I had an “Aha” moment about parenting early in the New Year: “If all is well with my children and grandchildren, why should I feel so responsible?” It wasn’t a resolution, it was a recognition. My trip to Mexico gave me time to further sort out my new role because I realized that I have been living in the past.
It has always been easy to be behind myself in mothering. I can visual each first day of school and my trepidation. “Were you really ready to leave my side?” As adolescents, you were trapped in my mental time warp. I was sure you needed me to be in on every decision. As adults you have included me in your lives and have listened to my (unsolicited) opinions on everything from vitamins to laundry soap and from childbirth to aging. (Isn’t everyone entitled to my opinion?)
I can usually recognize past mistakes. It’s the current ones that are obscured by my lifetime habit of feeling indispensable to you. And so, in my solitude I spent time thinking about what is necessary and what is not.
My gift in life is that all of you are living your own choices, are self-supporting and self-sustaining and are of benefit to those around you. Because you are loving and conscientious parents, my grandchildren are moving forward in their lives. My challenge is to accept this gift and realize that my work is done. What’s left for me is to live my life and enjoy your lives as a part of it, but not the whole of it.
As a parent, this is mind bending. I’m positive that I am late in the realization but I hope not late in the exhibition. I think most of my angst as a mother goes on in my own mind. What should I do? What should I say? Should I have been there? Should I not have been there? Did I interfere? Was I clueless? Did I care too much? Do I not care enough? My self-examination can be endless.
But I’ve had months of peace following my “Aha” moment. I found the answer to my question…that I haven’t known how to let go. And it is all within myself. This has nothing to do with you being demanding or asking too much of me. It has nothing to do with your incapacity to be happily functioning adults without my help. It has everything to do with my expectations of myself, which create my greatest hurdle.
This is a challenge for me but I am up to it. I know where I am going.
I want to be a resource to you, not just someone lurking in the wings watching your lives. And if I am to enrich your lives as you do mine, I must be important to myself. I must live and learn and be vital. I must be curious and thoughtful in the sense of filtering information and experiences. I can’t do that in a holding pattern. I can’t do it in a worry mode. And I can’t do it feeling responsible for all of you, let alone the entire world and all of its inhabitants.
My process will be in determining the balance: to make myself available emotionally and physically, and yet to reaffirm always that I can leave you to make your own decisions, live your own lives well and to be who you are without considering who I might think you are.
In the meantime, I’m in limbo as I look to my own future. I am thinking, meditating and wondering how to step forward without a familiar foothold. I’m discovering myself in new ways. And I am always loving you.