Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

It's so hard being a parent. Letting go. Standing back. Watching.

And I missed so much of my kids' lives, so now when I see my kids spreading their wings it just tells me how much is gone. But I keep telling them I want them to grow up. I want them to experience life and learn about life and learn how to live life.

My only feeble defense for the things I've done in the past and the choices I've made is that I feel you teach you kids how to live their lives by living your own. I think the big mistake my generation as parents have made is giving up their entire lives for their kids. Giving up everything to drive them to soccer games and ballet lessons and hockey practice. Giving up their own dreams and aspirations for their kids.

But, the day my oldest left for college I was playing the Dixie Chicks in the car. Playing? I was blasting them. And this song aways brings tears to my eyes. Because it just nails what it means to be young and starting out on your life, or conversely, it acknowledges to a parent that a part of their life is over.

But even harder is supporting your kid in something she wants to do that you wouldn't choose. Someone I know actually had this conversation with her son:

Mom: What do you want to do? You have to choose.

(So he chooses.)

Mom: That's the wrong choice.

What the hell does that teach him? Except lie to his mother?

Your kids are going to live their own lives; you can't live them for them. And now, my youngest is choosing to do the one thing I thought she wouldn't do. She's choosing not to play on her school softball team. Instead, she's working on the semi-formal committee. (And playing volleyball, but that's something else entirely. Volleyball is really cool; I had no idea until I started watching it.)

The semi-formal committee? She's helping choose a theme for a dance. A color-scheme. It wouldn't have been my first choice.

Last year she was the Defensive MVP on the freshman team. I coached her all through town ball, from the time her first glove was about the size of my hand. We sat on a bench together when we didn't live together. We had that time to ourselves. She has talent. And I thought she loved the game. But now she said it's not any fun anymore. (Well, going 0 for whatever last season doesn't help.)

I tell her she has talent and she should use it. But then I think: it's her life. She's going to live it the way she wants. And I have no right to tell her how to live it. The one thing I can do is support her 100% in whatever she wants to do. After all, she was eight years old and stood by me...eight years old...when adults were jumping ship like rats.

She's quite a kid. She's quite a person.

So, I guess the best thing to do is give her her wide open spaces to move.


Willa Shaffer said...

This is wonderful, insightful, mature! (Being a parent does not ensure maturity, as we've all observed...)

Your daughter is lucky. So are you.

So am glad to have discovered your it!

John Greiner-Ferris said...

willa, thanks...i'm

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