This isn’t about pagan parenting, in particular, but I’ve felt called to share this with you anyway. I think it’s so important for parents to share our both struggles and our victories.
It has been a tough few months for me. A lot of emotional things have been coming up and it’s been affecting me more than usual.
You see, my father died 4 years ago. He was only 55 and had been battling brain cancer for 6 years. I didn’t handle it. At all. I’m the big sister, so I took the role of comforter and organizer. I was too afraid to grieve. I told myself that I didn’t have time; that I didn’t need to deal with it.
And truly, I had more to mourn than just my father. My family seemed to split at the seams after his death. We scattered to the four winds and I felt as if our connection had weakened significantly. Family gatherings weren’t the same. We seemed removed and lost. But again, I just let it pass. It would get better when we were all done mourning, right?
Just earlier this month, my mother announced that she was selling my childhood home. It was just too big for her to live in by herself and she was planning on moving to another state with her new love in the next few years anyway. At first, I didn’t think it would bother me. But when the house sold after being listed for little more than a week, I started to feel a really deep sense of loss.
This is where I watched Saturday morning cartoons with my dad as a child. This is where my dad surprised me with awesome concert tickets when I was a teen. This is where I would crawl into my parents’ bed as a child on dark, scary nights. This is where we all cared for my dad while he was sick. This is where my dad died.
Suddenly, I was grieving, four years later. I cried every day. Every. Day. I didn’t hide it from my son, I think it’s important that he know that I’m human and that I have powerful emotions too. He needs to know that it’s OK to feel sad and that it’s OK to let others know that you are sad so they can comfort you. I also think it’s important for him to learn how to comfort people.
I handled it as I handle most things – of this nature. In a way that I hope he still will do as a teenager, we talked about it. I asked him questions and he asked me questions. I shared memories with him and he shared his 4 years of memories of his Papa with me. And we talked about the importance of family and the impermanence of “places.” We talked about “home” over “house.” And we talked about Grandma’s new adventure. It was a wonderful conversation.
And then, after he went to bed with a smile on his face, thinking about his beloved Papa, I began to feel guilty. I had lived in that home since I was 3 years old. My son won’t have that. He’s not even 10 and he has moved 6 times. And the house we’re in now is a rental until we find what we’re looking for, so he will move at least one more time. So I sat and I let myself feel bad for a moment. And then I remembered something that his Montessori kindergarten teacher said to me. “This is his normal and that’s OK, he doesn’t know any different. This is his childhood, not yours. It’s OK for his to be different from yours.”
Those words have gotten me through so many tough days after my divorce and our subsequent financial tightrope days. They have gotten me through being unable to afford to take him to Disney when our family-of-the-heart was going. And when, during my soul-sucking project manager days, never being able to attend events or let him join clubs (due to lack of time and money). It was nice to be reminded that while I might be thinking of the yearly camping trips my family would make, he isn’t thinking about them and therefore, he isn’t missing them. He’ll be just fine if we only go every once in a while.
That wisdom has been a foundation for me. It always seems to float up in my mind when I need it the most.
I suppose this particular post is more of a therapeutic sharing. And it is posted with the intention of sharing and letting you know that you’re not alone. Parenting is hard, especially when you’re in the midst of strong emotions. I also want to share those words of wisdom from my son’s teacher with you. I want to share them with everyone. I thank you for reading.