Nice to be back home from the trek to explore T's future. The grass is longer, leaf buds further along, but there was still a coating frost over the ground this morning.
My three furry friends were full of zip, as usual, happy to be back on the early morning walk routine. Their enthusiasm had its usual uplifting influence on my tired self.
We had a successful trip - some places kindled flames, some less so. It exhausts me to think about T leaving again today for a 6 day trip to Florida with the school band and show choir, followed by one last college visit down south, on her own. I send a mother prayer of safe travels and good nights of rest, somehow, to fit into all that.
I took part in no tours or information sessions during any college visit, as planned, and T was fine with that routine. She is a loving daughter, and articulated well one night the difficulties of parental input. She recognizes, no matter how certain she is of our general approval and support of her choices for herself, that the power of J and me over her thought processes is profound. Any passing remark or judgment of a place, no matter how positive or benign, lodges into her subconscious and works it way into her thought process.
Maybe I'll say, "Wow! this is nicer than I thought! The midwest is really cool! This is totally new to me; it's so fun to have you introduce me to these new places." And she may think that she's missing something if she doesn't think it's cool enough, or maybe I'll be disappointed if she doesn't go to the midwest now, or temper her own enthusiasm if it matches mine, imagining that she should have her own independent thoughts.
(A. told me to embrace the smokestack, rather than avoid it with my photography. So here is the rising sun, embracing the smokestack)
It's a mind game, and T knows she is doing it, but can't always help herself. I know what she means. I am still heavily influenced by my own parents' opinions of me and my life, or even by my imagined sense of their opinions.
So one evening. in trying to describe this phenomenon, T blurted something out inadvertently, followed by embarrassed laughter. I was fishing for the right interpretation of how to temper my input: "What if I just say very general positive things, and keep it even everywhere..?" I asked. Her response: "Well, basically, I just want you to keep your mouth shut all the time."
It was the source of laughter for both of us for days, but a point well taken nonetheless. We parents have to realize the power of our words, our gestures, our thoughts, our opinions on the lives of our children. Even when they yell at us, say we're stupid, that we don't get it, that they DON'T CARE what we think - don't be fooled! Be careful with your lessons, and don't overplay them, because they are sinking in far more deeply than you realize.
The process of letting your children go has to be an active effort. Sometimes you basically just have to keep your mouth shut and leave them alone.