Thursday, February 23, 2006

Losing The Velcro Touch

On the weekend I called an old friend and it was the way she softly said, "hey" to me when she recognized my voice, that made me realize how much has passed between us and how deep our roots with one another go. Today I followed up on a promise to go have coffee with her. We originally met before either of us had kids, bonded by living over 600 miles from our shared birthplace. Twenty plus years later with our kids now grown, she has become a grandma and mother-in-law, while I am still waiting to experience those privileges (I'm not in a hurry she says to her kids reading this!)

Much of the time motherhood has found me feeling pressure filled. It doesn't take long into your firstborn's life before you find yourself either comparing your child to someone else's or having someone do it for you. "Oh, she isn't crawling/sleeping through the night/free of her soother, etc. yet"? And then the misgivings start(for the record I was passed out drunk the first time one of my babies slept through the night so maybe the misgivings should have started earlier) and you wonder how you ever got to be a parent without passing go and collecting 200 buckaroos.

It is only now, in adulthood (theirs not mine!), that the pressure has lessened. It's no longer about me all the time when it comes to my kids and their actions. Notice I didn't say never about me, but it's much less. It would help if they somehow grew up without having to make mistakes and learn/not learn from them but hey, that's how I got to where I am and they are so much farther ahead maturity wise than I was, at their ages.

I wish I could have figured out how to not make it all about me much earlier on the journey but am thankful I am headed firmly in that direction now. I don't have to voice my own misgivings about some of the choices my kids' make based on how it will make me look but rather on awareness of my own journey so they don't have to hit the same road blocks I did. Not that they are asking me for that advice but I don't remember asking either when I was their age.

About 10 years ago I was part of a Bible study group that consisted of 8 elderly women and myself. My kids were all preteens then and I used to marvel as these women shared bits and pieces of their adult children's lives without being stuck like velcro to the outcome of those choices. They were able to separate themselves from their kids' decisions/actions and I wondered how grey one's hair had to get before the velcro lost its touch.

At a baby shower for my friend's daughter this past weekend we were given cards to write out some advice for the first time mom. I just wanted to tell her to deal with/get help as her issues arose. I know of no other guarantee of issues rising to the surface than having children. Dealing with those issues would go a long way to avoid thinking that her child was an extension of herself long before the grey hairs began to appear. "Don't let yourself become grey haired before you separate what is and isn't you," I wanted to say. It's the best parental pressure reliever tool available.

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