Author's Note: Today I had a vision that was powerful for me as a parent. My four sons are teenagers and young adults; freedom is on my mind. I have spent a lot of years teaching my boys to think for themselves and to recognize propaganda in hopes that they would fall in love with and insist on freedom. But today I was suddenly hit with the realization that I had been filling their heads with propaganda. It was painful, for a moment. It was tempting to pretend I hadn't seen my role in brainwashing my own sons, for a moment. But I love my sons (and myself) too much. I love independence too much. Allow me to share my mistake with you. Allow me to encourage more of us to recognize our own complicity and to make changes. Happy Independence Day!
My son, Tyran Shelton, wrote a song about how much he loves his brothers.
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But suddenly the car second from the front put on his turn signal. As he applied the brakes, slowing down to make his turn, my stomach lurched and I fought a sudden urge to cry. I'm fighting it now.
The car at the front was now far ahead of us, the car that was leaving didn't change his mind--he left. The cars behind him skirted carefully but without concern around him on the shoulder.
I wanted to cry out! "Come back! Stay with us! You can be your own car but don't go your own way!! We miss you!" but then I saw that the first car was almost out of my view and I felt my hope and fear pulled in his direction. "Wait! You're going too fast, too far! You have to wait for your brothers! We have to go get the one that got away! We miss you! I miss you!"
Honestly, I held back a tear.
Honestly, I had to get a grip.
I have a trick for getting a grip. I tell myself a new story.
So, I sat all four of my beautiful, strong, struggling, different, lovely sons down at a coffee shop in my mind. They were gabbing amongst themselves, laughing and teasing and living in the energy that grows when they are together and completely comfortable. Before they had time to remember the small cracks and jealousies in their relationships, the me in my imagination spoke up. "Okay boys," I told them, surprising myself with the conviction in my voice and surprising myself even more with the authenticity of it, "I have to say something. Please, don't interrupt."
I sipped my organic imagination coffee and looked for a moment at each one of my boys. Then, with a breath and a tiny quiver, I told the the truth. "Ever since there was more than one of you I have wanted, more than anything, for you to have strong brother bonds. Because my relationship with my sister has been such a blessing for me, and because my selfishness as a mom has me wanting you to stay together, my desire for your brother bond has tinted everything I do."