So, as I mentioned in my last post on menrvaSOFIA, I’ve spent the past few weeks reading. Not all day, everyday, I have a job, but most of my free time has been spent with a book or magazine in my hands and my eyes on the page these past few weeks. With a break between courses, I’ve had time to catch up on reading that’s been waiting for my attention. And what a rare treat it has been, too.
I am a magazine fiend, admittedly and with no shame. This past pay day I had a few bucks left over to colour in some of my reading rainbow. I bought a couple of magazines that had mostly pictures and a few more that had mostly words. I learned something from each of them. I visited a couple of my favourite bookstores and picked up a few more books for the library.
The Atlantic has a cool fold out cover this month that is nice to open up the first time, but it’s annoying when I’m reading the magazine. The lead letters addressed last month’s cover story, the end of men, which I commented on in an earlier post. Feminist responses basically said, are you kidding??? While one father wrote in and gave his perspective of the stay-at-home dad and working mom. He sounded pretty happy to me although not without mentioning some grief from his wife.
I spent one Saturday afternoon on the sofa reading The Walrus while the fan blew a cool breeze through the room. The dogs came to say hi from time to time and nudged me with their noses to scratch behind their ears. Sundance slept on the floor next to the sofa. The cover story, under the rubric Society, addressed the question: why parents can’t let go.
I expected a researched piece on the trend of helicopter parents and children who return to the parental home when they should be out on their own, living a life of self-determination and exercising their own will. It was more a personal reflection, a memoir, of the author’s relationship with her son and her relationship with her parents. And despite hiding behind the innocuous word “parents” it was really about a mother’s reflections on letting go.
Ms. Jackson’s about a decade older than me, by my reckoning through the stories she tells, but her son is younger than my eldest daughter and the path we took through parenthood was different, as are our perspectives on parenting. I like to think that perhaps mine is more pragmatic, but that could just be ego. Probably is.
My reasons for leaving home were similar to Ms. Jackson’s: the need to live as i wanted, socializing with friends I wanted to, when and how I wanted to. It’s amazing how small a house gets when it’s inhabitants grow into adulthood. The fact that I shared a room with my little sister meant privacy was either bargained or bullied for.
Jackson touches on the point that parentage came late to her and that could be contributing to her (and others like her) inability to recognize her child as grown. I came to parentage early, not as early as some but there was an unplanned element in its occurrence. I wasn’t that far from completing childhood myself and my life experiences were limited.
We grew up in different worlds, my parents, myself and my children. My parents faced war and depression, factors that certainly contribute to growing up quick, while their children and grandchildren grew up in a safe and stable world here in Canada. We wanted to connect with our kids in ways our parents didn’t, we wanted to be cool parents, yummy mummies and milfs, and now we’re having a hard time letting go.
When my youngest left home, I was overwhelmed by my feeling of redundancy. That was a huge shock to me; I had no idea how much I had identified as a mother. I was looking forward to their growing up. But now it seems that all I see are young mothers everywhere I look; every woman has young kids. You know like when you’re pregnant and there’s pregnant women everywhere?
Our job as a parent, as a mother, is to provide our children with the skills they need to do without us. When we do a good job, it’s like planned obsolescence. Instead, we protect them from the unsavory aspects of life (everybody’s a winner mentality) and catch them before they even have a chance to fall down. I guess that’s how we know they still need us.
I get it. It hurts to see our kids suffer, and it becomes work for us to deal with their challenges as well, but parents, mothers, need to grow a tougher skin and let their kids go out and be who they are. Our parents did and we survived.