We want them to be happy, but we know happiness is elusive, and we remember being their age and struggling to find joy ourselves.
We want them to be safe, but we know a safe life is not likely to be an exciting life, a rewarding life.
We want them to find love, but we know that with love often comes pain.
We want them to find success, but who is to say our definition of the word matches theirs? And shouldn’t their definition take precedence?
We want them to be healthy — we would give all to ensure their good health. And they’re so young; they shouldn’t have to worry about disease. But life can be cruel and unjust, and none of us is given guarantees.
We want to be part of their lives. We want them to want us to be part of their lives. But we have spent their lifetimes trying to make them self-sufficient — personally, intellectually, financially. If we do our jobs right and well, they will go off to thrive as independent beings. As they should. As we want. But we also want to be part of their lives.
We take pride in their growth, their maturity, the wondrous adults they have become. But — and we would never, ever tell them this — we still long for those days when they were small enough to clamber into our laps with a book or special toy, content to sit in our arms for just a few moments.
Every now and then, despite their growth and maturity, we find them just as trying as we did when they were two.
We don’t want to rush them — really there’s no hurry — but at some point, at their discretion of course — of course — we would like them to have children. We hear tales of the joys of grandparenting, and of the incredible love our parents and siblings and peers have for their grandkids. We want to experience that, too. And yes, absolutely, one hundred per cent, there can be no denying, we also want to see them deal with the same sort of shit from their kids that they put us through for all those years.
We remember things we did when we were young — stupid, foolish, reckless things. Things that are not all that different from some of the crap they have done. And we think of our parents with sympathy and with guilt.
We will take calls from them at any hour, no matter the circumstances. We read their texts immediately, always. Because we never know. And the truth is, most of the time those calls and texts make us smile or laugh or kvell (a Yiddish word meaning, essentially, to swell with pride). A good conversation with one of them is often the highlight of our day.
We love to hear about their classes or their jobs, their friends and colleagues, their routines as well as their adventures. It’s not that we live vicariously through them — at least it shouldn’t be — but we want to hear that they are having fun, and we want to share in their joys, as we did when they were young.
We worry about them. How can we not? We have since they day they were born. When we wake in the middle of the night, almost invariably our thoughts go to them. We think of things we ought to have mentioned the last time we spoke, and we wonder if they have followed that piece of advice we offered a week ago, or two, or six. Some nights we lie awake for hours with these thoughts.
We savor their visits. We treasure those moments when our core family is together. We listen to them make each other laugh, and it is the sweetest music.
And we end where we began — with wishes for happiness and love, safety and good health, success and excitement. We want the world for them, even knowing how unrealistic these wishes might be. We’re parents, after all. No one expects us to be rational.
Have a great week.