I am now old enough to know that life isn’t always going to go my way, and I’m OK with that. I’ve also lived long enough to make many big mistakes, and even some little ones. Thankfully, I’ve had time to reflect on my missteps, and do better in the future. With the benefit of hindsight, I’ve been able to answer at least some of the important questions that I’ve faced. It isn’t because I’m especially smart, but because I hit my head against so many walls that I finally figured out not to keep bashing it against the same spot. Thinking about my youth, I sometimes wonder what my parents thought of some of my most boneheaded moments. I know they tried to tell me things, to give me some of the wisdom they had accumulated, and I know I didn’t listen. How frustrated could they have been, trying to knock some sense into me?
As my children grow, I have constantly prayed that they would not have to make the same mistakes I did. I have worked hard to protect them, spent time driving them to therapy, to music lessons, to school events, all in the hopes of helping them become the best they can be. As a parent, I love watching them develop their talents, or overcome weaknesses. And yet it isn’t always fun or easy; sometimes it has been hard watching them struggle again and again to learn simple things. It is painful and frustrating.
I have preconceived notions of what my children should be capable of. Even with cerebral palsy, I assume my son should be able to do things that may be difficult due to his disability. You would think twenty-three years of living with CP would disabuse you of a lot of expectations, but this isn’t always so. Some of his challenges may not be due to disability per se, but just to who he is and where he is in life. Clearly, in some cases, my expectations of progress or ability are the issue. I deal with this when it comes to my kids and physical issues, but also to mistakes or blind-spots that can be chalked-up to youth, plain and simple.
I want my kids to be more mature than they are. I want them to have critical questions in life figured out, when I didn’t or still don’t have them solved. I watch them struggle and I try to give advice, most of which is not welcome, or is received with a smile that says, “Thanks but I’m not really listening”.
We love our children, and we want the best for them, and that means we want to impart wisdom and training. We hope that in the course of life they will be smarter than we were. I think this is why watching them struggle is so frustrating. I wish them an easier experience than I had, and I hope that I can will some of their difficulties out of existence.
I am becoming surer the older I get that I can’t prevent my children from enduring some of my same hard knocks. They will also face their own struggles. Life is a process, and difficulty is our greatest teacher. My prayer for my children to become smarter than I am will only be fulfilled if they learn more lessons than I have. And those lessons are learned in hard times. I want to remove burdens from my kids and make life easy for them, but that won’t be best for them in the long run. Knowing which trials to save my kids from and which they must go through is hard but necessary, and only time will tell whether their mother and I made the right choices.