Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Children Are Not Yours

Things have happened in my sons' lives that I could not control.

Imagine that.

When I looked down at my blanket-wrapped first baby, I felt so responsible and terrified. What if I dropped him, what if I scarred him for life? He was so perfect, I was so afraid I'd mess him up. I couldn't stand the thought that what I did or didn't do could so harm him as to change the path of his future, irrevocably send him down a path to ruin.

I tried, I really did. Each day I tried to smooth his path, guide him with love, help him learn, feed him, hug him, keep him clean, keep him from hurting himself. I almost did it perfectly, too - then life intervened.

I had to go back to work, and leave him with a sitter. I got tired one night and shouted at him. I turned my back and he fell and cut his forehead. I had to send him to school.

Little by little, I realized he was not a blank slate I had to write on perfectly. He came with his own personality. This I realized even more when his brother came along with a whole different personality. Things I thoughtlessly did or said would upset one son; the same thing didn't phase the other.

As they grew, so did my efforts to raise them well and my worries that I was not doing it right. Teacher conferences were agony. How could I make them do what the teacher wanted? They loved to learn, just not the way the schools taught. Oh, God, was I raising daydreamers like me? If they would only do their homework!

And did they have friends? The right sort of friends? Why were they picked on by bullies?

And then came driving, and experiments with drugs, girls, and....somewhere along here I realized that I was not in charge. Never had been. Still I fought to hold the reins, while the horses bucked and threw off the saddle.

And then one day they were gone. Not forever gone, but, now adults, they were gone off out into the world where I could not see them every day, could not nag and scold and protect them. I had done my job. They were, for better or worse, RAISED.

A sadness swept over me. Had I done enough? Had I hugged and kissed them enough, told them I loved them enough, punished them for infractions in just the right way, so as to correct their actions but not stifle their spirit?

I am now watching my adult sons with wonder and awe. I see their struggles with life and love and realize that their struggles are theirs, not mine. I do not own them. Who they become is a product of genetics and upbringing, yes, but it is in the end the product of their decisions. This is the crucial part, the part I cannot do for them. I and my husband have done our best; the rest is theirs to do.

And I think, looking at them, that they will do just fine. I love you guys.

No comments: