“A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”
This year will be a year of ‘lasts’…. Today was the first of them: last ‘first day of school’.
When you have a child, it’s always ‘firsts’: first solid food; first smile; first word; first step; first day at school….. This year my only child finishes school. So I realised this year is a year of ‘lasts’: last school shoes purchased; last school fees; last ‘first day of school’; last drop off and pick up. Ever. That’s kind of sad 🙁
Truth is… I never really wanted kids … not like some women do. I was a bit blasé about it. I was fearful when I fell pregnant that I would have a girl: I said to my brother “I have no idea how to relate to a girl! Look at me and mum!!” He told me: “It won’t be the same kind of relationship. You’re not mum, and she’s not you.” And he was right. When she came along I wondered WHAT was I thinking? She is AMAZING! I’m only sorry that we were unable to have others – she would have made an awesome big sister, in the same way she’s been an awesome daughter. In the same way she is an awesome friend to her peers.
I’ve watched her over the years grow, develop, become a strong, independent, talented young woman. She has had some curve balls thrown at her over the last four years in particular and through it all she has managed to stay strong, resilient, and dealt with trials that would send many adults packing. This year she was invited to exhibit her photography in the local art gallery – quite a coup for a 16 year old. People said “You must be so proud of her”.
I’ve never really much liked that phrase. After all, this implies I had something to do with it. Being proud means to have a feeling of immense pleasure in one’s own achievements. I don’t think I did anything to contribute to her achievements. SHE should be proud … no doubt! Sure, we’ve helped her but what have we done that is any more than any other parent does for their child: give birth, nourish, keep safe, encourage, instil a sense of responsibility for her actions. But I’m not responsible for her abilities. But I am proud.
I’m proud I am her mother. I’m proud she chose ME of all others to be her gateway into this world, where she can then showcase HER talent, HER unique gifts, bring HER own special uniqueness and magic to the world.
“Successful” parenting is a double-edged sword. I love this person more than I ever thought possible. I don’t want her going anywhere but I know, once she’s done with school, her world will open up and she has so much to give it would be selfish to ‘stop’ her, to not release her into the world – frankly, a world that needs more people like her. When she came along I gave up my uni studies, left work and opened up my business so I could be with her and be there for her whenever she needed. As she grew we moved our family out west to a better school and a better place for her to grow up. But we know that once she’s had a taste of working in the real world next year, she’ll head off to uni. Living regionally this means she’ll be moving out of home and back to the city and we’ll see her only on breaks. She’ll be off, exploring, becoming her own person. That’s going to be tough …. but isn’t that what ‘successful’ parenting is meant to achieve? So on the one hand you don’t want this exceptional human being leaving you, but that’s precisely what all your endeavours have been geared towards. Production of an independent, stoical, empathic, strong person who will make a positive impact on community. If you’ve done that, you’ve done your job as a parent.
I’m excited to see “where to from here”. But I’m not kidding – it’ll be like losing a limb.
I guess I just have to trust that she enjoys being with us as much as we enjoy spending time with her and she’ll actually want to come back. I also know that as she experiences more ‘firsts’ in her life she’ll still need us – for guidance, support, encouragement. So perhaps things don’t really change THAT much. I have to trust that our relationship will change as she becomes an adult – as it must – where we relate adult to adult rather than as parent and child. And given the sort of person she is, I reckon that relationship is likely to be even better than the one we’ve had for the last 16 years.
© Earth Goddess Wisdom – www.earthgoddesswisdom.com