How many of us have ever looked at our kids and felt empathy because we felt sure we knew just what they were going through because of our own past experiences? It might be true to a point, but I think the hardest part of parenting through difficult times is that we can't own our child's struggle. It is theirs, not ours. We can't fix, mend, mask, make better. Instead we can love and offer assistance when requested. Short of intervening because of medical concerns, all that is left to do is let go. Even when kids have the kinds of troubles where medical and mental professionals get involved, the lion's share of the work belongs to the child.
This is not to say that letting go, doing your part, trusting, is easy. How hard it is to watch your beating heart float out into the world seemingly ready to get battered, busted, blown apart by what it seems to offer. Helicopter parenting isn't my style, but I get glimpses of the why of it now and then. There are times when a thick Plexiglass container is exactly where I want to put my babies when they are in a tender spot. They can watch the world and not be affected by it....perfect.
Except not. I am reminded all the time that we are our experiences. Those twists and turns and peaks and valleys give us texture and nuance and life skills to deal with the next thing. We can't become strong and wise without learning who we are and many times, this learning involves a struggle.
I guess I am finding the watching a little more difficult than I'd hoped it might be. Beyond educating myself with a little child psychology and being available, I am at loose ends.
So I am making toast every morning for my kids. They are both more than capable. In fact, one said, "Jeez, mom. I am not a baby!"
Oh, but you are is what I was thinking. I just smiled and spread the jam on just the way each of them likes it, one so thick you can't see the bread, and the other, just a smear. You are my babies and I will make the toast because for now, it's all I got.