It's 2 AM, the day after my daughter turned 17 and I'm awake for the second night in a row. What preys so heavily on my mind that I'm unable to turn off and rest? Last night while wondering the exact same thought, I found this question on this Ezine, and I sat here and wrote a nice long essay, overflowing with trite and meaningless cliches. I poured my thoughts into what makes the perfect parent, as if I'm an expert, and forgot to pour in my heart and soul.
Chastised for submitting a "solid" piece, it was considered a "mismash of generic sayings"..a polite way of saying 'garbage'. And so it was. I thought little of it til I found myself once again deja vous, same time, same place, same Ezine. And here I am. Perhaps it's the lack of sleep, or perhaps it's the passing of another year in my child's life, but tonight as I ponder what is the parent's role, I have to ask myself if I really know.
She wasn't born with instructions tattoed on her, no warning labels; "by breaking the seal on this creature you agree to the terms of the parenting agreement", do not store in temperatures over 110 degrees". I remember fearing her, thinking she'd never last a year with the mistakes I knew I was making. I dropped her once, I didn't keep her on a schedule, I let her eat junk! Dr. Spock kept the changing table level. But, I had never been happier than when I had this precious life to be responsible for, and I WANTED so very much to do 'all the right things'. I read every article, every parenting tip; 'read' not necessarily followed. I plundered through every day always in the back of my mind thinking at the very least to do everything the exact opposite of what my mother had done. To be sure that was the secret, above all else, make her better than me.
I look at her today, a young lady, sweet, considerate, smart, generous to a fault. Did I do that, or is she that way in spite of me? People tell me all the time how very wonderful my daughter is, and I don't know how to respond. "Thank you" says I did it, "I know" says conceit; I usually say, "Yes, I'm quite fortunate".....as if I won her in a lottery. I have attempted to be what I felt she needed, and we've had a good relationship. I've been honest with her, and I've made her mad, she's honestly made ME mad as well. I've made my share of mistakes, and I know I'm going to make some more. I've let HER make mistakes and prayed that she learned from them. But, I've loved her the best I know how and I have to believe that it will be enough. She seems happy and I KNOW that she realizes she can always count on me. She'll be going off to college all too soon, and I wonder if she's ready to be on her own, or do I wonder if I'm ready?
What is the role of parents today? I thought knew two days ago, damned if I do now. I just hope I succeeded.