Thursday, March 7, 2013

Long-term parenting


What is probably obvious to most is that I am a first time parent. Meaning that I did not do this job in a previous life. I haven't attended workshops or seminars. I have only trekked along on this mom-path with the help and advice of elders I love/respect and a laundry list of things not to do.

And I must say that although I have always had a vision for my children. Of what they could become. The peace and stability I wanted for their lives. I still thought of this mothering job as short term. As in, when they are 18 I am retired.

That eventually changed to when they graduate college I am retired. But then today I was thinking of several people I love, who are over the typical college age, but desperately need the support of a parent. And it hit me.

You are NEVER done. 

I mean, some children will need you more than others. Or differently than their siblings. But all children need their parents. Forever. Whether it is the couch to crash on/cry on/think on, we all need that connection and bond.

This got me thinking about birthing my eldest at the tender age of 19. I felt grown up. I acted grown up. But god was I a baby. It was all I could do to put on my big girl pants and raise and protect this child to the best of my ability.

My granny and I were talking about my husband's and my first place, which was an airy trailer in Junction City, KS. She said she was so worried that we were out in there Kansas all alone, with no money.

Whelp, we didn't have any money. Fortunately for us we didn't need at lot of snazzy things to entertain us. We had about $10 left over after bills and groceries. I nursed the baby. And we just made it work.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry alone in the bathroom sometimes wondering what I had gotten myself into. Or that my husband didn't stress all the time about getting promoted and making rank. We could have used that parental support, but it was a luxury we just didn't have.

That mindset of MAKE IT WORK comes in handy when you need to survive. But some children/adults just can't make that happen on their own. And the one's who do don't want their kids to have to do the same. They need that couch. And that's okay.

I know I'm too young to say this...but as I age...I think more and more about the opportunities and skills I want to bequeath to my boys. The information I need to pass along in order to give them the best shot at success.

An elder I affectionately title "My Fairy Run Mother" was so right about the 2011 Chicago marathon changing my perspective on life. These things/decisions/obstacles have to be viewed over the long haul. Step-by-step and day-by-day. Each day I'm adding stitches to my couch. Ensuring stability for the seat my babies may one day need. This truly is long-term.

Parents don't retire.