Having been so out of energy the last few weeks I haven't been able to even think about a lot of the things going on in our family. I go from day to day on auto-pilot, barely able to focus on the few tasks that I must do in order to keep up with my work life and leaving most of the parenting in Bart's capable hands. So the stress of watching in silence and the shadows of self-doubt haven't been there.
But this morning I woke up an hour earlier than planned feeling fairly rested and started to stew. A few of the situations in my kids' lives kept coming to my mind and I realized that the greatest amount of stress is in the form of NOT speaking my mind.
I went round and around in my head about a couple emails that I want to write, but when I got to the end I realized that they would not do any good whatsoever. They would simply make things worse or at best do NOTHING at all. And I have learned not to invest emotional energy or time into something that isn't going to make a difference.
And so I ended wondering if maybe the hardest thing about the transition to adulthood for my kids is just watching in silence as they make huge irreversible mistakes. Warning them does no good -- I've been trying to teach them and show them the way for years. Reasoning with them doesn't work either. Sometimes even their own bad experiences don't help them learn.
I'm not intending to be negative here, just trying to process my own thoughts. Which is better? To express myself and be ignored or to keep my mouth shut? The results are the same, but which is better for me?
Bart and I were talking last night about the shame involved when adult children make poor choices that are dishonoring to us -- not just moral choices, but the things they say about us. It's very hard to pour your life into someone who not only rejects you (hopefully temporarily) but walks away with negative things to say about you as a person.
Another very difficult thing for me to get used to is self-doubt. It's not something I'm accustomed to or comfortable with. I have spent my life a very secure person, confident that I am doing the right thing and was always a person who lived without regrets.
But now, watching our kids enter adulthood, I have tons of self-doubt. What if I would have handled things differently? Is it my fault -- my parenting style -- that pushed them away? What if we would have had the tools that are now available and had practiced them -- would things be better for them and for us now?
Don't worry -- I'm not despairing ... or regretting our choices. I still know that our kids are better off than they would have been without us. I know that I did my best. But the "what ifs" sometimes plague me (when I have enough energy to let them. ;-) Had I known then what I know now about brain trauma and attachment and FASD, would my kids lives be different? But I didn't and there is no way to know for sure. So I hum along with Lonestar....
I try not to think about what might have been
'Cause that was then and we have taken different roads
We can't go back again there's no use giving in
And there's no way to know what might have been
Would love to hear your thoughts as to what you have found is best: Does it work best not to invest emotional energy in repeating yourself to someone who refuses to get it -- or to not invest emotional energy in keeping your mouth shut.
But even though I have all this to grapple with, I still love my kids fiercely and am convinced that, even with everything that has happened, I would have been lest satisfied with an "ordinary life."