I’ve found the news from the Ukraine hard to handle, much less process. I’ve woken up with the guilt that I live a good life and my family is safe in a country free of war. Canadians take so much for granted. So, last weekend, when my little family was reunited for 24 hours, I stayed present for every moment. I took none of it for granted. I soaked up all the love like a gratitude sponge, mindful of families who would give anything for these moments.
April brings the birthdays of my two favourite people: my son and daughter, now both officially in their 20s. They say time flies, but you don’t believe that until it’s flown by and you’re not sure how you missed it swoosh past you. But it did. And it’s still moving fast. I am left wondering if I did enough as a mother.
These incredible beings entered the world with no instructions. Their tiny fingers held the trigger to my internal high alert system (they still do.) I spent years trying to feed them healthy foods balanced with Cheezies. They grew up learning how to negotiate my rules with the aptitude of stealth legal minds and escape trouble with quick video game reflexes. Smart kids.
I did everything I could to protect them from life’s hard lessons. But I couldn’t. Life doesn’t work that way. It’s horrible to watch them hurt. It makes me wonder why I agreed to love anything so much. But I did. I do. I always will.
I taught my children that kindness matters, even if it’s not reciprocated. Miraculously, my children remain kind, but unlike me, they set exceptional personal boundaries – unapologetically. I am in awe of their individual strength.
Facebook memories pop up from years past and it saddens me to see how often I remarked about the guilt of working too much. Busy, busy, busy. Chasing money. Volunteering to be Super Mom, then flipping out when the house was a mess. These were humorous self-deprecating posts, laced with guilt. I tried to balance a career with motherhood. I’ve never had good balance. I made my trip-ups look like dance steps and twirled my way through it. I did my best.
At some point, as a parent, you transition from the centre stage of your child’s life to a character in the background. And it’s weird. And it’s wonderful. And it’s hard. But then it’s beautiful. That’s the deal. You love with your whole heart, you hold on with both arms and eventually you let go with both hands. Your centre of gravity shifts, as does theirs.
Watching my two come into adulthood under the weight of a global pandemic, missing out on some rite-of-passage milestones, I’ve witnessed their resilience grow, their integrity ground them and their gratitude deepen. They see the world from their unique perspectives, with humour and humility. They both understand that right is sometimes wrong, but wrong is never right. And to be kind to themselves when the troubles overshadow the wins. It’s all temporary.
Adulting is hard, kids. Your 20s are all about learning who you are, but also who you are not. Keep the boundaries firm but keep your hearts open. Know I’m always in your corner. And that every time I sneeze, I curse you (but with love).
Take nothing for granted. Be grateful for it all. Happy birthday.