I think I learned a valuable lesson from watching the couple with their new baby in the Safeway parking lot. A bump in the road is not the end of the world; one can’t protect one’s child from life (or heartbreak or swatting at a bee and driving through a pole or just feeling sad), and sometimes (most times) the bumps and the cracks (not the pole) are what make the journey worthwhile.
My friend Elaine who is the Executive Director of the California Counseling Institute sent me an article she wrote called Endings. Elaine, in my opinion, is a living angel. We met at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco (almost 20 years ago) at Kelly’s first (and only) ballet class. Kelly was three and spent the entire class in her little black leotard and pink tutu under my chair. It turned out Elaine and I had a lot in common; our husbands worked for the same company and our daughters attended the same preschool, but what I loved about Elaine is that she didn’t judge Kelly or me because Kelly was under the chair, and she reassured me that Kelly’s angst was perfectly normal for a three year old ballerina.
Elaine sent the article on endings because of our impending empty nest, but I found it helpful in letting go of my need to constantly protect my children from the bumps and cracks (and the new roommates) in the road. Being worrywarts, Tony and I agonize over our children’s safety and well-being. If there is a problem, we immediately go into fix it mode. This is especially true with Kip because he is the oldest and we have been “learning on” him for 22 years. After watching the young couple with the baby and reading Elaine’s article, I said to Kip, from now on when you have a problem please tell me about it if you want to, but feel free to remind me to just listen and not try to fix things because I’m always going to be in fix it mode.
I would never wish hardship on anyone, but I’m realizing now, that we have cheated our kids a bit by steering them around the bumps in the road because of our own fears. If it had not been for Kelly’s three year old angst, I would have never met Elaine who has been a genuine blessing in my life.