Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Putting Away the Past

Whenever we go to the park, Hannah does the normal kid thing and looks for someone to play with. I, on the other hand, recently noticed that I do the abnormal, helicoptering of an overly anxious parent. What if they don't want to play? What if they don't like her? What if they just leave her standing there alone?

I hadn't realized that I had stored so many of my childhood memories in such brightly colored boxes, strewn about the dark corners of my brain. But now I find myself unpacking and reexamining those boxes. (Why, by the way, do the awful moments have to be the ones I remember best?) Some contain memories of being left out, dropped by friends who wanted to hang out with the cool kids. Some contain remnants of the crushing shyness that made me cringe, shrinking lower in my seat whenever a teacher directed a question in my general direction. Some are filled with the frustration I felt at my inability to just go up to people, strike up a conversation, something. Anything.

It's like an old scar on the back of your knee: you forget about it until you have another reason to look there. And I didn't think to look until I became aware of my anxiety about Hannah and decided to search around for the cause. And strange as it may seem, I'm glad that I looked. I'd much rather know about it now so I have time to stomp it out. Hannah is not me. I cannot live her life for her. I cannot be so anxious about her that I don't let her do anything that could cause her to be hurt. After all, I know first-hand the long-term effect of a mother who won't let you stray too far from her skirts.

So in the spirit of the New Year, I'm going to stop lugging around those shiny little boxes. After 30 odd years, they're getting heavy. And I need the space for all of the good stuff that comes from being Hannah and Charlotte's mother.

1 comment:

misskrob said...

You are wise, my dear. The hardest thing to do as a parent is to "let things happen" to your kids. But later in life, it is the kids who have been sheltered from experiencing the hard things that are having the hardest time dealing with real life. I'm seeing that with my kids.

My father-in-law once told me, "You aren't raising a 5 year old. You are raising an adult who happens to be 5 right now. Do what will serve them best as an adult." Easier said than done, but very wise words.