When my kids were younger I wanted to instill grand ideas; how to be a kind person, how to have empathy, how to be honest, how to have good manners. They were so little and I was so adamant.
Now they are teenagers.
My ideas have changed. I remind them to wear coats, I remind them to eat. I remind them that mistakes happen, sometimes, big mistakes happen. What path is to be taken after making those mistakes? What wise choices make themselves available? Will they avail?
Be happy, not necessarily behaved. (but don’t get arrested)
Be strong, not necessarily compliant. (but don’t get expelled)
Be true to yourself, not to society’s expectations. (but don’t break your curfew)
This part of parenting, this evolution and expansion of thought makes me wince and smile and stare out windows with glassy half-closed eyes in the midnight solitude.
Before I had kids, I knew exactly what kind of mother I wanted to be. I knew the rules, I knew the consequences. As the years go by, I know less and less. Who’s rules do I follow? What really are the consequences?
How can I know less now than I knew then?
Make mistakes, take chances. (but be safe)
Take a risk, don’t always take the safe way out. (but be wise)
Strike out a new path. (but don’t forget where you came from)
Of course, it’s just a matter of what I thought I knew. Now I really know, that I don’t know anything.