Every so often there comes a time when you just wish you could pick up the pen of life and rewrite portions of your story. I mean, you see something so blatantly wrong, or so obviously in need of revision that you just cannot help thinking what a wonderful “super power” that being able to edit bad decisions, sad moments, and monumental failures would be. I mean, Wonder Woman would be incredibly jealous of me...instead of the other way around.
The only problem is…that if you change one tiny decision…the story of your life could change in ways that you cannot possibly imagine. If you studied harder in school…you might have ended up in a graduate program that would have kept you away from the place where you met your spouse. You might have ended up living somewhere else doing something completely different with your life and missed out on the blessings you were intended to have. But we don’t see it that way, do we? We see the missed opportunities, brass rings that came around once and vanished, the glory days, and the roads that we took because the one less traveled looked like the one on the way to the camp of “Friday the 13th” fame.
I know that I am attracted to stories where people think that their life is in the toilet and then they are given a “second chance” to see the impact of their life on the life of others, and an opportunity to begin showing appreciation for it. I love “It’s a Wonderful Life” because it shows Jimmy Stewart living the life that we all somehow think we live. We do our best, we make mistakes, we dream, and we have consequences for our actions…even if those actions were overall in the best interest of all involved – including ourselves. And we are somehow frustrated with how it all comes together.
Several years ago, my daughter started dating. And although there were a couple of boyfriends that came and went, she eventually started dating a boy who was a senior her sophomore year of high school. He was a great kid – athletic, easygoing, and just easy to have around. In fact, so much so that he accompanied us to Europe in 2006 in lieu of his senior trip. Had he not gone, I might have lost my mind with keeping Brian straightened out, and Jill happy. He lifted strollers up and down the steps of the Metro, and carried my aunt’s “Black Bag of Death” a thirty-five pound innocent looking wonder that contained shoes…obviously lined with lead…and never once got on my nerves in eleven days of travel. He was with us a lot. He went home when required to sleep and sometimes eat, to mow the lawn, and to shop for items he would need for college in the Fall.
And then the summer ended. And after a birthday gift of a trip to see “Collective Soul” in Atlanta, he left the next morning for college. And his mother – who had been patiently waiting for him to quit hanging out at our house and start living his life as a college boy – decided that enough was enough instead of giving them time to break up on their own. I knew it was coming…the breakup...but apparently she thought that we had overstepped our boundaries and wanted those ties cut right then.
In retrospect…knowing what I know now…we probably had overstepped our boundaries by not insisting that he spend more time at home than he did with us. Oh, we mentioned it, and questioned him on whether he had things he needed to do. But we took him at his word. That was our biggest mistake.
What ensued after this point is dramatic and traumatic…but that’s not really important. I just wish that I could go back now and fix what we did wrong. We learned a lesson…that no matter how much a kid loves being with your family…until there’s a ring, white dress and a ceremony…they aren’t yours…and you need to act accordingly. We thought we were…and we didn’t worry because we were always right there with them. Watching TV, vacationing, cooking meals and having a great time. I miss that. I miss having a young man around who is crazy about my daughter, and we are equally crazy about him.
While I am also glad that they have both moved on because the timing was certainly far too early…I just wish I had the closure that other families get when the kids just get to end a relationship on their own. Frankly, I need the closure of knowing that if I run into this woman in the grocery store…that I won’t require medication immediately thereafter. I don’t have that peace, and so I live with the knowledge that there is someone out there that thinks less of our family and because we were naive. While most people would think I’m silly…I just happen to care. Wish I could rewrite that as well.
This week, I’ve found that we have somewhat of a mini-situation along the same vein. Not the same family – but with another one. And after the experience from before…I honestly do not want my sweet girl anywhere near the center of that volcano. It isn’t right that she was almost thrown in once three years ago, and we certainly don’t need a repeat of that situation again. And while it is nowhere near the same intensity level... once you have been taught a lesson, you tend to be more on guard than may be warranted and tend to shy away from anything that remotely resembles maternal craziness.
So, in my infinite wisdom, this week, I just wish I could pick up the pen of life, and either rewrite having this person in her life, or have it end differently than time and experience have led me to expect that it will. I just wish I had faith that this is possible…but I know in my heart of hearts that it isn’t.
People raise their children the way that makes sense to them, and I am in no position to judge anyone’s motives short of suspected child abuse or the like. This is certainly a far cry from that. Crippling? Perhaps. But that is not for me to judge. Frankly, I don't have all of the facts...any more than the mother of the young man three years ago chose to hear or understand.
I know that it sounds like I may be overreacting, and it is possible that I am. But I don’t think so. While some families have the knack for welcoming kids who aren’t theirs into the fold of the family…others refuse to open the gate. I cannot say that this is a good thing or a bad thing because there are things that I just do not know. There may be excellent reasons behind the decision to keep people out, and I am in no way judging that decision. Perhaps the son is a serial monogamist and the parents know that the focus must remain on the studies or he has to come home. Maybe there was a bad experience somewhere along the way that they are trying to get over. Or perhaps they just do not have the desire to get to know anyone until the proper time (ie after graduation).
I can relate somewhat as I am just now ready to let other people’s children into my life again after having my parenting ability, motives, and intelligence questioned so painfully three years ago. The people that my girl has dated over the past three years would definitely attest to this as the pendulum swung in the other direction so far that although I tried to like them…I found it impossible. And it was truly and honestly not their fault.
So, would I like to go back and do things differently? Would I like the ability to change outcomes? Well, in the short run…yes, I would. But as I’ve looked back at my motives and behavior…I just see someone who was doing the best she could with the information she had at the time. Would I like for my daughter to have wanted to date the particular young man from three years ago all of these years? Truthfully?…no.
I think that she needs a Type A go-getter with a romantic streak who adores her and is a good Christian man with the desire and ability to stick it out with her. Someone that she can support and loves without question or hesitation, and who will appreciate her honesty, resourcefulness and sweetness as well as her beauty. I also trust that this will occur in God’s time…and not in hers…or mine.
Unfortunately, knowing that better things are down the road does not help my daughter this week. A week in where she is feeling a little bit rejected and confused. And a week that made me pick up my Bible and flip to the book of Job to find someone who was feeling more miserable than I was. Now that I have done this, I am hoping that I can find what lesson it is that God keeps trying to teach our family through the rejection of other people who probably do not know that we are taking it this way.
Because between us…I honestly do not understand. And perhaps I am not meant to understand. But having that editing pen would certainly be super nice right now. I suppose, though, that I’m in touch with the one who is holding the pen…and he’s assured me that all will be well. And so I wait…and hope. Later!