As Brian and I approach our 20th wedding anniversary, we are also moving through the 20th anniversaries of a lot of other things, many unpleasant. The summer and fall of 1993 were a very rough time for us, for me and my family, as I struggled to stand on my own and declare my voice, and my family struggled to accept it. Things were said on both sides, by both myself and my parents, that left wounds which can never completely heal.
I can admit that I can see a little of where they were coming from. I could even at the time. The path which I was determined to take was a path statistically not certain of success. From a vantage point of 20 years later, I can say, “See? I was right!” At the time, I could only whine, “But I’m different!”
It’s hard now to see other teens going through that same struggle, ready to stand up and be counted as adults while their peers are still finishing school, partying hard, or being good girls and boys and living up to family expectations. It’s hard to watch as other young adults declare their paths to the world, and then get beat down by their elders for taking that riskier path. It’s hard because I’ve been there on the side of youth, and pretty soon I’m going to be there on the side of age, and I wish I could step in and say, “Please, don’t say anything you’ll regret!” I don’t want to see mothers and fathers losing touch with their children and grandchildren because of fear and anger. I don’t want to see young adults have to struggle so hard to learn everything without help they could have had, because they’ve cut off their families.
Sometimes those families need to be cut off, to be sure. There are relationships that simply can’t be mended, and that breaks my heart.
If there was one wish I could have in this, it would be to make that transition to independence and adulthood easier on both young adults and their parents and families. I wish I could soothe the fears that parents have as they watch their children grow up and do things they disapprove of, things they are certain are doomed to failure. I wish I could soothe the anger and hurt of the children, prevent those wounds from going so deep they scar.
All I can do, though, is stand tall where I am and say, sometimes it works out.
Sometimes, your children can make what look like all the wrong choices, and still end up with a long, happy life. Sometimes, getting married young can last forever. Sometimes, having children young works out and turns into a wonderful, happy family. Sometimes, the right path for your children is the one you are terrified they will take.
Sometimes, you can grow to understand your parents, and to cherish their views as elders, even though you felt wounded and hurt by the things they said. Sometimes, you can respect and disrespect your parents at the same time, loving their virtues and learning from their wisdom while accepting their flaws and forgiving their mistakes.
Sometimes, despite all the odds and all the pain…it works out.