H. and D.'s House, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Parents are made for leaving behind. This is what I've been thinking about since Thanksgiving. It's been rolling around the back of my mind, but it's a thought that I've had a hard time giving traction to.
During our visit to Pittsburgh, it really struck me again that I don't have to be my parents, that I can be different from them. I can be free without loving my parents any less. Connected to this realization, I thought about my own future children and how one day they will feel the same way towards me. I will never give them a perfect enough home that they should want to stay under me. They will feel as frustrated with me as I have felt at times toward my own parents. Frustration isn't even the right word, though. It's more the basic human need to differentiate oneself from those who have come before. I am not my parents, they are not me. I can't seem to find a way to express myself adequately here.
My families all love each other deeply and we all want to be with each other. But there is still the issue of how the generations relate to each other. We get in each other's ways and often can't seem to understand what is truly service and blessing for the other. Parent and the child waltz around one another trying to figure out how best to love.
It seems to me that at stake in so much of the parent-child dynamic is what must or should be done to maintain closeness. I want to feel closer to my parents who live far away, so I feel pressure to replicate their choices and selves in my life. We are all afraid of not feeling close to each other, because in fact we aren't "close" but live thousands of miles apart.
In the end, I think more and more that what we have to accept is that parents are made to be left. Marriage is the most important relationship in a person's life – it is the only relationship where there might be some expectation of lifelong companionship. Parenting is a short-lived endeavor. It is in incubator – short, intense, and hot – and then it must be turned off. For me, I need to turn off my desire for my parents to parent me. I want to stay in the incubator, but the time to turn off the lights has long passed. That time has passed and is gone and we are no longer sharers of the same space.
As I think about having children of my own, I do not need to contemplate how to keep them for the entirety of the rest of my life. I will give them life and then it will be their own. I will have Trey afterwards. Every family is nothing more than a succession of incubators, maintained and cared for by a pair of life-long friends. This should be a relief. I am not my parents; I am not my children. I am only myself.
About the Project
This is a very personal project. It tracks my growth and development as I journeyed toward motherhood over the recent years. It doesn't document every experience I had, and probably neglects my more joyful and peaceful moments in the frenzy of trying to communicate my fears, anxieties, and doubts. If you are a friend or loved one, please do not let anything you read here overshadow what you know of me personally. If you are a stranger, please remember that a living and flawed person stands behind these words. To all my guests here, please understand these are not political statements and try to extend me grace, even as I share my failures and foibles - I have repented of much of what I share. I don't share this journal as an exemplar, but rather out of the desire to share my hope that entrance to motherhood does not need to be a fearful thing - despite the very real fears I have fought against. Motherhood is simply a part of life and one through which I am discovering more of myself and my God.