Friday, February 19, 2016

on parenting and advice columns and the natural progression of time

on the way home late last night, i listened to a couple episodes of the dear sugar podcast. it's the one with cheryl strayed of wild fame. i'm not sure what it is about advice programs on the radio - there's also one on saturday mornings on danish radio and it's somehow fascinating, even when people's problems seem far from my own. there's something comforting in listening to other people's problems and the opinions that the agony aunts (and uncles) have about them. cheryl and steve almond (who was sugar before her) are surprisingly compassionate and deep. i'll admit sometimes when i hear the letters people write in, i wonder how they're ever going to take it seriously and not just tell the person to suck it up or piss off, but they always do, in a compassionate and empathetic way, without being sappy. it's a delicate balance and they strike it. 

it seems like parenting and especially motherhood is often a topic and it got me thinking. i never wanted children. i was traumatized by my high school boyfriend's older sister getting pregnant in high school and going to her wedding instead of her senior prom, missing out on a basketball scholarship and not going to college. i also viewed my own mother as singularly unselfish and doing everything to give my sister and i all of the great experiences she could and i felt i could never be like that. so, i went around for 30 some years, not wanting children. but then i met husband and it started to seem like a good idea. and although along came sabin a bit before i was entirely ready, i have not once regretted becoming a parent. of course, parenting has its moments of frustration and no sleep, but overall, i have generally been in awe of this whole, amazing person that i made and feel like some kind of privileged bystander who gets to watch her grow up into the confident, funny, opinionated and smart young woman that was somehow there within her all along. 

she's away this year at a boarding school, coming home one or two weekends a month. next school year, she'll be in the states, getting a high school experience. people often ask me if i'm not horribly sad that she's not at home. and perhaps it will make me sound like one of those dear sugar parents who hates being a parent when i say that i'm not. i love watching her blossom into who she will be - confident, finding her way, learning who she is and what her style is. and being away at boarding school was the natural next step in that process, just as going to the states next year is the next step after that. it's how she will find her way to being who and what she wants to be. she needs us less. it's completely normal and natural and i don't feel sad about it. i feel happy and proud that she's come so far and is ready and embracing these experiences and finding her way. 

but, i can see on some of the faces of people who ask me, that they think i'm a bit heartless for not missing her more. of course, i do miss her, but i get texts from her pretty much daily, so it's not like we're not in contact. but there are parts of her life, her inner life especially, that are hers now and not mine to share. and that's just fine! it's how it should be, it's time for that. i hope that we've given her a solid foundation from which to unfold her wings and i am secure in the knowledge that she knows that we're here, should she need to rest them. 

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amazing photos of a place both frozen and abandoned by russian photographer andrei shapran.


Jody Pearl said...

Parenting is about preparing them for the big wide world and it sounds like you've got it nailed Julie. x

will said...

terrific photos