Reminding myself that, in the past, I always have
Thanks -- eldest son and I fly out to his college on Friday, and I do find myself endlessly cycling through the what-ifs (we get covid, our flight gets cancelled, his roommate is terrible). How come the what-ifs are never positive?? (his roommate is so nice! he makes tons of friends during orientation and loves the food! etc.) I know the pandemic has definitely messed with my ability to handle transitions like these. These kids have already endured SO much. My extroverted kid had to do a year and a quarter of high school online. It was MISERABLE. Somehow I still feel like I can protect him from any future negative experiences by pre-worrying about them. Rational brain is not leading the charge here, lol!
A Twitter thread of drop-off advice from author Mary Laura Philpott: https://twitter.com/MaryLauraPh/status/1561696604930842624?s=20&t=J3IXz2iqCXP9MkWJf4yHIQ
Mary Laura Philpott's most recent book BOMB SHELTER, an essay collection full of empathy and wisdom about this transition period. I loved this book and met Mary Laura when she visited Portland on her book tour: https://amzn.to/3PDBf9K
Full circle! Mary Laura and Christine discuss storytelling, uncertainty and optimism on the Edit Your Life podcast: http://www.edityourlifeshow.com/mary-laura-philpott/
One of my husband’s favorite bits of wisdom to give his students is “Fail faster.” With the caveat that I am absolutely TERRIBLE at living in the now, my coping method of the last few years has more or less been “We’ve survived worse than this, and we can again.”
The unexpected gift of having a college student go *SPLAT* was that it made all of us more resilient. And on the rare occasion when they go into their own anxiety spiral about school, these days, I’ve learned to just lean into that anxiety spiral instead of trying to convince them it’s needless worry. “Okay, let’s talk about that,” I’ll say. “Let’s assume you’re right, and you totally failed that exam. Then what?” I let them spell out the various horrors that could follow (failing a class, losing a scholarship, being asked to leave school; whatever) and I nod and egg them on. Once the trail is exhausted, I say, “Okay. Let’s say AAAAAALLL of that happens. So what?” Because really, the answer is always: we pivot, we find a different way, we recover. (And of course the anxiety was just that, and those things never happen, but sometimes following the disaster train to its logical conclusion both reassures that even total calamity wouldn’t be SO so bad, and reinforces that an immediate freak-out over one difficult experience is perhaps premature.)
My biggest reminder to myself these days is that “should”s lead to unhappiness. When my kid starts with “I should’ve…” I interrupt with “Says who?” We’re all putting so much pressure on ourselves to be a certain way, complete certain life milestones on someone else’s schedule, etc. Less “should” and more “what if?” (when I can, of course, because I am also notoriously bad at taking my own good advice), for the kids AND me.
I just love that you are doing this Asha. I have a kid who is a senior in college and is 20, and one who is a junior in high school and is 16. And what I know is that parenting is this never ending, magical journey we are on and we keep growing and adjusting alongside our children and I'm so grateful that they are here and I can do that. So, just sending a kudos to you and thanks for keeping on keeping on. - K
Ugh! I just had parenting moment last night and my kid was in full anxiety mode and said, “what if the world ends in five years? What if I waste my time.” And I felt like I couldn’t say it wasn’t in the realm of possibility. It’s so hard to be supportive and reassuring when you aren’t quite feeling that way yourself.
So when I read this, I enjoyed it, but on the wisdom of "you have evidence to suggest otherwise” thought "that's nice, Asha, but it doesn't relate well to anything in my life right now."
WELL GUESS WHO NEEDED IT TODAY? I spent time with someone -- who I love and trust -- when they were being, in small but repeated ways, judgemental of my parenting. And tonight, I tried to fall down a hole of "Maybe i AM a totally incompetent parent!!!! After all, they've been observing me parent for four years, and they know my kid well, and they were watching me in situ!!!"
But then I remembered the "you have evidence to suggest otherwise.” And I really do.
Thank you for rescuing me from the hole x