As a writer, I make life as difficult as possible for the people who populate my stories. I give them flaws. I put them in impossible situations. I pile on the complications. My poor characters have to sweat and cry and bleed for their happily-ever-afters, because that old saying about hardship building character? It’s true, and it also keeps readers turning the page.
I’m okay with cooking up all these harrowing situations because I have absolute certainty that everything will work out in the end. No matter how many problems I throw into the mix, no matter how many twists I give my plot, my characters eventually land the job, get the girl, win the race. I’m like the wizard behind the curtain, pounding away at my keyboard until I’ve orchestrated everyone’s happy ending.
If only I could do the same with my kids.
Like every parent, I want the very best for my children. Love. Happiness. Success, however they choose to define it. But I hate to see them struggle. I don’t want to watch them fight as hard as my characters for their happily-ever-afters. I want to tie theirs up in a pretty bow and present it to them on a silver platter. Even though I know, I know my kids will appreciate their happiness more if they have to work, even if only a little, for it.
Now young adults, my kids are too independent for me to tell them every answer, steer them clear of every impossible situation, or beat back every complication. At some point, I know, they’re going to come face-to-face with their own black moment, and I will long to duck back behind that curtain and yank on some levers until their worlds are fixed. Even though I know I shouldn’t. Even though they likely wouldn’t let me.
Is there a happily-ever-after waiting for them on the other side? The mother and the writer in me certainly hope so.