2005-06-02 - 1:32 p.m.
I read a great quote today from a PARENTING COURSE web site:
"Parenting is one of the few jobs in which our goal is to make ourselves obsolete.."
Its a comment that echoes Westley's parenting philosophy. He thinks the # 1 mistake parents make is thinking that being their child's best friend is the focus of the job. He says the job of parenting is to raise independent children who ultimately LEAVE parents and are SELF SUFFICIENT and happy and successful in the world! He has said in relation to Katerina and Soren "Think of it this way: You are such a GOOD mother to them that they HAVE THE CONFIDENCE to leave you at a young age!"
Its a nice way to look at it! Their Grandmother in Philly said to me "Aren't they crying every day missing you? " (this was back in Sept after they were first gone) I had said "No! Why should they? They are used to being away for a month each summer"
She thought it WEIRD that they WEREN'T emotioanlly upset. She said at that age her kids would have been and that she thought it NORMAL for kids to be upset if taken away from their mother suddenly.
I said "I don't think it odd that they aren't hysterical! I think it a sign of EMOTIONAL HEALTH that they are confident to be away from me, and a sign of SECURITY in my relationship with them. And I think the reality hasn't sunk in yet- they are just happy now to see their Dad"
I STILL think that to be true! I STILL think the fact they are FEARFUL of not being with their DAD/Grandmother is due to a UNHEALTHY dynamic of NOT having that SECURITY in their relationship with him. I still think they have a UNHEALTHY sense of ACCOUNTABILITY and GUILT regarding his MENTAL HEALTH that they think is DEPENDENT on them being in his lives! (True for his mother too!)
Both he and his mother would do ALL THE UNHEALTHY things that the books about divorce say NOT to do whenever they had a visit: the overly dramatic goodbys, the attesting of how SAD they were when they MISSED the kids so much, the telling of the kids how they are SO HAPPY AND HEALTHY when the kids are WITH them, and the relating of the converse when the kids were NOT with them.
In short a whole history of psycologically MANIPULATIVE and damaging behavior which I think results in this horrible unfair sense of RESPONSIBILITY AND GUILT on the kid's shoulders for the well being of their FATHER.
Soren though did show some signs of trama. He told me how much he hates school as he burst into tears and told me tearfully how mean his strict teacher is. It struck me that he likely sounded similar in his dramatic discussion of Westely his evil Step-Father. I seriously question that Soren is in fact REALLY emotionally OK. I in fact expect this whole thing REALLY has been tramatic for him. At least he and Katerina are going to counseling. It was sad to hear at the last hearing that the judge acknowledged the whole process had been tramatic for them.
But I also do have to look at the fact that Westely and I did a DAMN good job and hope that it was enough! I have to recognize that if it isn't enough, that it is out of my hands now. I have to not be upset by this too much as after all the kids are not only mine but their Father's as well- and as such as two parents we BOTH will influence their lives. I just hope that his choices and their choices don't have an overwealmingly negative affect on them long term. If there is a negative effect in a real sense at this point I have to let go of any responsibility and accountability for that as it is not me who is in control! I have given my warnings of why I think it would be bad for Soren to be uprooted. I have made my case for why I think it in the best interest for the kids to remain with me. And decisions were made by the kids as well as others that are contrary to what I wanted for them.
So now I predict that in time the honeymoon period will pass and reality will set in and Katerina will be fine, and Soren will have troubles, and my life will go on without my oldest kids being a daily part of it other than via a letter and/or a phone call (in which there is always someone else there so there is no REAL communication. Unlike when I WOULD ALLOW KATERINA AND SOREN TO PRIVATELY TAKE A CALL- AND IN FACT WE ENFORCED THE RULE OF SIBLINGS NOT BEING ALLOWED TO INTERFERE WHEN THE OTHER WAS ON THE PHONE IN OUR HOME.) So I WAS the mom that raised them the FIRST part of their lives. My Dad commented to me something about spending time with them and I responded , "Sure- when they're eighteen, Maybe then they will choose what they want and They'll choose to spend some real time with us."
He laughed, but I was really being serious. A monthy visit isn't time with them. I said "Until then I get to be the Disney MOm and have fun when we play together. I am no longer a parent! I have no ability to be a parent only seeing them once a month"
So in a real sense I am now the OBSOLETE PARENT. I have to look at this as a VICTORY in a sense! Maybe its because I REALLY HAVE GIVEN THE KIDS WHAT THEY NEED OF ME! Maybe its because THEY ARE READY TO LEAVE MY NEST AND FIND THEMSELVES IN THE WORLD. AND MAYBE THE MOST INTREGAL PART OF THEM GROWING INTO THEMSELVES IS TO FIND OUT WHO THEIR FATHER IS
SO at this point I like to think THEY ARE PREPARED FOR THE CHALLENGES OF THIS. I like to think THEY HAVE A STRONG FOUNDATION TO BUILD ON, and I like to think I AM NOW the OBSOLETE PARENT because of my GREAT SUCCESS as a parent!
I like to think Katerina at least is a well formed person who HAS a stong sense of who she is, a good self esteem, a sense of her talents, goals and the skills and work ethic that have been cultivated so she can achieve them. I believe this all to be true! I DO THINK she would achieve MORE when with me, but also believe she will be VERY successful and she is SELF ACTUALIZED already and will continue to be so WHEREVER she is and WHOMEVER she is with.
Soren is a totally different story. He has no idea who he is. If raised by his Grandmother he will likly be treated much the same as his Father was and will likely face many of the same issues. But once again, there isn't much more I can do for him now! I hope that the intregal difference of my parenting him for the first 10 years of his life, and of Westley parenting him for the last 5 years WILL HAVE BEEN ENOUGH to give him a skill set, a work ethic, and a positive outlook enough that he will grow into who he is with pride and responsibility. I hope that he will actualize his talents and come to be confident and self assured. I hope that he will be a happy person who enjoys each new day. I hope in short that Soren will find out who Soren is! And I have to let go of that role of being the one to help him along, let go of being the facilitator, mentor, teacher and the one to give the motivational push as needed. I have to let go of being his PARENT in a very real way and embrace that relationship that is more like a FRIEND. I have to have confidence that I WAS A STRONG ENOUGH PERSON who left a STONG IMPRESSION during his most formative years. I have to focus on the fact we SAW SOREN developing a conscience, a sense of what is right and wrong, and starting to develop a sense of self. I have to focus on the fact that he now is in the world and what he makes of the world is largely up to him, Despite what I WANT for him. I have to accept the fact it is more in HIS hands at this young age than ANYONE else's.
And I am aware that Soren has ALWAYS had an innate sense of spirituality. I see this as a gift that makes him different from his Father. I see this as a part of himself that he has tapped into, and that I know he can tap into in the future to give him a sense of peace and of purpose. And I think this may be enough. I think just maybe their Father who always wanted to be their Friend will learn how to balance those objectives for himself and learn that now his role is indeed shifted. I hope that he has indeed learned that he can not be their best friend. I hope he has indeed learned the secret of being good parent is indeed this process of letting go of your children so they can become self actualized.
And I have indeed done this. I am indeed letting go and letting live.
Because real love isn't about selfish seeking of your own desires. Real love isn't about smothering and forcing and willing someone to be who you want them to be. Real love, and real parenting is about helping another become more fully themself with your support and encouragement- EVEN when that requires a letting go. AND this is the key to most effective parenting: guiding and teaching, but ultimately LOVING children and BELIEVING in them ENOUGH to LET THEM GO.
I have just had to do that sooner than most parents.
AND in doing so: AT This point in their lives, I HAVE BECOME the OBSOLETE PARENT
Because it is what my role of their LOVING and ACCEPTING MOTHER has called me to be. TO do otherwise would be to be unwilling to fully accept them for who they, and for whom they are choosing to become.