My life's lesson should be etched on my brain because I keep forgetting it, and that simple act of "forgetting" triggers some cosmic event involving one of my children, to which I respond improperly, which provokes parental-child angst, which forces me to remember "my lesson" all over again. This weekend it was an event with my son J that eventually whacked me back into alignment. The thromping always hurts, and not less each time, like you might suppose would happen, considering that I have plenty of practice righting myself while apologizing. It hurts more because I replay the memory of each last mistake while living in the new one.
This one started on Friday night. The whole family went to a dinner in honor of one of LSU's best alumni fundraisers-- a dear friend of ours and the children's surrogate grandfather. I was proud of all of us for showing up, despite having to meet a report deadline that night, in R's case; despite no babysitter and little grandchildren in attendance, in D & B's case; and despite it taking up a chunk of a Friday night, in J's case.
So, there I was basking in the glow of my priorities-in-alignment-family when J and I began to hyperfocus on each other. He thought I was moving too fast, and talking too loud, and I thought he seemed a little too pulled apart, at loose ends; discombobulated. I'm like Pavlov's Dog. Once I see what I think are signs of a lack of focus, I start drilling him on his life. How's school? Is he going to class? Is he studying? How are his grades? Should he be going to that outdoor concert, on Spring Break, or out later, for that matter? This despite him getting great grades last semester, and "Acing" all of his tests last week.
This makes him talk louder, move quicker and back away. The last text I received from him before bed that night was, "there is always some sort of miscommunication between us."
Now that hurts.
But even if these recent academic accomplishments were lacking, I mean, really, is it my nagging that is going to steer him on the right course?
Of course not.
So, what is my life's lesson? My life's lesson is to love by letting go.
My lesson comes from the pain I inflict on myself and my loved ones when I try to control them. It's not like I want to keep J -- or anyone else for that matter -- from having fun. Really. It's just that I don't want him to do anything that would make him experience something bad. So: go to class everyday; do your homework; get enough sleep; don't overdo it; find a nice girl; and then you won't: get bad grades; drop your classes; flunk out of school; lose your scholarship; be arrested; get hurt-- all of which have happened by the way.
I used to think that my behavior was normal for a mother. And maybe it is. But? I realize -- over and over again, unfortunately -- that if he doesn't experience these "bad" things, or others like them for himself, he won't be able to learn the life skills to be able to achieve the very things I want for him. And what I want for him is to be able to manage his own life and be happy.
It's not when will he ever learn?
It's when will I ever learn?
It's not the things I want for him.
It's the things he wants for himself.