Today the name of this blog, Blink – and They’re Grown, really hit home. My nephew, Nate, is going to the prom and it truly feels like just yesterday he was learning to walk!
Nate is my sister’s oldest child. She called yesterday in tears as she was coming to grips with the fact that he is no longer her little boy. She told me, “It is so hard, in so many ways he is just as cute now as he was then but I know it’s all changing.” Later this month he will graduate from high school and by late summer will be college bound, here in Cincinnati. My sister jokingly reassured herself by reminding me that she expected me to take over once he’s here. My response was to remind her that I could never take her place – nor do I want to!
Nate has overcome some hurdles in his 18 years, and throughout his journey my sister has been there. She’s offered encouragement and reassurance when he took on new challenges. She’s confronted him when he made poor choices and doled out the consequences as needed. My sister has dedicated most of herself and her time to being a mother. For her, Nate’s successes, as well as his failures, are a reflection of her mothering.
And I think this is a common belief for many mothers – that they are responsible for the actions of their children. I get this to a point and yet disagree. I believe providing nurturance along the way and unconditional love is a mother’s task. I also believe it is truly a mother’s role to provide support and guidance; to teach children how to live in this world. A mother is responsible for teaching the rules, expecting certain behaviors and differentiating between right and wrong. Yet, I do not buy into the notion that every action of a child is a reflection of how the child was or was not mothered. For in the end it is the child’s journey – the choices of the child that will define his life.
My purpose for sharing this belief is not to let mothers off the hook, but rather to encourage mothers not to take on or own their child’s journey in this world. Nate is ready to leave the nest. He has been nurtured and prepped. He will always be my sister’s little boy – and I wish him good fortune as he takes on the new challenges. I admire my sister for all she has done as a mother, and I want her to know that it’s okay to let go, to not own what is Nate’s to do.
Although I am not sure she or any mother ever really has restful nights, that’s what I wish for her now.