Both my kids are in their forties now. Though my days of feeding, clothing, and putting a roof over their heads are long gone, I still see them as my little ones. Embracing their independence was a huge step for this single parent whose main priority was to give them a better start in life than she, herself, had received. I think that’s the least all parents ought to focus on in the first place, even if it’s just slightly better than theirs.
As a child, I had to listen to lectures that started with, “When I was your age, I didn’t get to ride a bus. I walked miles and miles to go to school every day,” or “Let me tell you something, there are so many kids who’d want to be in your shoes right now. So the least you can do is bring good grades.”
Every time I was put in my place for voicing an opinion, I learned to make a mental note not to ever treat my kids that way. Even as a preteen, I had vowed to be a better parent, because I already knew the fact that “being little” and “feeling little” were two different things.
The one other thing I was prepared to do was accepting my kids for who they were, instead of trying to make them into my “mini-me”s. I recognized and respected our differences without being critical. I tried to fit into their busy schedule and made myself available as often as I could. And I praised them for their level of wisdom, making sure they knew the fact that I, too, was looking up to them.
These days, both my kids come and go as they please. There’s no guilt, shame, nor obligation attached to our relationship. I’m invited over more frequently than I’d ever expected. They even include me to their family vacations.
I can’t go back and change my childhood experiences. Nor do I want to. But the way my own kids’ childhood years developed, it honestly feels as though mine, too, has received all the necessary mending in order to keep moving forward, without those haunting nostalgic memories.