I wish I could spew out the specifics so that someone might offer exactly the advice I need to make everything work out perfectly, but the teenagers do not appreciate their mother sharing such details on her blog. Not to imply we’re dealing with anything unusual or even unexpected, just the typical bumps in the road between childhood and adulthood. Somehow defining such jarring moments as “typical” doesn’t help much. On either side. No one wants their behavior and concerns dismissed as, “Oh, everyone goes through that.” And when I’m lying awake at night or sinking into a funk during the day, worried and guilt-ridden, the knowledge that most parents of teenagers go through similar emotions only goes so far. (Note: Mix in the diabetes component and our current parenting struggles are kicked up a notch above “typical.”)
What I want to know is, what do other parents do? How do they cope? What do they allow, what do they forbid, how do they reinforce the rules they set? Are they also startled by how visibly their own flaws have manifested in their children? Do they fear that their kids will fail, grow bitter and disenchanted, wind up accomplishing little when once they had so much potential? How does you get through the day with that in the back of your mind? Other than whisking them off on family trips every weekend, how do we preempt their social lives and all the attendant opportunities for bad choices? How do we allow them the opportunity to make some mistakes while preventing the opportunity to make irreversible ones? How do we ensure they don’t miss out on positive opportunities when they refuse to take the long view?
It’s not as if I haven’t been here before. My oldest is four months from turning 21. She’s wonderful, but the ways in which I screwed up still haunt me. I have faith that she’ll find her way, but I so much wanted her path to be smoother than my own. Despite all my good intentions, I failed the enthusiastic, curious, talented child she once was – between the world’s blows and my own ineptitude, she retreated into rebellion. I remain torn as she navigates her own way into adulthood. I still see so much goodness in her and yet cannot convince her of better ways to do things. What is the point of my own mistakes if I can’t make up for them and no one else is going to learn from them?
I want so badly to repair the damage I’ve inadvertently caused. I want to be one of those perfect, together parents who always knows the right thing to do.
I’m weary, wanting to curl up under the covers and shut the world out until everyone is all grown up and doing fine. But I know, admittedly retrospectively, what I signed up for; avoidance is not an option. So off I go again, hoping this twisted road brings us all to the place I long for us to be.