I was at my local book club last night. A group of women on my block, of varying ages and backgrounds, who get together once a month to discuss a book (and whatever else is going on in our lives and around us).
We exhausted all we could think of around the story and title and author, and then drifted off topic. Onto how stupid parenting is.
I mean, who thought of this, anyway? You birth them (or in some cases adopt them). Then you circle your lives around them, even as you struggle to have an identity of your own. You are happy to be “So-and-so’s mom,” and though you complain, at times delight in the shoe-tying and homework helping and band camp pickup.
You know (supposedly) where they are at nearly all times, and are responsible (at least in the suburbs) for getting them to and fro. You’re the one they turn to when they need money or a ride or sometimes even someone to listen to them.
Then you’re supposed to just let them go. Just let them go. You, like one friend, send them off to university on the French Riviera and know one weekend that they’re somewhere in Paris with someone, and you don’t know exactly with whom or where. And not three months earlier you were their chauffer and curfew. You, like another friend, know they’re traveling around South America. You don’t know exactly where at all times…but it’s not that big a continent. You, like a third friend, watch them parent their children, knowing that they’re maybe finally understanding what it was like for you and how boundless and huge a mother’s love is. You wish them tons of experiences…but maybe not all the ones you had. You wish them heart-bursting joy and want to shield them from any pain. Even as you know you can’t.
You’re supposed to simply let them go. And be happy for them. You are happy for them. It’s just so weird that they’re not your daily life anymore.
Last night my friend who still has very young children noticeably braced herself for her turn at fully letting go, even though it was years away. She’s preparing herself for a three-week separation from her oldest this summer (first time at sleep-away camp) and knows she isn’t ready for that. Even though she is.
I think it’s downright stupid how much you love these little (or not so little) people, and that your job is then to turn them loose. And trust and know that they’ll be okay. You still want to kiss their boo-boos and tuck them in at night. Even if they don’t want or need it. Even as you delight in their strength and maturity and lack of needing you. It is such a combination of opposites.
Parenting is stupid.
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