No One Owes You Anything

Here’s a thought: Your kids do not owe you anything. If you’ve done the hard work of raising them to the best of your ability, investing in their childhood lives, protecting them from harm (even from yourself at times), owning your failures, and making them feel loved, then you likely won’t have anything to worry about. But at the end of the day, they will grow up. They will likely have families of their own. They will likely have spouses, and children, and jobs. They might have goals that are bigger than yours were (if you’re lucky) and those things just might take up more time than is possible to give. They might have values that are different than yours. They might have belief systems that are different than yours. And that is their right. What they need to do in order to live a meaningful life might not fit with your ideas. I think it’s wonderful when kids grow up and have close relationships with parents. When my dad was in his final stages of life, I gladly put my own life on hold to be there with him. I never once saw it as an inconvenience or sacrifice. It was an honor that I was fortunate to be in the position to commit to. Because that was the strength of the relationship we had. It doesn’t mean we always saw eye-to-eye on things. It means that we had a strong bond, one that was cultivated from birth. One that was consistent and equal. I hope that I am cultivating that same type of relationship with my kids. I hope I always have close relationships with them. But I don’t believe that it’s their “job” to take care of me when I am old. That’s my job. It’s my job to plan for the future, now while I am young. It’s my job to do that. Not theirs. They don’t owe me anything. Because everything I do for them comes from a place of unconditional love. Unconditional. Meaning that I love them whether or not they love me back. Meaning I want their happiness above all else. Even if that happiness does not include me. Of course, I hope that I get to be a part of all their joys. I hope they are by my side as much and as often as they can be. But not at the expense of their families, their jobs, their futures. Because life will go on for them after mine is over. I want any time my children spend with me later in life to be an act of love, not obligation. I want it to happen because of the mutually beneficial relationship we have cultivated throughout their lives. You don’t get to be in a “part-time” relationship and expect “full-time” benefits. And parenting is full-time. I do believe that sometimes children will go their own way, despite how great you believe you are at parenting. Relationships will change. That is life. And ultimately, it’s neither right nor wrong. Because no one owes you anything. No one owes you anything…but you. And what do you owe yourself? Everything. To learn and grow and be better. And do better. And strive for better. And I believe if you do these things, what you desire will more often than not be given. And the question of being “owed” something will be irrelevant. We get what we earn. And the work of earning, never ends.

Published by lamandabeesleyconrad

#Writer of Literary Fiction. Writing Prof @ The University of Oklahoma. Mom & wife. Art, music, theatre enthusiast. HUMANIST.

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