Dismounting the High Horse
Oh the angst and temper. The loss of appetite as first love grips thy precious heart. Oh the tears spilled in righteous indignation at the injustices of the world and the weeping for those-who-have-not. The slamming of doors, gnashing of teeth and beating of chests is enough to make one feel caught amidst a tumultuous and raging storm.
And indeed, it is. A storm.
The teenage years…..
Those surges of rage and bliss or frustration and moments of calm….. we forget what it was like.
I had forgotten how I was as a teen.
Well, almost, conveniently. But I still have friends from that teenage-know-it-all era, who intermittently remind me of my teenage self. But here I am at this point in my personal journey, of parenting a teenager. I feel torn between my own fury and calm and wanting to slam doors and beat my breast bone piteously, and wallow in my own self-pity at the sheer energy and will power it requires to get through a day, a morning!
And then I remember that beautiful rage and anger and angst and indignation. And I stop to look in awe at this man-child who has the self-will and courage to buck the system.
A system that was constructed to nourish and guide. I marvel at the shear audaciousness of the act, and my gosh, the absolute bravery at staring down the beast – me his mother – and dare defy me. Challenging me as I sit on that High Horse of “I know best”, or “You will listen to me”.
Questioning my horsemanship!
Questioning my stability and agility!
A thought begins to niggle and to grow as I am reminded of how each generation has to go through this vital part of development and growth in order for us, as a species to grow, develop and change. If each generation was too fearful to stand up to their parents where would we be? We would not have had the protests and uprisings we have experienced as humanity, throughout our history, which have changed the course of history. There would be no innovation and invention without challenging the system. Even if I do get caught up in the comfort and grand design of my own system – it is of my making. Not necessarily always a good fit for my child. A system that requires re-structuring, re-negotiating, renewal …. More vitality.
More than that I check myself as I recall all the times I felt so certain and committed to raising a head strong child, an opinionated child, a child who was able to hold his own and use words to justify ideas or arguments. Well, here I am facing it as I teeter on my Mount, uncertain. Here I face a man-child who is so articulate that he runs word-circles around me and is still a few years off being legal!
The challenge always seems to be in finding poise in everything that we do. Never is this more important than when raising children and especially when raising young adults. Ultimately the aim is for the young adult to be able to go out into the world and have a beautiful, fulfilled life and to bring value to others and to the world. This does not happen in a vacuum and needs to be navigated tenderly. It is so easy to give in when we are tired and beaten down by our own day’s challenges, struggles and commitments. Show up. Stay connected and engaged. These are the moments that as a parent, we need to hold fast, and steer the course with the poise and grace of knowing when to hand of what and how much.
Slowly, slowly one finds the middle ground, through respect and kindness and always bearing in mind that the ultimate goal is for a fully developed, fully functional human who is able to be in the world on their own and make their own decisions. The ultimate goal is to still retain a loving, close and respectful relationship beyond childhood, teenage years and long into adulthood and old-age with each other.
That process of leaving and returning is a hard one to experience: one day the young adult can’t wait to be further away from you the parent, but then a few days later is once again the loving, affectionate child you once knew. A few days later ready to leave the house forever and never return, the next needing help with a stuck shoelace or asking for a special toasted cheese sandwich. If it makes you, the parent, feel destabilised, imagine the angst on turmoil of the young adult?
I always ask my young human, as my mother did, her mother before her did:
Why do you make your life so difficult?
Why will you not just listen to me?
I can see how this is going to turn out so don’t go
I just said No!
And just when I feel I am at my wits end and I wish this would all just be done and he would grow up and stop being so challenging, and just as I mount my High Horse and start galloping after him, to tell him what I think and how hurt and indignant I am my oldest, dearest friend arrives. I stop my horse in my tracks, albeit my figurative horse, but she knows this horse well.
“Oh I see you have old Quicksilver out again?” she says eyeing me mischievously.
“Have not seen him out for a while, looks like he is needing a bit of a run….been a while hasn’t it?” winking.
I am humbled immediately for this is the friend that knows. This is the friend that remembers. It is always good to have that one to allow you teenage self to revisit the adult self. It is good to take cognisant of the fact that this is what we all have to go through in order to grow, for the cracks to show in order for the light to get in. (Sorry Leonard Cohen to paraphrase but it is so true).
I dismount from my High Horse, Quicksilver, who is ready to go, to bolt, to explore, tired of being help back, and I hand the reigns over to youth.
At least this dismount was more graceful than some in my teenage years! I had forgotten that!
And I realise that that Quicksilver is so ready to fly. I have been holding it and waiting and now it is ok to hand it over and let it fly.
I wonder, if I could give my teenage-self advice and whisper in her ear, what would I tell her to do? To be? To change?
Through all the mistakes, the tears, the struggles, the wrong turns. Despite the fact that I did not listen to my mother’s advice, even when I knew she was possibly right. Although there was heartache and pain, yearning and longing and so much self-doubt and panic….. I actually would not want it to be any different!
What a ridiculous revelation for myself!
I would not change anything. I would argue and rage and weep and howl at the moon as a teen all over again because that is my foundation of who I am today.
It’s time. Ride Quicksilver ride, may my young adult have the richness of experience that I have had and know that I am here to put a compress on the bruise or stitch a bloody wound.
Love, growth, loss, away, together, apart, renew, change….words to hold close.
Ride Silver ride……