(th)Inking about the Past

image courtesy of Canva

As it turns out, I don’t have children anymore.

I mean, I have offspring, but not children.  My youngest turned 18 a few weeks ago.

She’s excited about it.  She no longer needs us to accompany her to the doctor.  I can’t really stop her (though I can vehemently disapprove) if she decides to go get a tattoo or a non-traditional piercing.  It used to be that she was a small thing that I could (wo)manhandle into submission or give her a slaying look that would stop things in its tracks.  Not anymore.  She’s a real live grownup who theoretically can make good decisions about controlling her own life and body. 

I like to think of myself as a fairly open minded, live and let live kind of person, but I just don’t like facial piercings and tattoos.  It’s an aesthetic thing.  Not my cup of tea, but you do you.  I’m really no more judgmental about it than I am if you were wearing a shirt I wouldn’t choose for myself.  Looks good on you, but you can have it.  When it comes to my kids, however, I have strong feelings.  I knitted them together in my womb, and I think they’re perfect.  Why they’d want to alter that perfect flesh in a permanent way is beyond me. 

Of course, only your Mommy, and maybe your dog, think you are perfect.  We all struggle with insecurity and view ourselves in different ways.  Is there really a qualitative difference between the holes I poked in my ears for earrings than a hole poked in the side of a nostril for a nose ring?  I can’t argue one, though my feelings quibble with that conclusion.    

Anyway, rational or not, that’s how I feel.  Intellectually, I know they are adults with autonomy.  I’d like to think I raised them with good heads on their shoulders.  They are both accomplished academically, neither one has been arrested—I have no reason to complain.  They seem well on their way to becoming fully functional grown ups who will contribute to society with or without me.

I’ve always said that my goal as a parent is to raise my children to be independent enough so that if I were to die[1] they would be sad, but otherwise fully functional.  A noble goal, I still think, but now that I’ve reached it I feel weird about it.  I know my feelings are more about me than them.  I used to have total control – now I have verrrrry little.  They are my kids and  will always feel like they are a part of me.  They were both once internal organs[2] in my body, after all.  If you removed my kidney, it would still be my kidney, even though it lived on in a donor body.

I know, I know, I’m getting a little dramatic.  Forgive me—I come by it honestly.  Until her dying day, when I was 49 years old, my mother freaked out every time she called and I didn’t answer.  I had to account for my whereabouts.  Even though we lived 600 miles apart, she could generally tell you where I was at any given moment.  It was annoying, yeah, but it also felt nice that I knew for an absolute fact that someone, somewhere on this earth was worried about me.  Worrying is one of the primary facets of Jewish Mother love. 

So they may not be children anymore, but they will always be my children.  I will always worry about their decisions and how those decisions will affect the future.  I will call my daughter ‘babygirl’ until the day I die.  Time is relative and depends on your perspective: I see the fantastic young woman she is now when I look at her, but I also see all the forms of her that came before.  The future isn’t guaranteed, but the past is.

I just have to get it through my thick skull that, although guaranteed, the past is over.  Move on, old lady, there’s a new generation coming through. 

[1] God forbid.  I mean, I expect I will die one day, but not for decades, hopefully.  I plan on dying peacefully in my sleep somewhere around the age of 89.

[2] Or parasites

If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori at her website, www.loriduffwrites.com, on Twitter, or on Facebook.   Her newest book, a Foreword INDIES Gold Medal award winner, “If You Did What I Asked In The First Place” is currently available by clicking here.

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