I know I am neurotic, and some things more than others. Certain aspects of parenting immediately come to mind, and I am almost ashamed to admit where my insecurity lies.
Friday night at Costco we were in a long line waiting to pay for our
crap stuff. During our wait we observed our check-out lady admonish 2 different little boys to not play with the stretchy cord that signifies a lane is closed. I internally cringed each time she had to speak up. My “baby” is now 28 years old and unafraid to correct other people’s children himself, yet I still cringe each and every time I observe it.
When our turn came the topic came up, and the
girl young woman manning the register remarked that it was just an example of parents not paying attention to what their children are doing. I replied that while my kids are now adults, when they were that age anyone having to correct their behavior in public was like a personal, embarrassing rebuke and a severe mom fail. I would feel as if I could never again go through her line and possibly contemplate other Costcos for future shopping trips.
It’s true. I am one of those people who take/took corrections to my kids’ behavior very personally. Thankfully they are now grown up and their behavior no longer is a direct reflection of my capability as a parent.
Which brings me to Saturday and dinner with G, K, and K’s biological mother, half-sister, and their significant others.
K has had an unusual family life. Her mother is a recovering addict, her father an alcoholic, and both parents lost custody of K when she was 2, so she was raised by her aunt and uncle, her father’s sister and brother-in-law. That did not end well, as her aunt was an extraordinarily controlling and not an example of good parenting. Let us just say it made for an interesting holiday bbq.
I liked both K’s mother and sister, but I suppose I am a bit wary of her mother knowing the basics of the complicated history. While she has been through rehab and is presently recreational drug-free, she does enjoy alcohol beverages. Is that relevant? I honestly don’t know, but booze is legal whereas cocaine and heroin are not. The relationship between mother and daughter is still in the getting reaquainted phase and it shows in their interactions, leaving me/M and our easy-going interaction with K and with G feeling a bit awkward. The boyfriends were both okay, also still learning how to navigate the choppy waters in this family.
K and G hung out with us for a couple of hours after K’s mom, sister, and their significant others left for the long drive back to their homes a couple of hours away. K wanted to talk with me about some job-related issues and prospects, plus she’d attended a funeral for a childhood friend the previous Monday and I wanted to ensure she was doing okay in the aftermath of that. It was a good time, good conversation, and we revisited some of the issues that come from growing up in such a factured family environment.
I am 100% certain my son and my daughter do not speak in glowing terms about me and their life growing up 100% of the time to all their friends. And mostly that’s okay. I actually count as a win every day, every year I have where my kids still talk to me, where we as a family come together for family dinner, where they seek out my input on anything. My expectations of them hating and avoiding me at some point provides some insulation if and when that day ever arrives. Reality is right now, we remain close; I will not borrow trouble from the future worrying about mistakes and shortcomings from the past.
Sometimes I am perplexed about how to parent young adults growing into just adults. My ultimate dream for them is that they have good and happy lives. That includes a partner if they desire one, a productive job that provides enough income for their basic needs and a few wants, a normal future and adulthood. I used to wonder if I was not ambitious enough, did not dream big enough, work hard enough, did enough to ensure that secure future.
Except I know life comes with no guarantees. I know I cannot protect them from everything and they will have disappointments and hurts well beyond my control. Thus far they are doing well and I am enormously proud of them. But I wonder if I am in the realm of an okay parent at this point. I must be, right? They still talk to me. They still come by for dinner. They still borrow camping equipment.
A mother’s worry never seems to end. Only now instead of thinking about them being bullied or getting decent grades it is whether or not I am okay, they are okay, and are we okay together. I think so. I hope so. At this point it seems right to accept that all is well and not worry about it.
Or so I tell myself when the anxiety voices start whispering in my brain. STFU anxiety voices; my brain works better when it’s quiet.