Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Pearl of Wisdom
When I am stressed out or frustrated, wondering, like I often do, if I am doing the right thing for my children, I just look at them and a sense of calm washes over me. They are all turning out well.
Really well, in fact.
The other day, Claire and I were hanging out, relaxing, catching up, and talking about what she might want to do with her future. College, friendship, dating, driving, part-time job, fashion... My oldest daughter is now 17. She's figuring out the world on her own, little by little. She's smart and pretty, and a REALLY great kid all in all. One thing that has turned out to be a real benefit to being an Every Other Weekend parent, is that when I spend time with my kids, we seem to know how precious it is, and we are fully engaged. We talk about meaningful things, important life subjects. Claire even asks my opinion every once in a while, and when I give it to her, she actually seems to listen.
At least sometimes, I am not just white noise to my teen daughter.
Claire is wise beyond her years. And she is heading in the right direction.
I've worried about how divorce has tainted my children's lives. I fretted that by not waging a legal battle and allowing myself to become a non custodial mother, I've damaged them somehow, or done something wrong even though it seemed the best option for my kids at the time.
But I think I've done some things right, too. By putting your kids first, especially during times of trial and stress, you make choices that may be difficult, but that can end up making them into better people in the long run.
Our friend Fritz put it perfectly over the summer when I confided to him that I regularly worried that letting their father have physical custody of them without a fight was a big mistake. Claire was at the tail end of a five week nannying stint for Fritz's young family with three children in Europe. I valued this man's opinion and listened closely when he offered it. He's an intelligent and successful auto executive in Europe and had come to know my daughter well. She'd lived with the five of them at home and on travels to Hungary, Austria, and Germany. Fritz was extremely impressed with Claire's work ethic, her positive attitude, and the intelligent way she conducted herself. He reminded me of how "together" my Claire is, and what an unusually resilient person she's evolved into as a young woman.
"Sophia, think of a pearl," he started out. "It is beautiful and valuable and rare because of all the irritation that it endures. That irritation is exactly what creates it. I really think that environment is a big reason why Claire is so mature. She hasn't had it easy, but it's made her into a strong person."
Chances are, Claire would be the same Claire had I remained a stay-at-home mom. I'd never know. But maybe there was some truth to what Fritz had said.
It hasn't been easy, but my Claire is now as strong, well-rounded, and beautiful as a gleaming pearl.
Perhaps not in spite of how things in our life have gone, but because of it.