We were just talking in bed, Loverpants and I, as we do more often, now that we have children who can breathe on their own. And that was the point, I was explaining to him. This year has been a watershed one for me because I no longer feel like I need to breathe for my children. My lungs started working overtime at the birth of my children, and it has been unceasing, this breathing for them, until recently when I felt released.
Parenting in America will do that to a person predisposed to control issues. If you read the books and practice the fine art of narrating your life aloud, you will appear in command of your and your child’s life, which is just as vilified as it is rewarded in America. Hashtag helicopter parenting. You oftentimes feel so responsible for the entertainment and well-being of your child that you will feel tethered to him/her at all times, much like you are breathing for him/her.
You become a ventriloquist controlled by an unseen ventriloquist called SuperParent. But then one day you realize even ventriloquists take turns speaking for themselves and their puppets.
This year has been gracious to me in showing me my condition. My helicopter propellers were about to fall off. My lungs were on the verge of collapsing. My ventriloquism wasn’t even very good. I went to a conference in October and did a lot of talking to myself and listening to God and walking up and down the streets of Greenville, SC until I was good and ready to come home a new woman mom teacher human BEING, not a human DOING as my bosslady says.
I resolved: I had to stop stressing over Baby Girl’s spelling tests. This was second grade, after all, and I had already passed the class myself. I had to let Little Man sit in the hula-hoop of shame at gymnastics and not send him laser glares from the balcony. I had to bench myself, both as a coach and a player, over and over because this wasn’t my game. I was only a fan in the stands.
As I let go of my clipboard and picked up my pom-poms, strange things started happening. Baby Girl started getting 14/12 on her spelling tests. Little Man emancipated himself from the hula-hoop of shame. My team started winning and I had nothing and everything to do with it. I could feel my lungs relaxing a little–what was this new elevation? It was manageable and less stressful. I went to the gym more and gave myself permission to sit at my kitchen table and play with markers and glitter and be a hobbyist. The only unhealthy obsession I nurtured this past year was with watching every episode of “Friday Night Lights.” And pondering why Michelle Obama and I are not yet best friends.
I trusted that my kids could handle some consequences of their own making. I released myself from this tightly-wound rope and–what do you know? It might have made me more available for sessytime with Loverpants. I’m saying it’s a possibility. WINK.
“This has been a very creative year for you,” Loverpants said as I was starting a new chapter of a novel that was not written by Roald Dahl. There could not have been a higher compliment coming from my dashing counterpart. He recognized someone who was no longer immersed in creating problems and creating opportunities to provide air support. He saw someone creating things that brought delight and in so doing she was creating space for change. Change this past year has looked like a lot of glitter glue and paint on the kitchen table, and four members of the FamiLee breathing a little easier. God bless us, every one.