This, like many blogs, is just a place to think aloud. To ponder life, ask ourselves questions. I personally like to refer back to older writings, letters, journal entries, and acknowledge how much I have grown and changed. Or how much my relationships have changed over time. I believe that is a key factor in a good relationship- it must evolve. If we aren’t changing, we aren’t learning, and we get stuck in a rut.
I’ve been thinking alot about the parent/child relationship. This is a huge deal to me as a parent of a child with some needs. I realize he will most likely be dependant on me for much of, if not all, of his life. This is something I have come to terms with- but also something I would like to minimize for HIM. All children reach an age that the apron strings should be cut, and the child should be on their own. Hopefully during the course of our parenting, we have given that child all of the necessary tools to survive life on their own. If that child fails or falters, whose fault is that? Is it the parent to blame?
My daughter is married, living in a different state. She is not yet 20 years old, but she has been living on her own, jointly supporting a household with her husband, for 7 months now. I still help here and there, but its extremely minimal. I am so proud that she is doing this- and happy in her life. We had her start working at the age of 13- the summer she turned 14- on a farm. We got some mixed reviews on this from people, like ‘let her be a kid’ or ‘let her have her summer’. She absolutely was able to be a kid, and she did get her summer, but she also worked her ass off and learned some valuable skills. The fields were hot, the days were long, the work was hard. She came home sweaty, filthy, bug bitten, sun burned, and exhausted- but she came home happy and extremely proud of herself. She learned exactly what it took to make a buck, and became aware of what she was spending. She didn’t automatically look to mom and dad every time she wanted something.
She went on to hold 2 jobs at a time while going to school full time as well. She worked, she saved, she learned. We still did alot for her, we paid for her cell phone, bought her a car and paid for the insurance monthly (and still do but not for much longer), we paid for her college, her wedding. But for the everyday stuff, the “i want to go out to eat” or “i need this new video game/purse/lip gloss” stuff- she earned it all herself.
So now, she is living independently and my methods have worked. Typically you’d just follow the same structure with the next kid, but with a special needs child, that’s not so black and white.
Logan has a very strong work ethic as well, and loves to help out. everywhere we go he says he wants to work there. it breaks my heart to tell him he can’t. I use the excuse that he isn’t old enough yet, but I feel bad lying to him. He sees kids his age working, and he wants the same. He just isn’t to that point where I can drop him off at a job yet. I can’t wait until he can have that, he is very much looking forward to it. So parenting him has been different, and I am learning as I go.
At some point this relationship starts to rotate. The child and parent start to switch roles. At what age does this happen? What age are you when you stop putting your hand out to your parents, and start taking over some of their care and helping them out? Taking THEM to lunch and treating? Driving THEM to appointments? Buying THEM the bigger Xmas gift? Helping THEM? 30’s? 40’s? older? I will likely be helping Logan when I am well into my golden years, and then what? What happens when I can no longer help him? Who will? I agonize over this. He has a wonderful sister and brother in law who have said they would take him without hesitation if something were to happen to us, but I am talking years and years down the line. Impossible to predict the future, and Logan just may surprise me, but as for right now, today, I think about this. I wonder. I worry.
I feel like my blogs all express worry! I truly am NOT a worry wart, I promise! I feel like I’m pretty laid back in fact, and I have often said that worry and anxiety are wasted emotions. You should not put energy into something that cannot be changed. It is what it is, whether I worry or not, but I prefer to feel somewhat prepared, and if I don’t think about it, I wont prepare.
You just don’t think of these things when you’re contemplating starting a family, or pregnant and shopping for little outfits. You think okay, pregnant, baby, kid, college, job, done. To find out your child can’t progress along that path is tough. It throws you on this detoured path with minimal road signs. You drive along, and wham! pothole, you’re on the side of the road with a flat tire. You’re stuck there for who knows how long. You try all the means you can think of, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, horseback riding therapy, then you’re back on the road creeping forward for a bit.
Its kind of like running in sand. You’re getting there, but its painfully slow, and you have to stop and rest along the way. If you keep struggling you end up frustrated and exhausted and nobody makes any gains. We are tightrope walkers without a net, feeling things out and grasping at any thread of help offered. Some threads will intertwine and become sturdy, dependable life lines, while other threads are quickly let go of. You can never tell who or what will offer the most helpful advice, so you’re better off to keep an open mind and listen to everything. It’s a whole new ballgame of parenting, and some days I want to just take my bat and swing- hitting that home run. but it’s a curveball.