The other day Kelsey called me at the end of the work day to say she was in the area and to see if I wanted to walk home with her. I’ve always jumped at the chance to walk with my kids as I feel like walking opens up a gateway of conversation. When they were small, I’d always pick them up from school and walk home with them so I could hear all about their day while it was still fresh in their mind, and this way they could share any worries and bothersome things before they forgot about them and I could help them work through hard decisions or issues with friends and teachers. I still find that when I go walking with my now adult children the same sort of easy flowing conversations happen, and they open up about a lot of things they might never mention at home or over family dinner.
So of course I jumped at the chance to walk home with Kelsey, and I was not disappointed. During our walk, Kelsey told me about an important lesson that we taught her through our parenting: that you do not have to share the exact same views or interests as another person in order to be friends. She said that we are like that, and we do have many different friends with different “styles” of being. Kelsey pointed out that even her dad and I are very different in some ways, yet we’ve been together 25 years. Good point!
It sure makes your heart grow a few sizes when your grown child gives you parenting accolades. As a parent you spend a lot of time internally punishing yourself for what you are doing wrong, and as your kids move into adulthood you are constantly walking on a bed of eggshells, shoulders scrunched, bated breath, wondering if you’ve done enough to help them become good adult humans and if they are going to hold you accountable for the rest of their lives for all of the things you know you did wrong, all of the parenting mistakes you know you made. You wonder if they’ll understand that some of the choices you made as a parent that were not perfect or that they disagreed with came from a genuine place of caring, often from having to pick the best of two not-so-good situations. Will they understand early enough in their adulthood to forgive you for your mistakes and shortcomings before they resent you for the things they can’t understand or see from the viewpoint of a parent who really was just trying their best?
Then comes a moment like this, and your heart swells. Relief washes over you and you relax a little, letting go of the breath you are holding. For now.