Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mastering (or not mastering) the Art of Worry

If you are a parent, you will relate, and if not, I hope you find something to grab your attention. When I was growing up, especially in high school, I thought that I was invincible. Nothing could ever happen to me. I made bad choices. I drank. I snuck out of the house. I told my parents I hated them. I had a baby my senior year of high school (you do the math). . And while I'm not entirely proud of the choices I made back then, I don't regret a single one. The lessons I learned in high school have stuck with me, preparing me, I think, for parenting my own high schoolers some day. 

Once you become  a parent, all of that invincibility crap goes out the window. Now you are in charge of someone else's life, and suddenly these fears start creeping up on you turning you into a totally irrational being. I don't know how my parents did it. I feel very helpless already, and my kids are nowhere near high school. I'm a worrier. I'm the parent that made my daughter practice walking the three blocks to school for two weeks before school started so she would know all the different routes to take and where to go if she needed anything. I still check on my kids before I go to sleep. I put my hands on their backs to make sure I can feel them breathe. I pull all my kids into my bed when they are sick so they won't suffocate in their own puke. (TMI. I know) I have a hard time letting them ride their bike further than our driveway.

I know it's wrong, and I'm working on it. The fact of the matter is, it won't change anything, and somewhere in my heart I know that God's got this, and I need to let him be in the driver's seat, but man that's hard. I have a hard time knowing where my line needs to be drawn. When do I swoop in and protect them, and when do I let go of the bike and let them ride on their own? What advice do I give them? How do I point them down the right path when I myself am still learning? My experiences are still shaping my faith and my beliefs. What I believed about God as a child isn't necessarily the same as what I believe now. He's better than I knew him to be, but somewhat different from the community I live in. Not to mention, the world we live in now seems to be more cruel and more dangerous. Kids are smoking and experimenting with drugs, alcohol and sex at a much younger age than they were when I was a kid. Social media and the internet has made it possible for people to stay connected and for people to meet others and build new friendships in ways that you couldn't do 20 years ago. The flip side of that is scary, though. It is much easier to bully and harass others or BE bullied and get harassed by others. It's scary. How do I protect my kids from this? How do I help them build confidence in themselves to rise above the influence and listen to their their gut? I have so many questions I need answered, and I know that I'm not supposed to have all the answers right now. I'm just supposed to trust. Have faith.

What I do know is that I love my littles fiercely and with all of my soul. I am imperfect and I will make mistakes, but that's the part of life that I want them to grasp. Mistakes shape you. They mold you, and they make you stronger. If nothing else, I want them to know this much. Perfection is for the birds.

 I write this to maybe remind myself that there is a community of parents who are just like me-who struggle with knowing when to let go and how to prepare them for the world out there. I find comfort in knowing that no parent is exactly the same as another. No parenting technique mirrors another. Everyone's beliefs are slightly if not outstandingly different and yet, there are good people everywhere. There are so many amazing parents who just want their kids to grow up happy and healthy. Because of this, there are littles who are growing up to be bigs and are changing the world for the better. They are leaving their mark on this world in a positive way, and THAT my friends is what I want my kids to learn. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Make your mark. Change the world for the good. Do something good with your one wild and precious life.

"This is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen here. Don't be afraid."--Frederick Beuchner

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