"We love our kids," Dr. Tim Elmore began with the obvious, "But we way over-protect them almost to a harmful degree, and now we have a generation afraid to make decisions, or to take any sort of a risk."
True that, I thought, thinking about some grown sons of mine.
But I'd also argue our dang world is so dangerous nowadays, who can fault the over-protective parent?
We ARE scared for our children.
After thinking about it for a few days, I'm guessing he meant that these parents over-protect on an emotional basis as well, hovering too much, arguing with teachers when their darling has earned a bad grade, leading to a life seeped with entitlement issues.
I double dawg guarantee you that our local high school staff and administration would tell you I'm the easy goingest parent ever. I always take the side of authority. Heck, I've turned my own kids in for skipping, or for being dishonest about certain things, hoping against hope that my kids will learn a valuable lesson about the need for complete honesty in life.
The real world result is that they now don't trust me not to turn them in to the deputies, if I know about criminal activities. Well, they're right.
CW got called in to work on his day off yesterday, I'd dropped him off at 6, "I'll be back at ten," I promised, because I am reliable like that.
He'd been let off around 9:45 instead and he'd walked across the vast dark parking lot, crossing another street to go up to the fast food restaurant where he knew Sabrina was working, calling me to pick him up there.
My first thought?
OMG, you walked all by yourself this late at night?
Puh-leeze Cindy, he's nearly 6 feet tall, almost 17, them man has grown a beard, and in a very safe environment, this isn't a big city, and Tim Elmore's words about letting them make their choices went through my mind.
Big Joe used to walk from McDonalds to Krispy Kreme on the dadgum Atlanta Highway in Athens at 11 each night to catch a ride home with Jesse and Sergi, but I really do think, even 15 years ago, it was safer than now. I'd just been texting Big Joe about his former football coach that had taken him to the State Championships that year, now returning to our town. Joe had taken his leaving very hard back then, calling me at work, blubbering and inconsolable, this being way back before we had cell phones.
All parents worth their salt constantly struggle to find the balance between guiding them into adulthood, while not putting anyone in situations they shouldn't find themselves in for any reason. Sure we wanna protect, but we must tread lightly and carefully.
My Sabrina crawled in at midnight after closing out Zaxbys, going back out at 5:30 this morning to be on the breakfast shift. Honey, this makes you strong and capable. I used to double-shift at my own menial teenage jobs just because I could.
I even have a rule here regarding iffy situation. If any of my kids for any reason find themselves in an untenable situation, they need only to call me to come get them, and I promise not to badger them and ask 'Why?'
I just want them to be safe.
We adoptive parents find the parenting recipe even more confusing due to our children's vast trauma, or mental health and/or severe emotional issues. A comment from Marie, a lady I know and adore from AAN yesterday, set me to thinking as I know so much more of her difficulties and challenges, one in particular so staggering as to be a complete shock to one's system. She's even used snail mail to reach out to me before years ago, knowing I sooooooo understand.
I have my own lovely, brilliant Emily for that as well. Otherwise I'd sure as shooting would've lost my ever-loving, cotton-picking mind years ago. She's been my Go To Girl, the one whose brain I need to pick as I faced shocking situations.
There is no guidebook for all this, even The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) overlaps itself and struggles to come up with new letters and diagnoses.
I literally once dreamed that when my kids were grown, after I'd worked my raggedy butt to the ground, then I could write a book, like Tiger Wood's dad did about raising champions, my then clearly written goals included college educations for all my children.
Instead I became the poorly-dressed, big-mouth, hillbilly poster child for trauma mamas.
I revel in the fact that I receive so much feedback from y'all, that you pat me on the back for singing your song, "Finally someone understands!" is a common refrain. Yes, I approve the exclamation mark, there's no other way for us to express all this, is there?
Well, I understand only because I, too, danced your dance. A dance I might've wrongly told you was unnecessary many years ago when I stupidly brimmed with hope, excitement, and optimism. "Won't happen here," I might've dumbly projected - naive, clueless, and idiotic in my untested beliefs that love would win out.
How'd that turn out for me? You might ask
Humbling doesn't begin to encapsulate the feeling.
Robin Roberts, one of the strongest, most beautiful women out there today in society said on 20-20, "My grandma always said, 'Let your mess be your message.'"
Have I got a mess here to share, or what?
I wish I could hug all y'all.
The very beautiful, Lisa A, had invited me to go to the ETAM weekend in Orlando, even talking to Sarah ahead of time to pave the way. I've declined because I'm going to my niece's wedding in March instead and I can't be gone that long from home, my other niece's Notre Dame graduation won't be a possibility for me either, as anytime I'm not here, it's a true blue guarantee there'll be some acting out afterwards.
But I got to thinking that you ladies and your weekend would be much like the one I'd had ten or so years ago in Toledo, where I finally met Claudia, Amy and many others face-to-face, and got to know so many other moms just like me, like Marie.
I had enjoyed that weekend immensely, but even Claudia'll back me up, I missed the Bubbas hugely, it's just not easy for a trauma mama to get away, especially a single mom with this many chosen responsibilities. I truly love my babies and I miss them when I'm not with 'em.
So, turning my back on the fun of writing all this right now, I need to get two of my sons to Saturday School for minor behavior offenses. I say minor because I do know what major entails. BTDT.
Sarah has long worn a "Kick Me' sign on her back, a target I inadvertently placed there because she's the only birth child in a large adoptive family. She's been uncomplaining. Seriously so. Not like me who has bellyached for decades. I know some of y'all also have birth children and I can only hope, for your sake, that they've been half as supportive as my Sarah has been, I don't know what I would've done otherwise. I should be publicly proclaiming my gratitude to her way more often than I do.
I started this blog when my 9th grandchild, Ray was just a baby, now he's turning nine already, having a birthday party with his homeschooling friends at the Bowling Alley today. The mom of two of his buddies, Miss Beth pictured below, is at the hospital today with her own mom who's struggling. Please join me in praying for her and her mom Patty's heart. This is very serious.