Sunday, May 15, 2011

Journey of independence

Last night I read a Facebook post from a very nervous new mom whose preemie has learned to roll over and sleep on her tummy. Mother is so worried and probably didn't sleep a wink all night. I know that feeling. I don't think I slept a full night all through my kids' childhoods. I would drink a full glass of water before bed so that I would wake up during the night to make sure my babies were breathing and their toes were tucked in. When they were seven and ten, I was still downing that last glass of water after the late news.

There is a fine balance between letting go and hanging on. Looking back, I think I held too tightly to my children, but I wasn't nearly as controlling as my mother who continued to have an influence in our lives as the children grew up. She was a nervous Nellie who always feared the worst would happen. She thought prevention was better than cure therefore, she and I both limited opportunities for our kids.

Many years ago, my best friend's sixteen year old daughter was a summer nanny for a wealthy couple who took her with them to Europe on their vacation. My big concern at that time was whether or not to allow my sixteen year old daughter to go to the mall unattended. I would never have considered allowing my kids to be so far away.

My mothering was somewhere between protective and overprotective. I wonder if my actions helped or hindered them.

Hubby says he raised his kids with this comment: "I trust you'll do the right thing." My comments were lengthy and detailed and ended with, "You'd BETTER do the right thing." His two daughters and my daughter and son all tested their limits and as adults, now admit to doing things we would have sworn they didn't. Which parenting style was best is hard to say. They all survived and we did too.

This morning when the alarm blared at 5:00 a.m. hubby and I rushed through our morning routine and out the door with camera in hand. The robin who built her nest on our carport flew away, leaving her four fledglings exposed to the elements
(45 degrees and drizzling). Their little heads popped up and their mouths opened wide in a beg. My mother instincts kicked in and I wanted to rush to our garden and help her dig up a worm so she could quickly return to her nest.

In the stillness of the early morning, just as the sky was lightening, I was reminded of all the times my kids begged and I responded with an automatic mother-NO. Not to food, heaven knows they fed half the neighborhood kids the way this mother bird feeds her young. But I do believe I said no too often.

As we pulled into the school parking lot we saw two charter buses idling and a hundred or more sixth and seventh graders bustling about, girls (and boys) clutching teddy bears and pillows, Game Boys and I pods. I looked at the parents mingling on the sidelines snapping photos as their children stashed their luggage in the belly of the buses and climbed those steps on a journey toward independence. Granddaughter number three is headed to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama for a week. We've never seen her smile as broad as she did this morning. Two weeks ago she was one dissapointed little girl. The trip had been cancelled due to tornado damage down south. Now she is on her way. We sent her off with a hug and a prayer.

As we drove away, I heard a whisper from my past, "That bus could crash, or a tornado could rip through again, she's too far away for you to help if something happens..." I then heard another voice, "She'll be fine, I have her in My hands."

15 comments:

Margaret said...

Wonderful and filled with wisdom. :)

Allison Schreiber Lee said...

Thank you for those words: "I have her in My hands."
From one protective/overprotective mother to another,
Allison

K9friend said...

So very true. I'm also a nervous Nellie, always fearing the worst. My mom and Grandma were the same.

Recently my daughter informed me that because of the way she was raised, she always considers every possible scenario in a situation and prepares herself for it. She actually thanked me for that! So the question remains... is worrying a product of nature or of nurture?

Pat
www.critteralley.blogspot.com

Susan said...

Oh Lord, Linda. Your post was right on! I was way too protective (my kids'd probably say ' meddling.'ha ha) As most mothers, I did the best I could with what I had. There were thousands of sacrifices made, that's for sure. I loved with every fiber of my being and all my heart, probably like you.

We cannot go back to right all the wrongs but we can still continue to do our best...and, as you said, to leave them in the hands of their Heavenly Father. Best place for ALL of us to be! Susan

Tammy said...

Oh, did you ever sum up that push-pull of parenthood. Lovely.

Sioux said...

The ending brought tears to my eyes, and I'm a hard-shelled _____ most of the time, so THAT'S saying something...

(Perhaps I'm a little more Hallmark-Special-emotional than usual because our youngest just graduated from college yesterday, and within a few weeks, he'll be gone to a new "home" and a professional job across the state? Or is it all due to your writing talent? You decide!)

Margo Dill said...

Katie did just fine last night. :) Yes, I have years of being overprotective to go. . .

Sioux said...

I forgot to say...I'm more like you than Bill. I even occasionally threaten that I will haunt them from my grave--or haunt them in THEIR grave---if they do anything really stupid.

Which kid deserves trust? The thing is, parents like you and me TRUST that they'll veer off sometimes. We just need to remind them that we know, that we've been there...

Ms.Daisy said...

Linda,
I was most definitely an overprotective Mom and I wouldn't do it any other way. We are given a responsibility and we do it to the very best of our ability. I agree He has always had them in His hands.

~Jean
Thanks for stopping by and leaving me those nice comments on my Book Blurb!

June Freaking Cleaver said...

When I got my first full-time job (my girls were already in elementary school), I would have a mini-panic attack if I saw any ambulance headed to or from whatever direction they were in.

I 'what iffed' myself like crazy.

With The Boy, I have elevated my nervous anticipation and worry to a brand new level.

The last thing my father said to me before he died was, "Don't worry so much"...and I have struggled with it in the 28 years since I received that bit of advice.

Val Thevictorian said...

I always check on my boys before I go to bed, and if I wake up in the middle of the night.

When the youngest was one, I put him to bed with what I thought was the beginnings of chicken pox. I woke up at 1:00 a.m., and found him puffed up like a blowfish from an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin he was taking for an ear infection. My mom was spending the night while my husband was in Wales on business. We packed up both boys and rushed to the new ER that had opened just five miles from my house. After two hours of struggling without success to insert the IV the doctor wanted, the nurses gave my boy a shot that they had been arguing for instead. Another two hours, and he was well enough to go home.

Lots of "coincidences" that night. What if I didn't wake up at 1:00? What if I was alone to load a sick baby and a toddler into the car? What if I had to drive 20 miles to the regular ER? What if the nurses didn't stand up to the doctor?

I always check. But I don't do the water-drinking thing.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, it's tough, that need to protect our children and that desire to give them wings to fly happily away.

But sometimes, I think my kids survived, DESPITE my mothering-:-)

P.S. SUCH a cutie in your new pic! Well, okay, you're both cuties-;-)

Odie Langley said...

Great post Linda. Back in 1991 my middle daughter Karen left NC for a year in Germany as an exchange student for her senior year of high school. It was a trying time for her as she struggled to understand the language enough to get by but it did finally click in & for the last half of her adventure she was speaking fluent German. While at home we were worried to death that she would be sick and need us or want to see us and knowing it was too far and expensive. We agonized for that year but she finally came home and we now realize how wonderful an experience it was for her.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for sharing, Linda. Parenting has a way of stretching our character and faith, doesn't it? I am pretty sure I learned at least as much as my kids did when they were growing up. :)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

I let go and cry when I'm alone. LOL Both my older kids are successfully launched (my youngest will be a HS senior in the fall), and I've told them both, "I don't want to be THAT mom. So I won't pick up the phone to call you very often. You call me when you want to talk." And you know what? They call me all the time. I talk to my daughter Stephanie more now (she calls every day between 5 & 5:15 on her drive home from work) than I did when she lived at home. LOL Letting go is tough...but it makes a Mama proud, too, doesn't it, when our chicks fly and fly well. :) They don't have to know we still worry. . .all the time. . .