Kristina Beers: Braving the city for my son

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer
We have survived the elections of 2016! That is something to be excited about. I was brought up in a civic-minded household and, whether I wished it to happen or not, it seeped into my blood, bringing me to my current position (as of Election Tuesday) as a local school board member for my second term.

I do enjoy this part of local government. It’s something I believe is entirely more important than higher government — after all, it’s local officials who run our great public schools and determine how often our roadways get taken care of; local ordinances that determine whether one can have a laundry line outside or where to store trash bins. That’s the stuff that affects each of us in the every day.

It’s also a terrific outlet for me since if I’m going to teach my children to be good, active, involved citizens in each of their communities, then I must do so myself lest I fall into a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ category of parenting, which is quite dangerous. This is a long background into how I found myself in Detroit this past weekend at a Michigan Association of School Board conference. By myself. Rural red girl in a blue big city.

I’m a country girl through and through. After attending college, I retreated right back to where I grew up and love. My roots are here and I am happy to say I hope to die and be buried right in the church grounds I married on. My kids, however, are a great mix. I say that with much appropriate pride since it is important to provide both roots and wings; each boy making his own choice is a delight to behold. Our oldest actually lives in Detroit and our common observation has been since he was a young ‘tween’, that he is a city boy trapped in a country family. And boy is he flourishing.

I made the decision to attend this conference mostly because I thrive on continuous education for the sheer fact that everyone has something to learn, no matter what the age; but almost equally a factor was the prospect of seeing my son.

I will admit, however, that the big D intimidates me and after trying to solicit ride-sharing with my fellow board members, it was evident I was going to have to drive myself if I wanted to see my kid. Seeing his dimpled face was paramount, so I sucked it up and took courage. I am not ashamed to say much of the three hour drive (each way) left me white-knuckled with a sour stomach.

I am so glad I did. Not only did I learn a tremendous amount to assist my school district and be a better-informed board member, I had the joy of seeing my darling adult child. He looked fantastic — and slightly tired. He needed a little mothering and I was glad of it.

We went out to dinner. He took me to his church, led me around the crazy streets, helped me with directions and checked on me every day. The tables were turned and he got a chance to take care of mom. He proudly showed me around his digs while I nervously accepted his caretaking. It was a delight and I was so glad I worked with my apprehension and stretched out of my comfort zone.

If I put my barriers around my own neurosis or desires, I box out room for my child to not only grow, but for me to observe his growth. If I only want to visit him on my terms, I disallow him a chance to let me see him flourish in his own, newly created environment and see him truly be formed into an adult, let him take care of me, allow me to do a little mothering on the side, and both of us enter a new level of relationship.

It was a grand give-and-take and a lesson I will cherish as I enter these stages with each son. I love my sons, but truly they aren’t mine to ‘keep.’ They are souls who are gifted to my husband and me for a short while. We have given him a foundation of love and support, faith and morals, which seems to be serving him quite well in his stage. I can’t wait to see what the next juncture brings.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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