As a parent you start with a bundle they hand you at the hospital. Only it takes but a few days for you to begin to see that this is not a blank page on which you get to write. This is not an empty glass you get to fill with those things that are important to you.
This child has its own ideas and needs. It has different interests and ways of being, and really, all you are is providing the environment in which this person will grow and develop into who they are meant to be.
Often the person they are meant to be challenges the very core of who you are meant to be, and so the process is a journey you both travel, with the wise parent learning, as well as teaching.
A child takes both physical and emotional journeys. Some are short and sweet, some are painful, some are long and epic. Fortunately, they often travel with their “emotional cell phone” constantly on and eagerly share their joys and struggles, but sometimes they shut us out and we can only wait, knowing they are on a journey of some sort that is not including us. We are home, waiting for them to get back, and share their experiences. We can only hope that they are ok. We pray they are alive.
At some point, our child leaves us in every way, and they go out into the world. We are acutely aware of their strengths and the areas where they are vulnerable. We are both afraid and excited for them and struggle with a balance of being that allows both of us to survive. Some of our children wander far away from their family and the things that are familiar. They get lost in a sea of personal choices that leave us feeling like failures and worried about the outcome. There is no rescuing an adult child who does not want to be rescued. Everything is changed except what we feel inside us as parents. The laws protect our children from us and no-one wants to hear a parents concern. Where once we might have been given an award for that kind of caring, we are suddenly “overbearing” and “meddlesome.”
Adult children have earned the right to be total and complete fuck-ups.
These are the difficult times when friends and family point fingers and turn backs and write people off. Parents are accused of being suckers and not seeing the truth in front of their eyes. Society looks upon parents who love their errant child with a label called “enabling” and often demand the parent walk away completely.
But how many parents can do that? Even if their feet carry them in the opposite direction or their loved ones load them in a car and drive away? So we ever really leave our children?
I don’t know how.
Because a parent knows that people are not a product. You don’t mix them, pour them into a pan, place them in an oven, bake them, decorate them and voila they are done. People are always a work in progress.
This week, the child, MY child that everyone wrote off . . . the child that the world hated, and that was expected to end up in an early grave for many reasons . . . was the person who stood strong and steadfast as the anchor to a sibling that needed her. Where we were weak, she was strong. Where we were angry, she was kind. Where we talked, she did. She took care of all of us. She drew on the depth of her soul, her experiences, and gave a love so fierce and strong, it pulled everyone together.
She took the journey she was meant to take. She did not give up.
She is the person I always knew her to be.
She is who I waited for all those many nights alone, to come home. I never gave up on her and no matter what form she was in as she stood in front of me, I could still see the real her inside.
She made a journey far away into a dark dark place and she alone found her way back from it.
She is my hero . . . my strength . . . and the biggest reason why none of us can ever look at someone else and write them off or consider them, or their lives, to be a waste.