I am afraid for my children.
Everyday I watch them. The pieces of advice I’ve shared have only partially stuck. With full knowledge of the fact that they will be inheriting a world full of people who don’t give a shit about them, I have raised them in an environment that taught them just the opposite. My biggest fear is that the most crucial life lesson I omitted because struggle is not a transferable skill.
Struggle taught me to hustle for myself, that there were no handouts. My uniqueness, and my self-perceived charm, doesn’t put food on the table. There are more cute people in the world than there are jobs to put them in. My struggles reminded me that, to have a life adjacent to comfortable, would require me to dissolve relationships, relinquish freedoms, and wear the responsibility hat until the letters DAD are worn away. Struggle is not a bad thing, struggle made me who I am. That’s not that half bad if you ask me.
I mistakenly removed all the obstacles in their lives. Yet, I still feel perplexed when I can not figure out why they have not mastered even the smallest tasks. Remembering the stupid questions I used to ask, while the innocence of their questions languish in my ears. I muster the confidence to tend the seed of “limitlessness” in their minds. Just as they look to me, I looked to those that came before me for the same skills, found or not. I ask,
The proof of innocence
“Mom, why does it seem like you are always in a bad mood? Did you forget how to be happy”?
“I am happy”.
“You don’t look happy to me”.
“Keep livin baby, keep livin”.
I never really understood the expression, that is, until now. Now that I am faced with the impending departure of the seeds I have nurtured for the past 17 years, I realize I may not always seem happy to them. The smile worn down by countless hours of pretending to be polite, of agreeing externally while smothering the flames of discontent, is readily transparent for the 2 sets of eyes that know me so well. This is not a snapshot of nostalgia, it is not sadness, it is sheer and utter panic!
I know my “innocents” do not have all the coping skills they need to survive. Counting, 22,21,19,18 months left to teach them all they need to know before turning the light off upstairs for the last time. Minimal time to explain why it’s ok to have average sized boobs, and naturally shaped butts. That there is nothing wrong with the color of their skin, even when the pint-sized jerk at school tells them “I don’t date black girls”.
I am fully aware that they recently figured out that you can’t pump diesel into an unleaded only car. It’s the small things that they don’t know yet that drives home the panic.
Grace and the capacity to learn, I remind my self that there are some mitigating factors left to derail the doom and gloom. I remember that they are part of me and the determination and stubbornness that lives in me also lives in them. The resiliency that I never mastered, they learned early.
Anyone else had these thoughts? Share them with me in the comments below.