I’ve never cried while out or driving; not even with my eldest daughter’s divorce two years ago, when she dropped the bombshell on us, four years into a marriage based on a love story. Not even when my daughter is being invited over to her son’s school, to meet a whole team of teachers, psychologist and councilor because her five-year-old son is misbehaving again. And I know why: he feels deeply hurt because his loving dad isn’t living with him and his mom, but in a different country. He keeps on talking about “crushing” or destroying stuff, from a toy to planes or even the world.
But today I couldn’t hold it and I kept crying… behind a pair of sunglasses, true, but this didn’t stop people who’d cross my way from eyeing me strangely. It’s my second daughter who made me cry. Because she herself has been crying for the past two days. Because her father and I demanded that she stops seeing the guy she’s been in love with for the past two years.
No,we aren’t that kind of mean parents – we aren’t any Capulets. But we did it because we are afraid for her, and we are trying to protect her – or, maybe, ourselves? Or, maybe, because of our first daughter’s failed marriage?
Fact is, we always had a vulnerable spot regarding our second daughter, now 26, more fragile, in our eyes, than her eldest. And we wanted to avoid her what was, in our eyes, a relationship destined to sure failure.
We had no preconceived, bad intentions before meeting the guy. I even bought myself a dress and tried on accessories that would go fine with it for the engagement. I even made efforts and lost weight. Not that the guy is a terrible one; he seems nice, polite and polished. But what we saw in him was below our standards for her, in terms of personal merits, self assurance, confidence; he gave us all (including the rest of the family) the impression of lacking grounding and centeredness. She said that he’s full of promises, but we didn’t judge him with the same indulgence. At 31, a young man should have already some base, other than the job he recently got after many changes. And now, maybe she hates us. And maybe she’s right.
“It’s her business whether she wants or not to be with him, if she likes him,” some people would argue, or would strongly advise: “Don’t interfere into the lives of your adult children!” I know, I always did that to others, but it’s always easier to shower advice on others.
We aren’t the kind of parents to interfere in their children’s major life decisions. We didn’t interfere with our first daughter’s marriage. We didn’t interfere with all our children’s choices of career; we didn’t either with their choice to go study, work and leave abroad. But this time we felt we had to; our accumulated life experience, our understanding of people’s personalities pushed us to assume this kind of responsibility.
And now I feel lost… I always put my personal interests aside to live vicariously, in accordance to the victories and failures, the comings and goings of my children. I always wanted to be there for them, because my own parents were not always there for me when I badly needed.
I wrote a book on family relationships which I deem important for everyone and relevant in as much as a culmination of a lifetime of focus and from my years of experience; one cannot but build one’s own my philosophy of life, and I deem mine comprehensive, rich and consistent. I believe that living a fruitful life, giving out the product of your accumulated wisdom is the utmost meaning of this brief existence. However, I didn’t do anything to bring this book, this other child of mine into the world, because every time when I would push for it, my children would need me. But this wouldn’t stop me from feeling frustrated and failing myself.
And now, for the first time in her life, my daughter is not that willing to talk to us as she used to. She wants to be left alone. I don’t think she trusts our judgment… she’d rather listen to the voice of her heart. And I wonder… is this voice ALWAYS right??
This is the moment when you realize that you should have left them alone, make their own choices. Even at the price of you living with hurts and sleepless nights caring, worrying for them… or driving and crying.
This is the moment when you realize that no, you needn’t see yourself smarter than your parents. By now you stop seeing how they’ve done a terrible job at shaping and upbringing you and begin to understand their reasons. By making those mistakes they may have given you the right model… or the wrong one?? Here I am, the result of my parents’ upbringing, they, in turn, the result of theirs… and so on. Who knows which way is right? To care, or not to care? To interfere, or not to interfere? To suffer, or not to suffer?… as if we had any choice.