It is with some sadness on the one hand but with much gladness on the other that I view my graduation from parent to person. I loved my time as a “parent”. I loved being pregnant and having my babies and watching them grow to be fine adults. The fact that I will never have another baby of my own in my arms to nurture and teach and watch grow into an adult makes me somewhat sad but I have realized over the last couple of weeks that I somehow lost who I was during my time as a “parent”. Strange how that happened…that I identified with the role of parent and had a picture in my mind of what a parent was and thus became that and in the process lost something of myself.
Yes, indeed, I had a picture in my mind of what a parent should be like: I needed my children to see me as having only the right flaws. I mean, after all, I did have the flaw that I got angry at them but I could apologize to them afterwords so that made me okay in my own eyes. I was flawed in that I could dance and sing and act silly in front of them unlike many other parents that I have considered staid and boring. I could not, however, get out of hand at a party or talk about things that happened in my youth where I wasn’t perfect because I was afraid that might influence them to make some of the same mistakes that I have made. I had to keep my feelings under check because parents don’t behave irrationally and fall in love and become all starry eyed; no, parents have control over their feelings. This parent has had so much control over her feelings for so many years that she didn’t even know she had feelings anymore.
My children are grown now and we have started talking to each other as adults. I have been saddened to know that they each, in their own way, had doubts about pleasing me, about me being proud of them. I wish I had been more genuine with them, less of a “parent”. Maybe they would have known that I accept them as they are with all their successes, all their failures, all their perfections, all their flaws. Instead I maintained this distant perfect parent persona.
Having discovered that I have maintained a role for a very long time I have decided to step out of it, to let the person who is inside come out and play. I have warned my kids that this is happening and that they now have to accept me for who I really am with all my imperfections and failures. I want to be more real with them and let them know what is going on behind the facade. I think that now we can have a real relationship and that they can open up with me as well as me with them. I am hoping that we can get to know each other better, to tell each other the truth and to accept and love each other for ourselves and not who we have pretended so long to be while living with the fear that if we found out who we really were our worlds would fall apart.
What about you, have you fallen into this trap? Do you have a picture in your mind of “parent”. How much of yourself have you left behind because you have to maintain a “good image” for your children? Do you think that it’s important for your children to see you as perfect…without flaws or to only have the “correct” flaws? Maybe it’s time to take another look at yourself and see if this is what’s happening with you and decide whether you want a real relationship with your children or whether it’s more important for them to see you as perfect and feel like they can never be as perfect as you. What do you think?