been avoided.

But then would they grow? Would they learn?  If I never let go of the reins long enough to let my children fall, will they become who they were meant to be? 

I come from a long line of worriers.  And this worry drives my family to overprotect.  Even control.  And I have resisted this control.  I have been called a rebel without a cause, the black sheep, because I wish to break free from this control.

In my weak moments, I rationalize the control and worry.  They just love me, they want what’s best for me, I should listen to them.  I should play it safe. They are right and I am wrong.

In my strong moments, I make my own decisions, live my own life, listen to the beat of my own drum.  And yes, sometimes I make mistakes.  But I assess and consider, and reconsider.  And believe it or not, I can be trusted to learn from my mistakes.  I can be trusted to make decisions that are right for me. 

So I appreciate the love, the worry and the concern.  I appreciate that there are people in my life who have gone before me, who know things that I do not know and who wish to keep me safe, but that is not how I will learn, and it is not how I will come to fully live.  So let go of the reins, keep me in your prayers, but not under your thumb, and let me learn for myself…even, and maybe especially, if it’s the hard way.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When You Wish Upon A Star

I grew up believing that my happiness would come when I found true love.  I devoured all the great fairy tales.  The princess saved by Prince Charming who swept her off her feet after rescuing her from the evil witch or whatever the particular details of that story happened to be.

So I grew up thinking of myself as the weaker, frail girl who needed rescuing.  I didn’t have to worry about anything because my knight in shining armor would ride in on his white stallion and save the day.

But then I got older, and I got married (to my Prince Charming) but he wasn’t always my knight in shining armor.  He often didn’t swoop in to rescue me from all the evils of the world and I thought something was missing.  It wasn’t enough that he went off to work every day to provide for me and our kids.  It wasn’t enough that he came home every night after a long day to the insanity of our lives, willing to help me out where he could.

I wanted more…I wanted the fairy tale. Perfection and bliss.  No worries or troubles because my Prince Charming was there to take all of that away from me, so I could live happily ever after.  But that’s not my life.  I have worries and troubles.  I have chores and messiness.  And I grew angry and resentful.

I felt alone and I secretly continued to wish for a new Prince Charming.  A better one.  One who fulfilled my fantasies, who would protect me, take care of me and allow me to live happily ever after in perfection and bliss. 

But I have come to realize something (and it only took 46 years).  I am not a woman in need of rescuing.  I need no knight in shining armor to take care of me.  I got lost in the fairy tales of old believing that’s what I needed.  And not only do I not need that, I don’t even want it. 

My Prince Charming doesn’t need to swoop in and rescue me.  He only needs to be my friend, my greatest supporter, he needs to love me through thick and thin, for better for worse, on good hair days and bad, with or without makeup, through PMS and menopause.  And that’s what I have. 

So I’m the lucky one.  I don’t need rescuing because I am not weak or incapable or frail.  I am much stronger and far more independent than I have ever given myself credit for.  And the best part is, in my fairy tale, I have my own white stallion which I can saddle up all by myself and ride next to my Prince Charming into happily ever after…