I woke up this morning, in the early morning when it was still dark, and I was thinking about drugs. I was thinking about how to be a parent right these days and give your child a strong identity, strong enough to know what is right and what is wrong. Not to give into the temptation that is readily available these days. How do you give them confidence and the courage it takes to avoid the pitfalls of this society.
My husband is the most, honest, contented person I know. He is popular almost everywhere he goes, makes friends easily, and is honest enough to when he doesnt like a person, or feel accepted to distance himself. I like who he is. What did his parents do or not do that allowed him to know himself so well at an early age? Not to say he didnt have his wild nights, but he always made good moral decisions. He is the type of person that “always had a good head on his shoulders”. He has always been sensitive, smart, kind and hardworking.
I have not always been so even keeled. That is not to say that I was a bad kid, or did things that were super wild. I just allowed myself a longer leash, giving myself just enough lead to hang myself. I needed to test every options. I needed to see what was behind door number two just to be able to say I know. Even if it hurt people around me, even if it hurt me, I needed to open that Pandora’s box. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, not much worse than most kids these days, and a hell of a lot better than some, but still, it wasnt as good as what I wanted for myself. I wish I didnt have to experiment so much. I wish I didnt have to hurt the ones I love on my path to understanding myself and growing up. I wish I had been stronger, and knew intuitively the lessons I know now. Ah yes, it is all part of growing up, but there are some- a lot of the people I am friends with- that went through hard times, but didnt make quite the bad decisions that I did. That didnt hurt their loved ones quite as much as I did. Who never sacrificed their morals to open door number two.
I look back on my life- all 27 years as of today- and I think about the years I lost being to0 shy to be myself, not exactly compromising myself to fit, but just not being anybody. Watching others around me to see what they were doing, and flying under the radar to survive. I think about those times when I started to compromise myself or reinvent myself, holding myself to new standards and pushing to be an “all american girl”. I remember trying to be something to a boy who didnt want me, and who I didnt really want anyway. It was all attention, that was all I ever wanted from him. I think about falling in love, and wanting to be in that life, but too young to know how to take care of that love, or be with that love. I can think back to a time of making bad decisions to stay stagnant, be in bad relationships, hurt the ones I love and think I can do everything by myself. Being just adult too feel the consequences of a bad choice, and being kid enough not to know how to get out of it. I remember cleaning up my life and making good decisions just to throw it all away a few years later.
I guess I look at some of the decisions I have made like a recovering alcoholic, not that I ever was or even close to it. It is just that I have been clean for two years. For two years I have known who I am and where I am going. I have never made any huge mistakes that would get me in trouble with the law or drugs, but I did do enough damage to those around me third and fourth chances would be hard to come by. I also did enough damage to myself to know that I don’t know how I would dig myself out of that hole if I ever screwed up again. I know the value of what I have. I know I would be lost if I didnt have my husband, and our family. Being with him right now is like finally feeling like home. Not play acting a home, not wanting it to be one way and closing the blinds to things that won’t fit the fiction of that stereotype. There are good times and bad times, but it isnt something we say we can’t love through. We know we can and have. These past years have been joy. Not that it is the “honey Im home” idealistic state of Leave it To Beaver, or that we have faced those kind of difficult situations that can be solved in a half hour family sitcom. In two years we have had to face our definitions of love, moving, unemployment, no income, finding new friends, finishing a PhD, new job, starting a family. It has not all been easy, but we have gone through it together and we have been happy. We not only live together, but we painted our walls and become a home. We are building our family and sharing the love we have found together. It isnt perfect, we bicker, and snap, and lash out at each other, but there is love. Our goal is not to hurt each other, and usually there is an apology waiting to be said by one or both of us. We appreciate each other and really know one another and ourselves.
I look at this and think how do I parent a child to get to here, without going through all the hurt I went through? It is never easy to parent a child. Breastfeeding, changing diapers, erratic sleeping hours are not the hard part. Watching your child make bad decisions, helping them through those difficult questions of identity and seeing them struggle with the problems they face seems much harder to me. You can’t hold them, they won’t listen, and you can’t stop them, you have to let them go. Love them and let them go, trusting you did right by them. That seems hard. That seems really hard.