It’s a strange thing as a mother to perceive how your children surpass you in their own evolution. Of course they are supposed to do this if you raise them well, but that doesn’t make the experience any less strange.
Both of my young adult children are out in the world making their dreams come true – my son as a virtual reality video game designer and my daughter as a cosmetologist now working her way to a college degree. They are mixed race, queer, and have no financial support from parents. They have few cultural advantages and little privilege other than natural born intelligence and creative talent (and admittedly my daughter is beautiful in an exotic way, which helps her in the world whether we like it or not). And yet they have whatever it is they need internally to pursue their dreams without having to first overcome anything like poverty consciousness, or misguided dream killing by trusted adults, or trauma.
Somehow I gave them this foundation – which was my number one mothering goal by the way (yay me!) – without having it myself.
I am still figuring how to make this happen for myself. I had dreams when I was young and I gave them up as I had to find work to support my kids as a single mother. Or at least I gave up the idea that I could make good money from what I love most – writing, art, and working with marginalized populations (without having to deal with f’ed up non-profit leaders). Everything dreamy that I’ve done the past 16 years was volunteer or not oriented to making money (like my vulva sculpture project). My creative work sustained my soul while I made a decent living on the business end of nonprofits to support my children. Now it’s time to bring the work of my heart into the world and figure out how to make half a living from it (my husband wonderfully provides the other half of our living). And I feel like I have so much to overcome to get there – worth and authority issues, what’s left of my poverty consciousness, and a lack of faith in an oppressive and disconnected world when the work I intend to do is far out on the edges of connection and relationship. I think maybe it’s harder to trust making a living on the margins rather than providing services popular in the mainstream. I already know I will never be popular. I just want my work to be financially sustainable for my simple life.
The truth is that I am envious of what I’ve given my children. I gave it to them because I didn’t have it. And now they have it and I’m immensely happy for them, and proud of myself as a mother for succeeding at my parenting mission, and jealous because I haven’t found my way there yet. It’s a fascinating place to be.