It was an unwritten understanding in the home where I was raised – growing up meant learning independence. Parents weren’t hovercrafts, and kids weren’t treated as helpless babies.
To this day, in our home, we have imported one of the famous sayings from my parents’ house: “Get it yourself!”
During my college years, I was going through quite a bit of personal and worldview turbulence. Not uncommon at that age. My Mom was always there, supportive, ready to help, even if some of my thought processes were perplexing. Mom and Dad had let go, but they were still there. Supportiveness on-call.
Now, with three children 18 or older and two others that refuse to stop their slow march into adulthood, I see how difficult this trick is. It is agonizing at times for a Mom and Dad to let go, to give their kids space, especially when you know that some very hard lessons are ahead. My wife, like her mother and her mother-in-law before her, is learning well the lesson of letting go while still being there. I don’t think my kids ever have a shred of doubt in their minds about their mother’s love and support.
Yesterday, at a baseball game, a little girl got her pants all wet and muddy. Her mother, in a fit of pique, said, “I’ll kill you for that!” No, she didn’t mean it literally, but in the malleable psyche of that wounded child, I wonder what seeds of doubt are planted by words like that. Kids need space to be kids. And space to become adults. With a Mom, though exasperated at times (many times!), always there, but slowly giving more and more room.
I love my Mom. She’s the same way with her grandkids, and they love her too. I often exhort my boys to be very, very deliberate about whom they’d consider for a wife.
Because I want their kids to write something like this some Mother’s Day in the future.
Photo by Chris Wightman via Flickr