I would like to say a few words about the Offspring. They are truly delightful people: witty, caring, intelligent. Herself and I love them with a visceral devotion. There is no doubt that we would throw ourselves between Danger and the Offspring without hesitation: we would lay down our lives for them, unquestioningly.
Like all other young people, the Offspring are still developing into the individuals that they will be as adults - and this evolution requires, at times, moments of irritation, mild horror, disbelief, and frustration. There is no way to mentally will the Offspring to do certain things, or not to do certain other things. They are their own selves and no matter what we teach them, they will behave as they will.
We must walk the line between holding their hands and letting go. We must allow them them to fall, and yet be there to pick up the pieces and set them right again. We must put their needs ahead of our own, making daily sacrifices, both large and small.
Sometimes we feel that we are in danger of losing ourselves, no longer being a "me" but only being "someone's parent." We feel guilty when we do things without them, whether it be taking a walk by ourselves or talking with a friend for a few extra minutes. And yet, how can we give so much to them, if we do not take a little bit for ourselves on occasion?
Parenting is so difficult a job, and we often doubt our abilities. Are we doing the right things? Are we holding too tightly? Too loosely? Can we truly protect them from harm? Can we stand by and watch them make their own mistakes so that they will learn from them? We do the best that we can, and only time will tell what kind of adults the Offspring will become.
Adrienne Rich has captured the sentiments of the moment for us:
My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience. It is the suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness. Sometimes I seem to myself, in my feelings toward these tiny guiltless beings, a monster of selfishness and intolerance.
Grace, Part 2
2 days ago