Our Children are Not Us

Sara and Sim

So, here’s one of my new life lessons: Our children are not us. Despite the fact that we walked the floor when they had colic, woke up at 3 am to feed them, potty trained them, held their little hands as they learned to walk, kissed their boo-boos and put Disney band-aids on them, dressed them in clean little outfits,  helped with homework, car pooled them from one place to another, disciplined and comforted, paid for medical bills, cleaned up vomit, stayed up all night with fevers and science projects, grew calluses on our rears from years watching soccer/basketball/softball games/parade presentations/dance recitals/school plays, slogged through puberty and tantrums… Not to mention worrying when they went out at night and not being able to sleep until they came in. Or spending so much time at the school volunteering or advocating or apologizing or just plain pushing that some folk thought we were employees and we should have been receiving a paycheck from the school district — ultimately our children are their own beings who will make their own choices and live their own lives.

Considering the investment, that kind of sucks.

But it’s kind of good too. When a grandparent asks me with an appalled look on her face, “How could (fill in the blank) do (fill in the blank)?” I can say, “I don’t know. Their choice.” And on the other hand, when one of my children does something really responsible I can say, “Wow! I’m so proud of how you handled that!” Okay — and occasionally I’ll take credit for having raised them well. I think I deserve that.

My son is home for the holidays and his sister will be here soon. Neither of them are fully financially independent. So despite their protestations of being “grown” there is the tendency for their father and me to believe that we still call the shots. That’s just an illusion, though. We are really on the sidelines of their lives at this point. We can help financially, and we are willing to do so, to help them achieve their goals.   We can offer advice. We can make suggestions. We can draw boundaries. It’s smart to do so. But they will become who they will become. And even though that’s a little hard for me to get my head around, that was the point of raising them, after all.

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5 thoughts on “Our Children are Not Us

  1. This is so poignant to read. I am at the beginning of this journey as my son is just about to turn 5. The time is flying by and this time with him, where I feel like he is “mine” or an extension of myself, is so fleeting. I will be giving him to the world in August when he goes to kindergarden and it breaks my heart that this is the beginning of my journey on the sidelines of his life. I love this ittle guy and I hate that others will get to spend the majority of their day with him and not me. Yes, I am THAT mom. But, as you stated, our job really is to bring them into this world and help them to gain this independance. We did not bring them into this world to forever remain dependant on us and to use us as a mirror of their own reflection. You nailed it on the head stating that they ARE NOT us, and realizing this is such a necessity in allowing them to go; to breath on their own. How is it that motherhood is so rewarding and so heart breaking at the same time?!? Thank you for these Blog posts. They are helping me to see the journey ahead and to emotionally put things in perspective.

    • The amazing thing, Jennifer, is that the feelings you have as you release your son to kindergarten, isn’t that different from the feelings I had releasing my son at 18! So glad my sharing is helpful. I started this blog to find a way to put words to this motherhood journey. Thanks for sharing yours.

  2. Sad but so true. So many times I said “my child would never” only to eat those words when they did. They are individuals whether we like it or not.

  3. Hello Mrs. Natalie,
    Amen!!! I couldn’t have said any of this any better:)) Your children have grown up to be very beautiful adults. God Bless You and Your Family. Have a Very Blessed/Prosperous New Year!!!—-Gigi

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