“Boys break your house, girls break your heart.” Anon.
It seems to me that boys are brilliant at breaking things, or worse, themselves and girls are brilliant at breaking you, either way your parent-heart is a little bit dented every time. When it happens to me I carefully try and hammer out those ruts and pits from the inside in order to try and repair some of the damage. However much I try though, I’ve come to realise that I’m not an expert in heart restoration, trying to figure it out keeps me awake at night.
Last week was a case in point for us. Our son injured his back on the sports field again, so now rugby is out, cricket is out, football is out. It’s not a serious injury, just a reoccurring one that makes it painful for him to run or bend. The doctor suggests yoga or pilates. That’ll be fun – he’s twelve so I’m looking forward to breaking the news to him later when he gets in from school. Can anyone help me here? How do I sell this to him? (How will he keep it a secret from his friends?) The thing about back injuries, I am constantly reminded, is that they can cause problems in later life. I feel it is my parental duty to raise my son in such a way that he is at the very least able to walk when he leaves this nest.
Apart from him, our daughter decided on the same day that she didn’t want to live with us anymore. It was literally a dark and stormy night, the rain was lashing, and my dear husband was running up the driveway to go and look for her in the forest in his slippers and pj’s. It turned out that she had been hiding under the bed all along, I laughed with relief and cried with delayed shock, anger, fear etc. It’s scary how one’s imagination gets a bit carried away.
My husband’s work brings him into contact with people suffering in the dark realm of depression and suicide on a daily basis, so for him it’s not a far stretch from imagination into reality. That night he said he wants to resign from parenting, it’s getting too hard now. I know she’s not depressed, just a normal teenager and we have since resolved the argument. But it is so difficult to know what to do or say in order to get it right as a parent.
I once had a job where I resigned because a better offer came along which was more in line with what I wanted to do. I took a break from another job for health reasons. I had to leave one because we moved house. I have not been accepted for various other jobs because I am either under or over qualified. None of those criteria apply to parenting, this is a job for life! For that reason, you have to find ways of working it out.
So, we went out for a coffee yesterday morning, Hubby and I, and we came up with a communication plan. I love plans, I love making them together with him and I love the way my daugher and I do actually talk about stuff that matters. I think the plan we have is a wise plan that allows her some freedom, allows us to test her maturity and lets her feel we are willing to trust her to make good choices. It’s my fervent desire to maintain our relationship as best I can through the turbulent years ahead. She has two sisters who will be following in her wake and unfortunately for her she is my guinea pig.
Also, I’ve figured out the two of us don’t parent alone, there are other adults who love my kids and who have formed caring relationships with them. They share our burdens and actually their words and guidance sometimes leave a greater impression on the children than ours do (much to my chagrin).
My heart, I realise is not being beaten into shape only by my hand, we are a parent team, surrounded by a community, entrusting ourselves a Master craftsman who is far more willing and able to fashion it into something more beautiful than I ever could. It’s the trust I have in this that drives out my fear and enables me to live with the consequences of the dents in my own heart.
I know we can never resign from the work of being a parent and that’s OK because I accept I will never be a perfect parent and I certainly don’t have perfect children. It will always be the toughest job I’ve ever done but the highlights are worth it – those uncharacteristic hugs and little notes of thanks from my daughter, the sudden burst of conversation and insight from my son, their kindness towards others and all the things that make me proud of them to swell my heart to bursting point (so that my eyes leak). This is the only job I can think of that’s worth all the sacrifices.
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