Growing up, my mother often reminded me that I had to “sleep in the bed I made” when it came to my choices. If I made a choice that had unsavory consequences (inevitably resulting in much whining on my part) she’d remind me that *I* had made that choice and those consequences were *mine* to live with. Period.
I now find myself on the other side of this lesson – with a twist. My own daughter has made some choices that have lead her to a situation that is, quite honestly, horrendous. Every fiber in my “mommy being” wants to rescue her…and I tried…but she is refusing my help. So, I called my mom and cried to her.
A little background: At the age of 18 I made very similar choices, ended up in a similar situation and ignored offers of help and advice – in much the same way. Essentially, I am now in the same role with my daughter that my mother was with me. I am watching my baby girl self-destruct with no real means of stopping it or protecting her.
Family and friends have offered words of wisdom. Those same people have pointed out the errors she has made and given viable options to right wrongs. Though none of these people are obligated to assist her in any way they have done their best and she has been given the tools she needs to make things right.
As I cried and vented my frustrations and concerns for my dtr’s welfare my mother said nothing. She silently listened as I spewed fear for my daughter and anger toward the person at the center of the situation. When I was finished she said, “Fun isn’t it? This game you get to play. You get to do what you can to make sure she’s safe while being ever-so-delicate enough not to push her away and lose her forever. I know it well.”
I have apologized over and over to my family for the hellacious torture I put them through during the 18 years I spent “in the bed I made.” This not-so-subtle reminder of that torture earned my mother another heart-felt apology followed by an even more sincere question: “What do I do?” Her response took me by surprise. My mother took a deep breath and said, “Tuck her into the bed she has made and let her figure it out for herself.”
WHAT?! Tuck her into the bed she has made? Leave her there? Stop trying to fix it? Are you kidding me? Obviously, she is not mature enough to understand what she is doing, nor is she capable of making the right choices to get out of this situation. How am I supposed to knowingly abandon her to her fate? She is my daughter! I am her mother – isn’t it my *job* to make this better?
The answer is, quite simply, no. No, it is not my job to make this better for her. No, it is not my job to fix it and make the bad things go away. It is, however, my job to allow her to fall down, scrape up her knees, elbows and whatever else is in the way and to pick herself back up, dust herself off, and try again.
It is my job to “tuck her into the bed she has made” – assure her that I am, indeed, here for her when she needs me – kiss her firmly on the forehead and send her out into the great-big-world all by herself and pray that she figures it out before it is too late.