As a child of the 70's growing up in hippie Eugene, Oregon (Land of the Grateful Dead, Oregon Country Fair, and more tie-dye and Birkenstocks than should be legal) - one of my FAVORITE records was Marlo Thomas & Friends' "Free to Be You and Me." And while most of the decade appropriate message was about re-defining gender roles, there was also a hefty dose of learning about the freedom to make choices and taking responsibility for them - all good lessons for kids (and adults) of any age!
This year has been one of my toughest as a Mama. I've watched my older son freak out as the end of high school drew near and he didn't have a college plan, barely squeak through to graduate, taken him to Colorado (four big states away!) for school & baseball, and seen him struggle with time management as a college freshman.
Not gonna lie - I've been working hard in "fix-it!" mode most of the year. In fact, my kid issues and guilt were so overwhelming this past Spring that I landed back in therapy - taking responsibility for every single thing that wasn't going right in my kids' life.
Bad grades? I didn't prepare him well enough for High School.
Partying? I'm not good at discipline.
Horrifyingly Rude Behaviour? Somehow I deserve that because I left my marriage. (Or some other such nonsense!)
. . . etc. etc. ad nauseum.
Thankfully I have a lovely therapist who looked at me and said, "There are a LOT of things in play here. Your kid came out with his own set of genetic material, and has had all kinds of influences in his life. You, His Dad, His Brother, teachers, coaches, friends, etc. If you want to take ALL THE RESPONSIBILITY for everything he's not doing quite right? Go Ahead! But the truth is, it's not all on you." She nailed that so perfectly that I haven't been back since. Woot!
I did have an issue with him recently that brought some of that guilt up again and I had to remind myself that he is an adult, and I am not responsible for the choices he makes - no matter how annoying and seemingly stupid they may be. (Amen.)
And you know what? I realized this week was that I had been doing the same exact thing with his brother - but in the opposite way!
Good grades? I prepared him for High School after figuring it out with his brother.
Kindhearted Soul? He must take after me.
Tall? Those are the "white" genes!
Talented Baseball Player? Ummm - this one is tricky, but I'm SURE I have something to do with it! :)
Oh yes, I have been taking ALL the credit for his "successes", as well as his brothers' "failures". Which is a total joke because even if I did prepare him for the bigger work load in high school (for example) - he has still had to go to class, do his homework, and study for tests. The kid is putting in a LOT of hard work - and the credit for that belongs to him, and not to me.
At the end of the day I think I found myself with almost-adult kids, and wasn't quite ready to say "I've laid the foundation, let's see what they build from here." I felt like it happened over night, and wasn't in any way prepared for that transition. What can I say? I'm a lifelong learner. It's not always pretty but I'm making my way - and so are my boys.
Are you taking responsibility for your kids' actions in ways that are maybe not that healthy? Even if you don't have children - perhaps you've seen this behavior in yourself with other family members or at work? Remember - you are responsible for YOU, and even with the best of intentions - it's good to let other people be responsible for their own actions too. That my friends, is Freedom!
There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live
In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
And you and me are free to be you and me
(Full lyrics to "Free to Be You and Me" here)
Love and Light,
p.s. To be clear - both of my boys are amazing and turning into really great adults who I love spending time with. They are kind and funny and respectful of women - pretty much everything I've ever hoped for.
Meet me here on Saturdays for some weekly vibes - honoring the week that has past, and clearing the way for what's new. Gather your journal and favorite pen, along with a hot cup of coffee/tea/chai - and settle in for 30 minutes dedicated to YOU.