Last night I had a conversation with my 21 year old son, that left me with a mix of emotions.
We were talking about how he and his sister don’t have vehicles to drive, and how it means that I am still driving a 21 year old and 19 year old around sometimes. I can’t afford to help them get vehicles, so I feel like I need to help them practically as much as I can. But, I also want to encourage them to take responsibility for themselves and I was remembering how I saved up for my first car. I made the classic parenting mistake of saying, “When I was your age…. “. Yeah, my bad…. I know better than that.
My son said, “Yeah Mom, but you had your parents.” Shocked, I said, “What do you mean? Do you not feel I have been there for you?”
He said, “Yes, you have been here for us emotionally and and been as supportive as you could. But, it has been hard for all of us. We haven’t had stability like you did. We didn’t have financial support and help like you did.”
Instantly, I felt my stomach clench with regret and sadness and guilt.
“Oh Son, I know. I feel so bad about that. I wish it could have been different for you!” I said.
My son, in his infinite wisdom of 21 years on this earth said to me, “Mom, you have nothing to feel bad about. You didn’t do anything wrong. You did the best you could in the circumstances and I appreciate everything you do for us. It’s okay. I made my own choices too. I didn’t choose to handle my emotions very well, and I could have done better. That’s my responsibility.”
He’s right. I didn’t want my kids to be “children of divorce”. I didn’t want them to feel the pain of the divided family and have to face some harsh truths that they had to face. But, I can’t change the facts or the past.
It is also true that they have learned a lot and grown in some ways that is very valuable through this. I am not sure I would have had some of the wisdom my son demonstrated last night “when I was his age”.
I can’t help them financially the way I want to. But, I do my best to support them, guide them, and be a sounding board for them as they are navigating the waters of early adulthood.
I choose to believe they can still thrive through this. I have to. I hope I can help them do so.
I have done my best to love them, to provide the amount of stability possible through everything, and to create an emotionally safe home for them. I know that is valuable, and I am hopeful for the future.