Through this transitional phase of my life and a change in a friendship, I have been thinking about what we owe our children. When we make a conscious decision (or even if we don’t) to bring these other human beings into this world (or adopt them), so starts a chain of responsibility on our parts–or so it should.
But where do the boundaries start and where do they end? When do ‘our’ lives take precedent over theirs and when (if ever) can we ‘be selfish’ and do things that maybe in the long run could hurt them emotionally?
These are questions I’ve had to ask myself many times over the years as I made the choice for a divorce and then tried multiple times for a relationship to replace my failed marriage. I justified each and every man who passed through my home to myself saying that it was my time to be happy. Surely I considered my children as best I could, or so I thought, but in the end I’m not sure I did a very good job.
They certainly were hurt by my decisions (and told me eventually as older people) and I ended up not finding anyone anyway. I’ve even looked at the reason for my divorce and wondered about that and considered if that was the right thing for us all in the end anyway.
Each of my children suffered in their own way, and of course, maybe they would have had their own demons regardless. They are all OK now thank goodness. And we can never know how the paths would have been different had I truly put them first instead of my needs.
Where do we draw the line–at what age, at what need, at what emotional tugging? I had very little guidance when it came to these questions. Therapists aren’t my thing sorry to say, and most friends don’t really want to tell you what you need to hear. So you bumble along while the kids get lost in the storm of your decisions.
Looking back, I would do it differently, but we can’t take stuff back. Resentment still hangs in the air with one of my daughters, but we are slowly mending. It could have been much worse with her–we almost lost her altogether. And I would have certainly blamed myself partly for that if we did. But she healed and we are healing.
So when I see others and their children, I want to grab them and say: please, make some sacrifices in the short-term because it’ll be worth it for the long-term! What’s a few years of not getting everything you want in exchange for the trust and love from your kid? Because really, that’s truly the most beautiful gift any person/parent really can have, regardless of what you may think in the moment you are reaching for something else.