What My Kids Taught Me

What My Kids Taught Me

Both of my kids were born during my twenties—my son first when I was 23. Most people don’t believe I have grown kids, and I’m not saying that to brag. I live well, literally forget my age, and relate way more to Gen X’s and Y’s then the values of baby boomers. That may be a subject for another blog…or psycho analysis. At any rate, I fancy myself a forward-thinking renaissance woman who resists conformity. But aside from Olay products, there are many factors that keep me young—two of which I pushed from my body. Let me explain.

I am not a smother mother. I didn’t talk baby talk to my kids. I gave birth to two individual people who initially required lots of help resolving issues caused by uncontrollable bodily functions and cravings. We diligently played with, nurtured and taught our son and daughter well, because we wanted them to grow into super cool humans. We expected good manners, respect and freedom of expression. They couldn’t get away with lying or cons or excuses. We set the bar pretty high. We also gave them choices and told them they could do anything. We did the opposite of what our parents did, and it turned out well.

I’m here to tell you, if you don’t know already, it all turns out okay…really…seriously. Everybody’s fine.

Now, let me confess before going further. May as well get this on the table in my first Indie Chicks blog so I don’t need to mention again or explain myself further when I write about various subjects. My DNA is a strange contrast of high-strung and subdued. I have a huge capacity for fun and possess a wicked sense of humor. Oh yes, I can entertain a room of one or twenty. I can also withdraw and be painfully silent…those close to me have called it ‘dark.’  I am not manic—I am a writer with a wide range of thoughts and emotions. My intense introspection can scare people, and I think it has made me appear not as nice as I really am. I now conscientiously practice not frowning, which has saved me a ton in Botox money. Anyway, my kids knew these qualities in me before I noticed them in myself, which has just been for about ten minutes, since I started writing this blog.

In earlier days, this probably made them slightly fear me. I didn’t mean to do that, it just happened. For the record, my daughter and I have always been nauseatingly close, without a break, so nothing irreparable happened. But looking back, I’m pretty sure I stressed about some insignificant stuff—I’ve come very far from those days, however not before it shaped the past. My family understands me now, and I may get an occasional, ‘are you okay?’ to which I reply, ‘oh, yeah, just thinking…’ and they accept it as word. These lovely personality traits are viewed as much more creative and eccentric in nature than previously thought.

Yet somehow, probably because kids sometimes choose the flip side of their parents, I have two very cool kids who are laid back when it counts and ambitious when they need to be. They are grown, so they get to call me out when my neurosis monster tries to surface, which is less and less these days. To my delight, I find myself thinking how things that were once a big deal, things I tried to convince my kids were a big deal, are really not. They didn’t buy everything I peddled as a young mom…phew!  While my son spent a large chunk of his early adult years without direction, I took solace in other mothers who had wandering sons until they hit thirty. One had a surfer (uh, hello, over here) who suddenly went to med school and turned doctor in his late thirties. When my own surfer dude son turned thirty, I noticed a quantum shift in his persona too—he was becoming self-aware and introspective. I was thrilled. Almost a year later, he owns a small surf shop in the Los Angeles area, a ten-year dream fulfilled. We were not always close, and he didn’t always call me when he should have, but that has long changed. The best part is; he’s kind, charming as hell, funny, extremely lovable and mostly lives in the moment. If he masters money management, I will grant him sainthood. He nonetheless rocks.

My daughter is equally amazing. We have not had long term ups and downs, but we have had some hairy war of wills, mostly because I’ve wanted to stop her from running into a brick wall. She admits I’m annoyingly right a frightening amount of the time, but still claims her rights as a strong, independent thinker. She has always retained a bank full of trust from us, and is so smart and razor sharp it’s mind-blowing. Being one of the sweetest and most gorgeous creatures on earth, we have wanted to protect her from all evil. Despite the fact we assumed she needed us to do this, you know, wear the capes and guard the princess for the rest of her days, she had the brilliant audacity to stand firm and insist we let go, and she did this with grace and patience and spot-on arguments—I’m not sure we deserve her, and she still thinks we walk on water. It seems unbalanced but perfect.

Speaking of omnipotence, I never posed as a perfect parent. My kids knew I carried flaws from day one. Over time, they knew bits and pieces about the sources of these flaws, and eventually learned about my dreams and struggles. I never pulled punches, and did not harbor secrets (like my parents did). They have always been at the front lines of my cheering section, and are so happy for my successes it surprises me, behaving like mini-PR agents. They are not embarrassed by us, and think we are cool for working everyday on our passions. I will just assume without asking them that they respect us for living authentic lives. I’m speaking for them because, a) well, I’m just playing the birth card and wielding power, and b) I’m not sure they think about their ‘feelings’ about us nearly as much as I would like to believe so I am interjecting thoughts on their behalf.  Anyway, this paradigm shift  in the parenting world is the mother lode for certain. It’s the big payoff after you no longer need to micro-manage their lives, and can get on with yours and they love you for it. More than that, they inspire me to live and be happy in the moment, which is really all we have, and to grow young instead of old.

In the end, I am sure I got way more out of our relationships then they did—they were always going to be okay. They were born knowing this, and it was me who beheve fearfully as if they could fall through the cracks. They are super humans because they want to be. They are both outgoing despite their sometimes shy, cerebral dwelling mother. I don’t worry about what will become of them, and the thing is, I never needed to. I’m not sure how your older self can tell your younger self to not sweat the small stuff so much with your kids, because with age comes, well age. You can’t be forty when you’re twenty. But if I could go back and tap the young shoulder of me, I would whisper, “Chill out. You don’t need to fret this much about their well-being. They will be fine. You will be fine. Everything will be really, really fine.”

And it really is.

About Beth Elisa Harris

Beth Elisa Harris is the author of the VISION trilogy and contributor to the INDIE CHICKS ANTHOLOGIES. She is currently working on re-releasing VISION with Sapphire Publishing later this year. A native California girl with a passion for travel, Beth has a wicked sense of humor and loves all things pop culture. Her weaknesses include OPI nail polish, high quality coffee, teas and dark chocolate, dogs, babies, and giraffes. For more information, visit her web site at http://bethelisaharris.com.

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