Does not share.

February 12, 2011

Most people would say that I am pretty generous. But lately, I am tired of sharing, specifically, sharing children.  As teenagers, I share them with their friends, school and their father. They are happy and well-adjusted, but I want them for myself.

My parenting dreams started when I was twelve. A large baby-sitting service was created and I juggled over thirty families on my list. Then came my teaching degree then my decade working and running  childcare centers.  These were my “practice children”. At 29 I was more than ready to welcome the first baby I could call my own.

My mom raced over to help me with this new child. I enjoyed her visit, but I rarely let her touch the baby. She was mine. All M I N E. I let my mom hold her a bit and even shared her with her dad sometimes. See how generous I am?  Everyone knew she was MINE.

Someone once told me something really crazy like, “She’s only yours to look after for a little while..” This was ridiculous. She was my life. If something ever happened to her. I would die myself. Really, it was that simple.

Then life got a bit more complicated. I had other children. If something happened to one I would have to stay around for the others.

But they were still MINE. I was the classic helicopter parent on steroids.

Then I read a book. Just an ordinary book. You know, a book club book. It wasn’t my choice, but hey, I’m a team player, so I read.

The Red Tent” is a story told from the point of view of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter and sister to Joseph (of the rainbow robe fame). At first I was appalled, Jacob had four wives. (Really, talk about sharing..) Pretty soon I started getting used to the idea. Imagining someone else cooking and cleaning, knitting and tending the garden.

I appreciated that this child had many mothers. I even considered letting someone else hang out with my daughters once in a while. I started seeing it as a positive experience. Maybe it would be valuable for my daughters to have exposure to other women, ones that can cook and dance and sew.

It was with this in mind that Elise to moved in with my sister to experience American High School for a term. There she lived with the people who set up her parents. She learned that she had a wide web of extended family where she was always welcome and accepted.

Next, she went to Tahiti to live with an unknown family for a month.  Elise sat on the beach at sunrise while her Tahitian mom taught ti chi on the beach. This is not an experience I can give her.

My daughter has exposure to different moms and mothering.  She has first hand accounts of different marriages and lifestyles. I became a free range parent.

I know that this is all good for her. I understand how wise I have been. But lately, I have been reminded that I  have less than two years until my oldest daughter leaves for university and my 13-year-old is starting to plan for her exchanges abroad. I am rethinking this wisdom.

Would it be wrong to just lock the doors?

To take a break from sharing try once more to be everything?

I feel the helicopter rotors starting….

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