Parenting is probably the hardest job I have ever had in my life. I learned during my pregnancies that the little people have minds of their own and free will. That lesson would prove valuable years later as I was reminded that I won’t always be able to control the way they move or the time at which they chose to make adjustments. I still don’t completely understand the whys and hows of the whole process, but I do know that I have loved them and wanted nothing but the best for them since I found out they existed. My goal was always to create a nurturing, safe environment for them that would help them become productive, caring, well-adjusted people.
Just as I suspect that there were some independent forces that led to the movement and adjustments before the babies made their journey to the outside, there are independent forces that influence their lives on the outside. When they are younger, they trust the adults in their world implicitly to explain and define everything. However, around eleven or so those adult figures become the most insanely oppressive, controlling, disconnected people on the planet. Suddenly, the forces of social media and the school yard dominate their minds, seek to manipulate their thinking, and fight to direct their journeys. It is at this time parents hear, “You don’t understand!” or “Why are your so mean to me?” or “I really don’t want to talk to you right now.” or “Why do you keep telling me the same thing over and over again? I heard you the first time.” Recently, I was reminded by a friend of the infamous and dramatic, “I hate you!” I never heard the last one because I think my kids honestly believed that if they went there my eyes would roll back until only the whites were visible, steam would blow from my ears, and my head would spin around.
At some point during this growth phase, I told each of my kids that they did not come with a manual. I have told them that I believe that I make the best decisions for them at the time decisions need to be made and that those decisions are based on the information I have available to me. With a
little comedic whip, but with all seriousness, I let them know that I am scarred and they too will probably say they are scarred later in life. I apologize in advance and promise to help them heal when they figure out how I screwed up. I also tell them that I understand that they have free will to choose who they will trust and believe. I encourage them to use their brains and free will to think logically about the decisions they make regarding who to follow and what to believe. Finally, I tell them that when they consider following, trusting, or believing someone whose message is contrary to mine their thought process should include this if-then statement:
If you find someone who loves you more than I do, someone who has or will sacrifice more for you than I have, or someone who has as much to lose as I do if something happens to you, then you should follow them.
Based on the relationship I have with the two of them now and the fact that they are the coolest young people I know, I don’t think they found that person who loves them more deeply than I do or will sacrifice more for them than I will. Or, maybe they are just smart enough to trick me into believing I am “the real MVP” because they know that I am the keeper of the checkbook.