When my grown-up kids let me know what’s going on in their lives, I automatically, internally take responsibility for real and imagined issues. This is not resulting from their thoughts or words. It is entirely self-generated guilt and I own it.
In my head I hear this guilty self-talk when they ask a question. Mostly they’re just venting. If the concern involves a relationship issue, I’ll think I didn’t provide enough guidance. With a work situation, I start ruminating afterward about whether I should have encouraged a different career path initially. In life outside my head, they’re doing fine in their professions and relationships. They just verbally vent, I listen and then they resolve their own issues. But meanwhile, I climb aboard my own fast-moving mental guilt train exploring alternate tracks I might have suggested to arrive at another destination.
Interestingly I place myself first in line accepting fault without qualification or reservation. But I don’t take credit for the successes. I seem to have temporarily forgotten I’m not the solitary influence in their lives. Oh, and quick afterthought, they play a role in decision making too!
I know bumps in the road are part of life. I credit insights hard won in my own life to having learned from the obstacles. Still, I continue to harbor the mistaken impression that I could single handedly circumvent these for my offspring. Wishful thinking? Obviously. To counteract this, I now laughingly imagine myself as Super Mom, swooping in, cape flying behind me, fixing anything in the way of their happiness. This absurdity helps put things somewhat in perspective.
Well, I have work to do on this topic. Maybe the process of their maturation is echoed in my own. Maybe as they are learning to live independently, I’m learning to relinquish self-blame and imagined control. I’m recognizing the limits of my own contribution both real and imaginary. I’m learning to forgive myself for being imperfectly human. Feels potentially liberating. I’m working on it and just thinking this way makes my self-imposed load feel lighter.