My thoughts drift to a heated discussion about parenting during a small group meeting taking place at my house several years ago. A friend was having a hard time with my laissez-faire hands-off parenting approach. It was so intense one of our other friends felt the need to mediate us to a close. We all look back on that night with love and grace. Somehow I’ve managed to surround myself with some really good women.
One good woman has mentored me for almost 20 years, now, and she can remember me as the mom who controlled everything. She remembers needing to tell me to “let go, you are driving your kids crazy” and point out some character traits in them that could directly correlate to my smothering. Ugh. Such is life when parenting is motivated by ego.
As the years have gone by and my understanding of life has changed, our kiddos have developed into two men and a woman who stand on their own, spiritually awake. We showed them the door to their own souls and they passed through. One of my favorite parenting ideas comes from Khalil Gibran who shares “our children come through us, not for us”. They are “nature’s longing for itself”.
As parents in recovery, Rick and I were able to easily let our kiddos make, and hold the consequences of, their choices. We have a heightened awareness of the dis-ease of co-dependency and we know the only way to peace is to let everyone own their own lives. They grew up knowing if they ended up in jail, no need to call mom and dad, we’d be waiting at home to greet them with love, a hug, and maybe some grub, after they figured their way out of their dilemma. Yet there have been stories told from the safety of their now adulthood that have left me with, “And you didn’t call me?!” reverberating in my brain – but not uttered out loud. Despite details that may try to sway us into believing we are needed to rescue, their lives are independently theirs.
But one day, our girl child did call. She called when it mattered. She called because her trust in her family was strong and she knew only family could help this time.
It was a usual morning for me, at our office, reading emails, strategizing the growth of our business. I was surprised when the phone rang and I saw Jen’s face and number. Even more surprised when I said “Hey!” and all I got back was the quiet sound of what I know is my daughter hyperventilating on the other end. I’d only experienced that sound one other time, but that is another post.
In my best don’t-show-your-cards-and-let-Jen-hear-your-fear-voice I gave her space to calm down with, “It’s ok, honey, I’m here.” After what seemed like a gulf of lifetime, her breath hitched and she was able to stumble out some words that let me know she was sitting in her car, in a parking lot, trying to make sense of the events of the previous night. Her and her fiance had had a fight and she shared the details. She also shared bits and pieces of what could only be interpreted as ongoing domestic violence. Wow.
They had been together for over a year and engaged most of it. Her wedding day was less than 3 months away. Deposits had been placed, dresses bought, the wedding procession layed out. And here she was, sharing with typical Jen articulation, clear, hopeful, caring, the details of a situation that had the potential of a very difficult life. Keep it together, mom. And so the words dropped in, the kind that come from nowhere, filled with the peace that only holy love can conjure up. “Jen,” I said, “I can’t tell you what to do. Only you can decide what you want, what you are willing to live with.”
I went on to share there is no magical line one crosses after marriage that changes a person into a husband, into a father, a provider. Into a loving person. We all come to the chapel as we are. The question is, “Are you willing to marry him, love him, cherish him. Are you willing to love and except this relationship?” Moments passed, and I was willing to whole-heartedly accept and support whatever I heard. Then the quiet, “Mom, I can’t.” … and I rejoiced silently.
I didn’t rejoice over her making what I would judge the right decision. I rejoiced because she called. I rejoiced because she could treat the situation with love, that I could. I rejoiced because in a crazy, world-drop-away moment I stood on what I know is my truth: our baby girl came into this world, not for me, but as a seed of the universe, to grow into the beauty she is, and she was showing some beautiful fruit.