Raising children is hard. Raising tweens is hard. Raising teenagers is hard.
Not just hard, it's heartbreaking.
One of my favorite lines about parenting is that it's like watching your heart walk around outside of one's body.
A few days ago I was driving to a volleyball game listening to music from 20 years ago. As Tracy Chapman's "This Time" began to play I couldn't help but cry. There are 3 albums that I listened to nonstop during a very depressed and broken time when I was 19--Tracy Chapman's self-titled album & Crossroads, and the Indigo Girls's self-titled album. It never fails that as soon as a song from one of those cds plays I remember all the heartache and emotions of that time in my life. It transports me to that time in my life but it's not like a flashback and it's not emotionally crippling. This last time I cried during "This Time" I cried for the girl I was, wishing that I could hold her and tell her that everything would be okay. I wanted to assure her that life was going to be wonderful and good.
Today, I wish I could hold my middle girl and tell her the same. Of course I tried but I'm sure she didn't hear it. I know her nearly 40 year old self couldn't break through. I fear walking those years with my girls. I know how tender and fragile I was, I was close to ending it all and never making it to 40. I hope and pray my girls don't know, don't experience walking on the edge of life, of sanity in the way that I did.
Some days I remember that they have a life that I did not. They have two parents who love and care for them, there's no abuse. As my eldest pointed out yesterday, she and one other kid in her class are the only two kids who have homes in which their parents don't fight all the time and aren't already or in the process of divorce. We're not perfect but our life is good.
Then some days, I wonder about how much genes play a role in our lives. Are they doomed to struggles with depression and anxiety due to my lovely gene pool? I know better. I know it's a mix of both. I pray that they have it easier than I did but will be as compassionate, loving, and strong as I grew to be because of my struggles. I hope they can learn through my mistakes and make their own that aren't quite as devastating.