Letting Children Grow Up

mommy track -- Corporate Flash Cards

I think the cards are making fun of me today. They like to do that at times. I’m posting rather late in the day because I rode along with my 15-year-old daughter on her bicycle trip to school for the second day of her summer technology class, to make sure that she knows how to get there — and wound up watching as she tried to navigate the turn into her school driveway and instead drifted across one lane, bumped over the median, and wound up going one direction across the pavement while her bike went another. Thank goodness for helmets — will they make body armor for bicyclists soon?! She was fine, luckily, and it was actually a pretty minor accident, but her bike’s front wheel was knocked out of alignment, so after her class we made our way over to the bike shop and got it fixed. Being the overprotective overreacting mother that I am, I discovered later that I have sympathy abrasions on my own hands after watching my daughter use her hands to push herself up off the pavement. How ridiculous is that?

golden handcuffs -- Corporate Flash Cards

So after sorting through all of this, and finally having some peace to sit down at my computer, I decided to pull from the Corporate Flash Cards. Friday afternoon is a good time for these rather cheeky cards! Here’s what I pulled, using my triangle spread (two cards related to each other by a third card on top):

1. the mommy track

2. golden handcuffs

3. (tying the first two together) exit strategyexit strategy -- Corporate Flash Cards

Yes, these cards are looking a little personal today! But here’s what I can glean from them that I think is universally applicable:  the mommy track is indeed a form of  handcuffs (according to the card, see also existential malaise!) — those who take it pretty much agree to give up their free time, evenings, weekends, breaks, mealtimes, sleep, everything, in order to live a life of servitude. But the handcuffs are golden — because raising children is deeply satisfying. At the same time, we do need an exit strategy, and fortunately there is one built in: children grow up. We can fight it, or we can encourage it, but either way, growing up is what children do. The next thing you know, they are looking around, saying “I’m fine — what, you were worried?”

And with teenagers, we know we’re not ready, and we think we know that THEY’RE not ready, to grow up, but as it turns out, we’ve been preparing them for this all along: teaching independence skills, teaching practical living skills, teaching critical thinking skills. Each day they get a little closer to being able to face life. And the closer they get to doing so, the more we parents start saying, “exit strategy? Oh, no no no, there will be no exit! No exit whatsoever! At least, not for a very long time!” We start to resist the very thing we’ve been preparing our children to do for years. Everything we’ve been working toward since childbirth suddenly manifests itself, and we’re not remotely ready. Because when we’re not handcuffed to our children, they might go out and hurt themselves. And when did I ever agree to be okay with that? I want to rip up the exit strategy.

As so often happens, tarot reminds us of what we already knew and long ago buried under the waters of De Nile.

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