Like many other parents, I find it impossible not to refer to my children using the possessive form, "my" and "our". Clearly, it can't be any other way, as they are mine! But when I catch myself saying these words, they always leave a bad taste in my mouth, smacking of egotism, and I'm struck with the question, are they really "mine"? This leads me to think about, firstly, the reason I decided to have children and, secondly, what my mission is as a mother.
Beyond the reasons why most of us decide to have children, there is no getting away from the fact that having children prompts us to reflect on what our role will be in this new domain. In my case, I have always thought that the most generous gesture we can make towards our children is to prepare them for a life without us.
In an ideal world, and thinking only of myself, I would want them to stay by my side forever, and I would always be at theirs. But if I think about what is best for my children, I realise —the same as any other species of the animal kingdom— that my function is to prepare them to survive by themselves. My role is based on taking little but very big decisions from when they are young; decisions that I am sure will have a great impact on the way they approach life in the future.
I am totally convinced that we can keep our children on the straight and narrow, by observing them and only intervening when strictly necessary, while giving them enough space to take on responsibility and, of course, pay the consequences of not doing so. If you are a worrier like me, apart from not being easy, it constantly puts you to the test. However, in its favour, I will say that I think it was the right course of action to take, judging by the two teenagers I have now.
Allow me to tell you a story. I still remember the look of dread on my friends' faces when I told them that my 6 year-olds packed their own suitcases to go on holiday, or that they were the ones responsible for knowing what day of the week they had sport, or that I never bothered too much about their school planners. While some might think that by acting in this way I was perhaps shirking my responsibilities as a mother, I would argue quite the opposite in fact. Letting them forget to take their tracksuit and having to do sport in their school shoes, for example —far from traumatising them— was a lesson that has helped set them in good stead for everything life will throw their way.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, I will not always be at their side to remind them what they have to do. But while I am, I will tell them again and again that the life they are living is theirs, and that I do not own them, but I will help them as they grow, so that in the worst case scenario they will have themselves, with the lessons they have learned, and a rock solid foundation.
Finally, I would like to share two scenes with you from the film 'Ray Charles'. Please be warned that they are very moving. I think they are an incredible reflection of love. What do you think?