Soundtrack: “Rain Song” – Clem Leek
I have one boy in my family. He’s younger than me. He’s never gotten into trouble, he finished school well even when he had troubles studying, he works with his sister in a company that they started and is going very well, he lives at home and is not a slob, he accomplished a great deal for being so young and he’s just overall someone everyone admires and likes.
He hadn’t had much experience in the “relationship” ambit of life. Not a virgin but really nothing more than a fling here and there. He’s an “over thinker”. He’s a gentleman almost to a fault, extremely picky and he’s stubborn as hell and thinks he knows better; period. (Must be a family trait?)
Recently – as the heavens opened up and light from the gods shone down, he finally made up his mind about someone and started a relationship. Is she up to par with him? Truthfully no, but she’s not bad at all. I answered the few sex questions that came up at the beginning of their “honeymoon” phase and let him be; barely hearing a peep sometimes from that general direction. Knowing I was just to leave him to live his life and be happy watching him become the man he is growing up to be.
A month or so later, today, we had dinner and he told me of a bad fight they had. He told me everything from his point of view. What she said, her inability to understand him, how he feels he does it all, how she doesn’t appreciate him, how she’s always troubled, how she is, isn’t and all of the possible wrongs. I offered my own experience and tried to push him to see that maybe he just needed to be smarter about talking to her, that she, only like many women, just want to be passionately wanted every second of every minute, every hour of every day…forever. He doesn’t like it. He’s a stubborn a-hole and he was upset.
It made my heart ache. I don’t know if they’ll stay together. I don’t know that he’ll be happy. I know it’s not a big deal and I definitely know, through much experience, that break ups happen and that people move on and things can get better.
But oh god it hurt. I wanted to rip the problem away from him and throw it into a violent and erupting fire. I wanted him to feel relief immediately. I felt helpless. How do parents do this? How did my own mother watch as I broke down in tears day after day after even just my most recent break up? How does your heart not break too?
I had a “play date” with my beautiful god-daughter this morning. We went out to eat and play together outside and color and practice writing her name. She held my hand everywhere, she told me what she wants to have for her 5th birthday coming up, she told me about her friends at school and mum and dad and the new kitten they got. She was so beautiful and so innocently happy. Later tonight I wondered in despair; “What am I going to do when I have to sit there and watch her cry her heart out because of a stupid boy?” “What if she never does?” “Is there someone out there who has never cried because of someone else?” I was in a panic but knew that it was almost inevitable and that I wasn’t certainly going to stop her from being with anyone to not ever feel this way.
I know everyone must have their own experiences. They must live for themselves. Offering solutions, most of the time, doesn’t actually help. You must be there to listen and acknowledge their existence and their problems, not solve them. This is support. The person can be helped in various ways to become the responsible and productive adult that they can be. One that can handle their own life and share their triumphs with the people they choose to have around. They must be their own solution.
This is the equivalent of being in the driver seat with someone just learning to drive. You cannot jump across the seats and drive for them. You cannot scream and yell so much that they freeze up – terrified of making a mistake. You cannot stop them from driving in the first place so they never get hurt.
You can teach them what you know, lead by example, share your own experiences, help them grow to be strong, educated and responsible. You can come up with all the safety measures and rules under the sun, moon and stars – but in the end, they have the keys, they are in the driver seat and as much as you love them, as much as you’re terrified they will crash or get damaged; they must make their own way. They must drive where they want, and all you can do, after giving them all the tools to be the best possible driver, is be the best passenger you can be.
There might be a time where they too will be passengers. And there they will really understand and admire you for all the times you just hummed along to their soundtrack while they sped through highways, swerved by obstacles, waded through rain, traced back their steps, cursed at maps and traffic, ran out of gas, piled their car with friends and lovers, good and bad, and you never once stopped smiling, got angry or impatient, doubted them or asked to be let out, no matter how heartbreaking or scary it got.
Because really, you were proud they were driving. And you were happy to be there.
And when they’ve reached their destination, they will remember you were there, no matter what, along for the ride.
Because you were proud.
Because you supported them.
Because you loved them so much.