I have little time for small talk or gossip so I’d say most of my conversations are meaningful as I rid myself of vacuous nonsense. I’m sure to some I can come of as abrupt or even rude but I value my time – and yours – so don’t waste it.
It’s been my experience that many people are afraid of true connection so they fill their lives with surface level relationships in order to protect themselves from being vulnerable. I’m a big believer in showing up and being seen, it wasn’t easy but now that I show up every day I don’t know how I lived before and maybe that’s the point, I wasn’t really living.
Lucky for me I’ve surrounded myself with a great group of women who are not afraid to dig deep and we share more than just delicious meals and good wine but meaningful conversation about issues that concern us from current events to politics to religion to parenting to hopes and dreams to fears and loss. There is always much laughter that accompanies our conversations. The topics are often quite serious but we don’t take ourselves or each other too seriously.
Last week I was fortunate to have conversation with a woman I enjoy speaking with and she brought up an issue that clearly affects me as I had zero problem putting in my two cents because it is so relevant to my life right now: raising young adults. Her kids are younger than mine and she had some really interesting questions and insights which lead to this:
The reality in my life is many of the kids I know are in one of two camps: micromanaged by their parents busy, through their kids, getting their “second chance” while not letting their kids make their own mistakes (and, indeed, sometimes repeating the mistakes of their parents); or, ignored with the expectation that because of their bloodline their children will naturally know what to do, or at the very least, what is expected of them. There are a select few who, like mine, are allowed to take chances and make mistakes and sometimes fail. All I know for sure, you can’t teach judgment.
In my life, I did as I was told even if I rebelled up front, I always gave in. Even now, in my mid-50s there is an expectation that I will do as I’m told even when I know it is not the right thing for me or does not align with my values. Those occasions when the problems of others are made my problems, as my boundaries are trampled, I bite my tongue and play – it’s a wonder I have any tongue left! I’ve managed to work through a lot in my life but the bitter resentment I feel having to jump at the demands of others is overwhelming, indeed it colours everything for a few days before and a few after. Lucky for me it only happens a couple of times each year now but when it does it eats away and kills another bit of my soul.
Because I conceded and allowed others live my life for me, I’m not interested in turning around and living my children’s lives for them as I know how bitter that would make them feel toward me. I am here to care for them and council them and provide for them but not to tell them what to do. I love them all unconditionally as complete individuals. I really mean no conditions. It is a wonderful feeling to practice mutual trust with your children – trust that we’ve all earned and worked hard to attain.
I do not provide a safety net, but I do provide a safe place to land when their plans and expectations fail.
I like a conversation that gives you plenty to consider. This was one of them. Would I have done anything differently? Would I have changed things? Absolutely mistakes were made – and through them lessons were learned and our collective judgment toolkit grew by one device. And so it goes.