When Neal and I attended Parent Orientation for Ryan’s high school the principal gave a speech that he gives every year to incoming freshmen parents. In that speech he takes a pause as if he is hearing something and says, “What is that? Oh, it is the snapping of the umbilical cords.” Which leads into a loving but firm talk about letting your children go and become young men.
Of course with becoming young men they have to learn to be independent, make mistakes, accept the consequences and then be trusted to do the right thing. I’d like to think Neal and I have a pretty good handle on this (so far, catch me when one of these ‘mistakes’ takes place). The key component is trust. Do I trust the abilities of my children? Do I trust that I have given them the proper tools in life to be independent and make good decisions?
I’ve been spending a lot of time with Seth these past few days and last night I made a comment to him about the time he spent on the computer. Immediately he heard me and turned the computer off. Later the next morning I saw that the computer had been used again and made a comment to him about it.
“Ryan used it for homework last night. Gosh mom, you don’t trust me,” he said and looked dejected.
“That has nothing to do with trust,” I retorted.
“Yeah it does. You told me to get off and I did. You didn’t trust that I wouldn’t get back on because you immediately thought it was me even though you know Ryan was doing homework.”
What could I say? He was right. He didn’t fight me about getting off the computer. He obeyed me and I repaid him by assuming he wasn’t going to follow through. Later this made me think about the same dynamic I seem to have now with my own parents. Though I am a 40 year old adult there seems to be a lack of trust somewhere in the relationship at times that leaves me frustrated and resentful and I respond as a child desperate to snap that umbilical cord. Trust me to do the right thing, I feel my spirit wanting to shout.
What resounded as I took this into prayer was this, ” YOU ARE 40 YEARS OLD.” 😉 Right? I’m 40… old enough, and quite capable I might add, to be trusted to make an informed and knowledgable choice or decision. I can choose to be in the midst of chaos or I can choose to stay clear. I can choose to be in an environment that is unhealthy or I can choose to surround myself with people that offer mutual respect and appreciation of one another’s gifts, talents and capabilities.
I love and respect my parents deeply. I can even sympathise with the fact that they will never stop loving me as my parent. I think that is one fear that keeps a parent tethered to the ‘umbilicial chord’…that one day they won’t be needed by their child and will be forgotten. You make them too independent then they don’t need you anymore. I get that. I hear Ryan tell me all the time how he is moving NORTH as soon as he graduates and I feel the ice cold fear of abandonment set in. He’ll never want to come home, I think irrationally.
As my boys are getting older I’m needed less and that hurts a little bit. Yet, I can see that in my own parents too. I don’t see them as often as they like (or I might like) or maybe as much as I should. We are busy with our lives and the communication lacks. The bond needed for a healthy adult relationship suffers because the only time we have to foster a relationship is quick moments during holidays. And when the time is given it is spent muddled with confusion and resentment because no one knows where they stand, are we parent, child, adult, or friend. Both sides question: Do you like me? Do you know me? Do you respect me and is it mutual?
I know this dynamic will soon whether its course and play out. I watched my father and uncles take care of their mother, who at times still treated them as children, and other times accepted their help as grown, capable adults. It could possibly be a part of the great circle of life but I know one things clear – communication is key once the umbilical cord is snapped.