Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Ever-Changing Role

There's no handbook.

Parenting is a learn-as-you-go process, with much of what you start out doing (for the good or the bad) is what your parents did. Or, much of what you swear you won't do as a parent is from those same experiences.

Parenthood changes you. From the minute that baby is placed into your arms, nothing is ever the same again. You are completely and totally responsible for another human life. Exciting. Horrifying. Enlightening. Sobering.

A baby changes everything.

And so you go. From day to day, through the stages of infancy, through babyhood, into the toddler years. Then its preschool, elementary school, through adolescence and the turbulent teens, and finally into adulthood. And then... you start to try to let go, at least a little, as you send them away to college. And who would guess that letting go could be so hard?

I remember thinking when my girls were babies that it sure would be easier when they were a little older, walking and talking. Then they began walking... and I began running.

Then I recall thinking it will be easier when they get into school, that their days would be more structured and they would learn and grow and make friends and, well...then came homework and tests and frustrations and bad influences and hurt feelings. And I struggled between letting them fall and picking them up.

Life got more complicated as I became the single parent of two teen aged girls, and became a chauffeur, a counselor, a cheerleader, a coach, a friend, and an enemy and I recall thinking "things will get easier", maybe when they get their license, maybe when they go to college.

Yeah, right.

Now, both of my girls are young adults, and my role as a parent has turned into more of an observer, especially for my oldest who is now married and about to become a mother.

I watch them struggle with decisions and start to open my mouth and then have to bite my tongue! Or sometimes I don't...and realize that I can't just jump in like this anymore. I have to wait until I am asked for an opinion, and not give unsolicited advice. (And I fail at this a great deal) I want to share my knowledge and experience. I want to say "do this" or "don't do that".

But I have to keep repeating to myself that I am who I am because of my experiences. I am a combination of my successes and failures. And I learned more from my mistakes than my successes--and in fact, we all learn more from our failures and it is those lessons that lead us to our successes.

And yet, even though I may know these things...I still want to mentor, teach, encourage, protect and even defend everything about my baby girls, who are not babies anymore. And in fact, I am learning that now, not only am I more of an observer, the roles between mother and daughter are reversing.

I am learning things from them now. They are teaching me. Both have had more experiences, lived and traveled and done more things at their age than I had by the same age. Both are opening my mind to new ways of thinking politically and socially. I am continuing to be exposed to new concepts and ideas as I continue to learn acceptance, tolerance and new ways of doing things.

I've heard the saying that a good teacher knows success when their student goes further than they have. Because the cool thing about teaching (and parenting) is; you can give all your love and knowledge away and yet you still have it! But you can watch it grow bigger and stronger in the ones you have given it to!

My oldest daughter, now with child will be a great mom. As will my younger daughter when it is her time. Both of them will be better than I was, because they will take the best of me and the best of them and their dad.

And me?

I will do my best to adjust to this ever-changing role from parent to grandparent' and to accept and forgive myself for the mistakes I've made and continue to relish wherever this road leads.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I don't like Springtime

I really don't want to sound negative when I say I don't like Spring. Especially when those around me are acting like giddy school-children on these rare sunny, pleasant days we've been having around here lately. Me? I'm just being a realist. Or maybe I should say a cautious optimist. I've lived in this part of the country my whole life, and like Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown, I'm just not going to fall for it so soon.

March comes along and we get a glimpse of what is to come.  We get a a thaw...the sun comes out for one, maybe two days in a row and in desperation we pull out our shorts and sandals. You see tops down on convertibles (even though the heat is on full blast) and folks heading to the golf course. I want to say- "warning warning Will Robinson...don't get your hopes up! "Don't switch the wardrobe and put the sweaters away! Don't fall for it! It's not over yet!" Yet I...hopefully, do the same.

Then Lucy pulls the ball away.

After 3 days of paradise; 3 days of thinking maybe the worst is over; one weekend of mowing and planting,  the weather forecast calls for  plummeting temperatures, sleet and snow. Your plants have to be covered, you are back to scraping ice off the car window.

Spring is a big fat tease.

It gives you a taste of what you've been dying for, only to pull it away from you when it is just within your reach. March 20th comes and goes...daytime temperatures lag behind by several weeks, because the earth and sea (or in our case, the lake) take time to warm up. And then April's showers come and my backyard with my two loping, frolicking dogs turn it into a mud-pit. Spring for a dog owner means yard clean up and lots of paw wiping. It is the season of mud.

So for those of you who love spring, and think its the most wonderful time of the can have it! I will enjoy the days we are lucky to get with a vengeance. I will soak in the sun for my much needed vitamin D production, and I will wait through this one for my other favorite seasons, which order Summer, Fall and Winter...followed by Spring.

Little Darlin', it HAS been a long cold lonely winter. And I can't wait for the return of consistently pleasant days. And when they arrive, I will be one happy girl! But in the meantime, I will prepare for the cold, hope for the warm, and not be frustrated or surprised or angry by much that happens in between.

Happy Spring! :-)