Life is what you make it.
As a mother realizing my young adults were beginning to make life decisions, I had to step back and ask myself, whose life is it anyway? How do I as mother relinquish total control? Then I had to check myself because I never really had total control. Some of the decisions my three young people felt free enough to make even before they moved out startled me, surprised me, stressed me out yet reassured me that I was present during their formative years.
Watching them spread their wings brought life full circle for me. I remember my parents hopes and dreams for me. They were basic. Be a good citizen and stand on your own. I started planning as a young child how I was going to go about that. I got my start at the public library. As often as Momma could, she’d take me and we’d sit for hours reading books. No conversations about the books because in the 70s, you didn’t talk in libraries. I read and dreamed. I changed my mind about my adult life with every book I read. I could be anything I wanted to be. Books suggested that I should live life to the fullest. I got good grades and set out to do just that.
By the time I had my children, I could afford to buy sets of books and computers to make sure to introduce them to my first love. I taught them to love the printed word and to dream. I introduced them to as much about life as I could think of to do. I loved observing them at play. I encouraged them to creatively solve their problems. I encouraged them to engage in new and different activities. Variety is the spice of life, I preached. I wanted to see what they would come up with.
I was startled when I told Valencia she could be a cheerleader if she could figure out how to sign
up. Vernetta figured it out for Valencia while I was at work. They even asked a friend of mine from church to take Valencia if I couldn’t get off work. Nice!
I was surprised to hear how Vernetta handled a situation her first year of college. The professor told her that her work was unacceptable. Vernetta asked what exactly wasn’t up to par. The professor told her and she took the paper back from the professor and started walking out the door. The professor asked her where was she going. She responded to the computer lab. This class isn’t over for forty-five minutes and I will have this paper back to you before then. I was too impressed. The professor gave her full credit for her revised work.
I was stressed out to receive a phone call from my son to tell me that he was no longer on the school wrestling team. He was being bullied by the coach and he felt threatened. He called my sister because I was teaching and I suppose he didn’t think I would take off immediately to protect him. My sister confronted the coach and pulled my son off of the team. I was okay with it after getting over the initial shock.
I thought I’d one up my parents and have specific dreams and goals for my children. Why not, I’m paying for it right! Those mighty mites had different plans. In all of my grooming they were making their own plans. As each one felt ready, she/he looked at me point blank and announced, this is my life now and I’ve decided… Each one did it!
As physically and financially draining as the process was, it was just that. A process. Our relationship changed from giving directions I expected followed exactly, to giving advice that they would struggle to follow or not follow. I had to step back and let them struggle.
Besides, it’s their lives. I want to sit back and be proud of who they become. I love them. I put in the work. I have grandchildren now. The cycle repeats.