“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” ~Dolly Parton
The past seven days have been fraught with parenting conundrums, struggles, and stresses. I’ve been on a ledge several times. I’ve cried. I’ve whined. I’ve thrown myself extravagant pity parties. One day I added a shot to my lemonade at 3:50 p.m., a full hour and ten minutes before I usually will allow vodka consumption. It has definitely not been a banner week for me as Mom. And, because I’ve been dealing with such a prodigious load of poop, every other part of my life has suffered as well. I’m under-exercised, the house is a pit, and I haven’t been sleeping well. Of course, now I also have a cold because that is how life works.
So today, what better thing for me to do than to go on a field trip with Luke’s class in the pouring rain? The sky was replete with low-hanging clouds. Rivers of run-off were cascading down the street, and the open space behind our house was dotted and dashed with puddles and streams. I tried to envision standing out in the rain with my sore throat and stuffy head. I wanted to ditch out, but knew I couldn’t. The only way out of this situation was through it, so after a series of not-so-amusing missteps (involving a raincoat left at home – not mine – and a wet pair of shoes that became new rain boots – which are now mine) we arrived at the field trip destination.
As it turns out, despite my apprehension, something good came out of my wet, cold, field trip morning. You see, when you spend a few hours with 14 kids who do not belong to you, suddenly your own children (and their issues and quirks and problems) seem comfortable and familiar. I guess the devil you know really is better. My boys may have some learning disabilities. They may be small and get picked on. They may never be able to write a decent high school essay paper. They may never be gifted athletes. But, when the long day is done, they are exactly the young people I have groomed them to be. They are deep thinkers. They are imaginative. They care about the earth and the animals and plants on it. They like to learn about the world, and they are enthusiastic travelers. They are respectful of authority. They are articulate and have voluminous vocabularies. They are a reflection of Steve and me, but with a new and original light only they could share with the world.
My parenting struggles originate not from who my boys are or are not but from the dragons I cannot slay for them, the things I cannot control. I’ve become too concerned with how what they’re going through includes me rather than disconnecting my ego and focusing on how best to help them find their way. I write here all the time about how we’re all on our own individual treks in this life, but I forget that applies to my boys as well. I may not like what they’re going through and I may want to relieve them of it, but what if what they’re going through is precisely the experience they need to grow on? What if my constant intervention on my own terms interrupts their process?
I have no answers to any of this. I’m merely writing out loud. I’m scrambling through uncharted territory, fumbling blind. All I’m certain of is that on this rainy day, the clouds in my life began to break a bit. I have a new way of looking at the issues my boys are facing, and it’s giving me strength and positivity with which to move forward. The rainbow is beginning to take shape and I think it’s going to be a good one.
5 stars Justine! With reference to your second last paragraph, you are asking the right questions, you are spot on in your thinking. It’s hard letting go, bit by bit, but your kids help you to do it (in fact, mine insisted on it) and it is a hard, but necessary part of life. I’ve been there. I am at peace with this aspect of my life now. You’ll get there. Keep asking yourself those questions, keep reflecting.