Taking On The Emotional Baggage Of My Children

When I stopped blogging frequently a few years ago, it was for two reasons. The first was that it took a lot of time, and I couldn’t justify it any longer. The kids were getting older, having more activities, and more directly professional commitments needed to take priority in what time I had for writing.

The other reason was: the kids were getting older, and it was starting to be hard to come up with things that were appropriate to tell. At some point, Mom loses the right to go around sharing everything that happens in their lives and all the ways they make me laugh or drive me crazy. It’s no longer my story. It’s theirs, and they should have control over it.

As our family gets deeper and deeper into the adolescent years, I am finding that parenthood can be a lonely job. There are things I don’t know how to handle, but crowdsourcing the answer is NOT OK AT ALL. Adolescence is hard enough without your parents plastering your problems all over the universe.

The other thing I’m discovering is about myself. I take on the stress and anxiety of my children.

This wasn’t so true when the kids were younger. I mean, it happened–when a kid had a friendship go bad, I ached for them. But let’s be real: most Kid Drama is so minor, parents can sympathize and comfort without getting too worked up about it themselves. Michael sometimes wakes up and tells me his “bad dreams,” like “A dog barked at me!” And I’m like, child, clearly, you have a happy life.

But the anxieties and problems of adolescence are angling more and more sharply toward adult problems–real, lasting conundrums without easy answers or quick fixes. Issues with potentially lasting impacts. Some of them have the power to reflect back on me. Others are theirs alone, yet I find myself clinging to them as if they were my problems: analyzing, pulling at the threads, trying to find solutions. Which, of course, does no good because they don’t want my solutions, anyway.

I know this character trait of mine is good for no one. Not me, and not them, either. I know I have to figure out how to take a step or thirty back, emotionally speaking. Because my kids are going to make choices that I won’t like. They’ll suffer consequences that I wouldn’t want to suffer, consequences I’d do an awful lot to spare them. That’s part of life. The scars are the story.

But there’s a big step from knowing something is a problem and knowing how to fix it.