Throw your mind back to those growing up years. Your first unaccompanied walk back home from the park; the first time you attended a birthday party without your parents; the first time you drove a bike and a car. Your first crush. Each step took you towards that much-coveted title of ‘adulthood’. That sense of independence was all simply so refreshing, so empowering, so liberating.
Flash forward to parenthood.
There’s always some dilemma plaguing life! When you are tiny, you want to grow up. After all the growing up, you want to look younger – and you crave your childhood again. Then you turn into parents – and if you’re lucky – you grab that chance to live your second childhood through the eyes and experiences of and with your children. So parenting turns out to be a ton of fun (of course with oodles of responsibility – but we can leave that aside for now).
And what happens when your own kids follow in your footsteps – to be more ‘mum-like’ or ‘dad-like’ – take on responsibility – and get more independent?
At first, you cheer them on. You are happy. Thrilled to bits. And then, you pat yourself on the back for the good job done.
Last week, we returned from our ski vacation. My immediate concern was to unpack, set up home again, vacuum and – needless to say get back to cooking regular healthy meals. No – cooking is something I like. What I dislike is the chore of deciding what to cook. That close to kills me! So – when my kids decided they would cook dinner for a few days – I welcomed the idea.
I asked then how I could help with the cutting, chopping, slicing, dicing, preparing the meat or veggie. They –in their sweetest way- led me out of the kitchen and told me to “go and write” as they would ask me if they were unsure of something. With a promise from them to not burn or cut or hurt themselves and mess up the kitchen, I stepped out. In 10 minutes, I was called in to marinate the chicken. I was surprised that my 9 and 11 year old were planning a real chicken and veggies meal!
What came up in the next hour was a total joy. The two lead my husband and me into the dining area. The table was set with candles, neatly placed crockery and cutlery, paper napkins. Remarkably and artistically done. My daughter announced –“the starters” and dished out a mixed salad of chopped strawberries, apples and cheese cubes! Enough for all 4 of us. Next up was “the main course” as introduced by my son. He brought in Greek salad with well-cooked chicken – and everything that goes with it. Scrumptious! And then – it was “dessert time”. A plate of cookies was brought out with fresh coffee.
Impressed. Proud. Joyful. What a way to celebrate life!
I thought this was it! I was glad for the one-time relief from a “what should I cook decision”. But the feat was repeated the next day, too. This time with starters comprising a mix of fruits on a skewer stick and a main course of pan cooked sausages and steamed veggies. Again – the settings for a candlelit dinner had been created. Okaaaay… so another day without that irritating thought of thinking what to cook… Cool!
Day three, dinner consisted of the veggie and meat stuffed puff-pastry rolls baked to a delicious crisp, followed by a dessert of vanilla yogurt on a mix of berries! Oh. What fun!
Suddenly, coming face to face with certain surprises leave you with a terribly mixed emotion – one of awe, joy and immense pain. That’s what happened when kids took over a mum’s role.
I felt lost. Did they not need me any more? I was happy to see them have fun and be independent – but I felt short-changed in a way. This was all happening too soon! Was I this independent at 9 and 11? By no means! No – life back then was much slower. Different. But perhaps, when I at age 10, cooked my first omelette for my grandfather – for which I have a burn mark that I can still show – my mother might have felt the same way. Perhaps, I was in this rush to grow up. Perhaps, in ways more than one, my mother had gone through the same ycle of emotions….
Perhaps, it was time to slow down. Take stock. Take charge of the fact that life happens. And lucky are the few of us who can live in the moment, enjoy it, and release it with no regrets – knowing there’s no turning back…