I’m not sure why but I’ve never been comfortable riding with my boys on the interstate. They’re great drivers. No accidents. I have no problem riding with them on the highways or streets. Even Omaha. Interstate driving has always just made me a little twitchy.
I think it’s a great metaphor for a mom as her children grow and mature. You have to put them in the driver’s seat of their own lives more and more. Even the fast lane of life. Like when they graduate college and they go off and get their own home, job, insurance. Aaron gave me a great compliment the other day saying I wasn’t a lawnmower mom. I don’t go ahead of them smoothing out the way. But what he doesn’t know is that I want to.
I always knew sending them out the door to college and life that they could fall flat on their face. In some ways I expected it. That way I was prepared for it if it did happen. (I don’t advise thinking this way.) How do you do this as a mom? How do you let go? How do you let them fail? In our society we’ve fallen into this trap that if our kids fail, rebel, or really mess up its the parents fault. Because of this parents have to make sure that the kids never fail, rebel or mess up and this doesn’t end when they become adults. For many, they never stop making sure their children have smooth lives.
I was the rebellious child. I not only rebelled but I really messed up, and failed at life for a few years. Because of that experience I can fully say, it’s not always the parents fault. In my instance it had nothing to do with my parents. I made my own choices. I had traumatic things happen to me that led me to make more bad choices. What turned me around? I got tired of the consequences of my bad choices. I started to make changes.
I never once blamed my parents. I think it starts when the children are young. Give them chores and responsibilities. Let them figure the hard stuff out. I was raised this way. I raised my boys this way. Don’t always clear a path for them or do hard tasks for them. Let them experience little failures in the safety of your home. If they break a glass cleaning up the table or putting dishes in the dishwasher. Teach them to clean it up. Look for teaching moments and provide them for your kids.
Show your kids true love and affection but let them have room to grow. Don’t smother them. Don’t entwine them to you in relationships where they are fulfilling your need for connection or companionship. Find your own friends and let them find friends too.
I have sworn I will never beg my kids to come home. I want them to want to come home. I will never make them feel guilty for wanting a life of their own. Isn’t that what we are raising them up to be? Responsible adults with lives of their own? Ben is working out of town over Christmas break. We don’t get this last break with him but he came home this weekend and, as is his way, at one point this weekend he just walked up to me and wrapped me in his arms and held on tight. He’s the best hugger of the bunch. He knows Mom misses him. He also knows Mom loves him and the last thing I would do is tie him to me. I gave my boys wings but I also gave them a nest to come back to. Anytime.