I scanned through the pics of a young woman that I know and love. They are full of her dressed and performing like a trained seal. She is in adult clothes, adult situations, constantly with either adults, or with children much younger than herself. She writes and says all the right things but missing is all the evidence of her being a child …her having her own interests, her own time, her own friends her own age. Missing is her life.
It is all their life. Their plans for her, now so superimposed on her and over her that there is almost no recognizable sign of a little girl that I once knew who laughed and embraced life like no-one else I had ever seen.
In the pictures is an older male. He is too old for her, inappropriate for a young man in his 20’s to be cuddling a young girl while the family members comment on what a cute couple they make. She is not even old enough to date in most of the pictures.
From the moment they collected her, they owned her.
She is merely an extension of themselves, meant to enhance their ideas, their beliefs, their lives.
I compare her to my granddaughter who is staying with us. Her parents have stood by her as she made mistakes and struggled to find herself. They kept her alive, they kept her safe but there are indeed bumps and bruises. She talks about them. She takes responsibility for them, she knows she will not repeat the experiences that brought them to her. She has her whole life ahead of her. She was opportunities and she believes she is capable of making her own way because her parents loved her enough to teach her she was worth it and then they supported her to find it … Without them. They did not call us with a list of instructions on what they expected her to do here. They accept that she will figure it out and whatever she decides, is her life and they will be fine with it.
I watch her stepping into her life, owning it, finding her feet and I smile at the circle of life and remember the struggles along the way. This is what it is all about.
She knows she is loved.
She knows she is her own person.
She has choices.
It is her life.
I do not understand parents who own and control their children. Compliance is the breaking of a spirit. It is containment. One young woman stands bowed and broken and one is ready to fly and both these young women will be part of where this world goes from here.
We come from such different places and I think about how both of these young women will interpret the world around them, how they will interact with it, how they will influence it.
I believe that everyone has the right to fly. I believe it is our responsibility as parents to prepare our children to do exactly that, and then to love them enough to let them go.
I am so grateful to my son who has done that for his daughter. He cried when she left … not tears of sadness, but of joy, because seeing someone step into their own life, to begin that journey without the training wheels, is one of the most amazing experiences we are allowed in this life. It validates everything. It is life.