Photograph by Beabe Thompson, 2014, all rights reserved.
I grew up in a father-less household, three women on their own, for the most part. After having lived through a rather mental barbed wire childhood, I said parenthood was not for me. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want my own offspring, it was that I had no courage or thought no talent for being a good parent.
When I met my second husband, Dan, my mind changed. We had our first son a few years after our marriage. Both of us admitted complete ignorance about what we were doing, although he was the oldest of four with sane parents, and actually had a better idea. I stumbled through his toddler years, watching parenting shows, reading books, talking, talking, talking to my dear husband about what we were doing.All along there was this fear I was getting it so wrong, and that little mistakes were really big ones.There was a miscarriage, then a few years later my last child, another boy came into our world.
I’ve made so many mistakes as a mother, bumbling along being too sharp, too meddling, too inflexible because of my ignorance and inexperience. All this has come to fruition.Eldest is off at college, with a girlfriend I’ve never met. Youngest is going off soon to a faraway college, and my heart’s breaking into a million pieces. I’ve decided eldest is ashamed of me, of our house, something I’ve done, or not done. Youngest is ready to be done with my meddling, but wants some help and money. Come here, go away, Mom. Adulthood is here for them, ringing the doorbell. If I felt better about the job I’d done as a mother, it would be less painful to let them go. A part of me wants to fix the mistakes that can’t be undone, relive the best parts that can’t be relived, be loved and held affectionately by my boys. Letting go of all those things is a hard, hard task.
How we rear our kids sets them up as parents later, and faulty parenting screws up more than one generation. Maybe my sons won’t ever have kids because of me, because of my parenting skills being poor. I hope not.
Time to open my fingers and let go, let go of the strings we mothers use to bind our family together, let go of the expectations that make no sense and only hurt. Those strings stick to my fingers like fine cotton candy, and don’t want to go.