It’s Not My Fault

Patricia - Woodstock, Georgia
Entered on September 17, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood

It’s Not My Fault

My seven-year-old son attends an after-school program on weekdays while I attend college. Yesterday, when I picked him up, the school nurse called me aside with yet another incident report on my son. My first thought was, “Oh no, what has he done now?” Had he done something really bad this time? or was it just another typical day in this boy’s tumultuous life?

These questions loom in my mind far too often. Fortunately, the incident was only minor, and my initial feelings of dread dissipated. Raising my son has caused me to experience a lot of new feelings, but there is one thing I no longer feel, and that is responsible. I don’t mean to say that I don’t feel responsible for his care and well-being. I mean I don’t feel responsible for “Who He Is.”

You see, Ian is my third child. I’ve gained a lot of perspective over the years from raising these children. When I look back on the early years of my children’s lives, I’m aghast at how much time and energy I spent worrying and stressing over every little detail. I worried about their classes, their teachers, their friends. I often felt that I was failing somehow. I thought that I should be able to influence who they would be as adults.

Then Ian came along, and I quickly learned my biggest life lesson: I’m not responsible. Despite being born into the same family, with the same parents, in the same home as my two daughters, this child was somebody else altogether. My husband and I have aged, but I don’t believe we’ve changed so much that it would account for the marked differences in our son.

In the seven years that he has lived with me, despite using the same methods of parenting, he has marched to his own drum. He doesn’t like homework. He is easily upset. He’s stubborn and talks to everyone, even when he shouldn’t. Yet, he also has tremendous creativity. He loves cars, robots, guns, and anything gross or scary. He is frequently engaged in imaginary battles, and always sees himself as the hero. I didn’t bring any of these things into his life; his brain is just wired that way.

Sometimes it’s hard to be the mother of this particular little boy, but he has given me a remarkable gift. He has shown me, that when it comes to my children, I can help them. I can teach them. I can love them. I can try to be a model for them, but I am not responsible for “Who They Are,” or the choices they ultimately make for their own lives.

These days, when one of my grown daughters informs me of her latest crazy idea, I no longer waste any time wondering if things would have been different if I’d just done more of this or less of that. I just love her as she is, for good or bad. I know it’s not my fault. What a relief.