If you are a parent, you know that there is no greater worry than your kids. You worry from the time they are little and you worry till they are grow and far away from home. This does not go away in any form, in fact, I think it gets worse once the they get older and all control is gone.
The first time my son stepped foot in a car without me and drove to school for the first time on his own, there was that realization that I could no longer control something that he did. I wasn’t the one driving the car and taking him and dropping off, he was taking care of himself for the first time. This relinquishing of control (especially a control freak like me) was one of the hardest stepping stones in his life. Well let me tell you, that was just the beginning. First the car, then a job, then a girl, then college, letting go never stops, and neither does the worry.
That worry comes from wanting to protect our kids from any possible danger, be it physical or mental. Obviously the car situation comes from not wanting them to gravely injure themselves or someone else, but the mental anguish that comes from life experiences creates every bit as much worry as the possible physical injury stuff. I mean just this week, my daughter is running for a position in student government and the mental anguish that she and I both have gone through thus far will forever be known as “election hell week.” Because here is the thing, she wants this position more than anything and the disappointment that may come with failure is nearly more that I can stand. Heartbreak doesn’t just come from a boy, failure hurts no matter the source.
This source is her passion. She experienced something this year that touched her in ways that people only dream about. She found something that resonates with her in ways I couldn’t even have imagined when I was fifteen. And now, there is this chance that she will lose and then what? Does she lose her self? Does she lose what defines her? Will she shrivel up into a small ball of broken feelings, never to try again?
Truthfully I know this will not happen. She tried three times over the last three years for this position and only made it once. In fact, twice in a row she didn’t get in and then, as they say, “third time was the charm.” She has learned incredible life experience, leadership skills, lifelong friendships and above all that she is doing a job that is greater than herself.
So now to the real reason for this post. The selfish reason that I want her to make it. I want the worry to go away. I want her to make it so I don’t have to worry about her anymore or how her heart will simply break if she fails in this endeavor. How will I fix it for her if what she defines as herself breaks? God, the things we would do for our kids just to make it so their hearts don’t hurt. But, I can’t control this, no more than I can control my son learning to drive on his own.
I guess that is what it really comes down to. We all have to let them learn and fail and grow and win. But every single damn time it hurts us parents just as much, if not more than them. We made these tiny little beings and want to protect them from every hurt scrape and heartbreak that life will certainly throw their way. If only we could. The only thing I can do now is be there. That is really all we can really do is be there in whatever capacity they need us. To talk, to cry, to listen, to build them back up, or even go eat gallons of ice cream till the hurt goes away. And above all to let them know that failure doesn’t define them or us for our failure to protect them.
I can only hope that I have given my kids enough that they know to never give up and try again and again for what they dream about. And although the worry never goes away, I am damn proud to worry again and again to watch them turn into these wonderful humans I get to call my kids.
Sorry for the prolonged absence from the blogosphere, life gets in the way!