Monday, May 18, 2015

Guest Blogger: Martha Read-Gray on 'Mom Coping Tips'

I am very excited to be able to feature a post from a very wonderful, wise, and inspirational woman..who also happens to be my mother! So without further adieu, here it is:

Author of today's feature article:
Martha Read-Gray
I've been asked more than once to share any of my 'Mom Coping Tips', so this guest blog is in response to that request.

First of all, it's hard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  I'm reminded of the line burned on my brain from a prenatal book I read when my first baby was preparing to come into the world, "the only way out of it, is through it".  Since that's true, it's important that you enjoy the journey as much as possible.  So although many suggestions out there will suggest you load up on all sorts of 'distractions' to help you cope with your baby leaving home, it is important to realize that they are exactly that, distractions. They don't solve those quiet moments in the still of the night when you can't sleep for worrying.  What can you do then?

Ever since the cord was cut, your children have been developing outside of you, beyond you. This is natural. This is normal. Hopefully, you have let your children go away to camp, travel without you, or at least be away overnight. Then you did all the planning.

As your child prepares to go away on a gap year or away to post-secondary education, allow them to plan the details, organize themselves and their gear, and assist with getting them there or to the airport or station. There is nothing wrong with taking them to their post-secondary destination to see their dorm room, but don't stay too long so they can switch gears and settle in to their new locale and environment.

One of the biggest realizations I have had is that I can't control everything, even though as a nurturing parent that is my inclination. I've played a key role in laying the foundation of their emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturation, but there comes a point when they need to continue growth through their own self direction and experience away from home. I eventually relinquished power, and let them take control of their own lives because otherwise I would have gone 'crazy'. I balanced the texts, phone calls, fb messages, and skype-ing. What I've learned was to not be offended if they wanted more space at times, and I wouldn't let them be offended if I wanted some space either.

Sometimes it has seemed like nothing was going right, like my balance was out of whack. Sometimes, I just wanted to cry I missed them so much. I have learned to accept those feelings, and let them wash over me. Besides, I literally couldn't cry forever. So I found it's better to 'let it rip; snot and all'! I found my kids have bouts of homesickness. To offset those feelings though, I tried doing what my own Mum always did, which is I've planned for when we would be together again for a visit. Planning ahead changes both our outlooks to excited anticipation.  We had something to look forward to because we've missed each other.

I learned I didn't need to know everything. After all, we certainly didn't share everything with our kids as they were growing up. I realized that being close doesn't mean being enmeshed. I am learning to accept I will not be included, nor should I, in every minute detail of my children's maturing lives. We are both entitled to privacy. I let them share information. Sometimes they share precious little, but that's okay. Other times, it feels like way too much.  There are things my kids have told me, that I just didn't want to know. They are starting to do adult things. It's very important to know who my children's friends are and their contact information. My children know our friends, so I do think it is important to have met and know their friends. However, their friends are not my friends.

I've learned that I need to spare them guilt. Unintentionally, I've guilted my children into coming home and visiting or skype-ing on my schedule. I know I feel guilty if they want something, especially when I just can't give it. However, we're working on the concept that we're becoming adults. Understand that when people have lives, their time and space must be respected. Foisting guilt is unproductive, and ultimately a seed for resentment, so I'd avoid the whole 'guilt' scenario as much as possible.

I talk to my partner, he helps a lot. I don't think either of us could see a day through without the love, support, and wise counsel of the each other.  It is important to have the support of an adult someone.

I'm learning to trust my children to make good decisions.  Our fears can get the better of us, and they can preoccupy us with 'what ifs?'. If they do make an unfortunate decision, as we all do from time to time, they will learn from it, and they know we'll be there for them.  Things can unravel and they need us to assist them from time to time. With trust, this is now the exception, not the rule. Trust in themselves builds self confidence, which everyone needs to survive in this world. I've had to face the reality that I won't live forever and will not always be there to rescue them.  We're passing the control to them. I see how investing them with our trust has empowered them. Ultimately, we want to better be able to continue our life's journeys together, side by side, as adults, so they can continue their journey beyond our time.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a useful article for your kids leading up to their post secondary transition.