When I was a teenager, I was very clear about the idea that my life was my own. I resented any meddling by my parents beyond the normal parental guidelines. I wanted to live my own life on my own terms. My life, my choices.
As a parent, I have found myself in a muddle. Way too often I forget which life is mine and which life I control. Angst floods in like a murky fog and I feel distressed that one of my kids isn’t doing anything meaningful with his life. He’s sleeping his life away, I think, and I am upset about it.
But it’s his life to live. It’s his life to waste. (I hate this. I want to control his life.)
Today an email came detailing some poor choices one of my kids made during the week at school. I slid into an immediate funk. I’m a failure as a mother, I said to myself. It’s just a quick hop, step and jump to a disastrous life. Where have I gone wrong? I was on the verge of weeping.
But then my husband came home in such a good mood. He gave me chocolate and reminded me that our kids have choices and free will and that even good parents have children who make mistakes. And I remembered . . . oh yeah, this is not my life to live. I have my own life and I am not being graded on the behavior of my children.
You know one of the best ways to learn? By making mistakes. By experiencing pain. By failing.
You know some of the things I hate most about life? Making mistakes. Experiencing pain. Failing.
You can see the problem. I want to protect my kids from the very things that will teach them the most.
I also want to live my kids’ lives with all the wisdom I’ve acquired over the past fifty years. But while this seems altruistic and helpful, it’s the absolute wrong thing to do. Besides that, their lives are not mine to live.
I don’t like this at all but no one asked me when the whole system was set up. As usual, I have to release my grip and get a grip.
I have just one life to live. Better not to spend it freaking out about things I cannot and should not control.