In this next month our life’s journey will be taking us to yet another untravelled destination. Although so much of me would love a rewind button to go back through my life to make a few decisions differently or redo a few different parts, I can’t. From where I sit today a pause button would be my pot of gold. How is it possible that I have a graduate? Wasn’t she just a baby? The elders weren’t kidding when they said the worry gets larger as they grow. Holy cow it seems like just yesterday my biggest concern was clean diapers and bed times and I thought that was tough. (If you are in that stage right now, bless, it is tough…but fasten your seatbelt.) Now it’s driving, dating and…. You know all the stuff that comes along with both. How do parents survive this shit? (ANSWER: Jesus, family, girlfriends, hair dye, and chardonnay. Trust me.) Why doesn’t this journey come with directions and a detailed map?
Some days I feel like I’d give anything to revisit the past and hold my babies in the middle of the night. To feel their chubby hands on my face as I fed them would be a dream come true. As much as I appreciate and am utterly grateful for theses sweet moments within my heart I don’t want to miss the journey by longing for the past. It’s a conundrum between my head and heart. I love being in a place where I can watch each of them grow and develop in their own way and on their own time. I’m in awe, most of the time (HA), of who these humans are at their very core, much to their own credit. (Occasionally I have to look really hard to find it. They are teens afterall.) As parents I think it’s in our very nature to protect, guide, maybe even control situations and surroundings for our kids. Most likely we’ve made mistakes ourselves and we want to save them from whatever negative that we’ve attached to it. I know that I feel this on the regular.
One of my kids calls me a detective because he’ll tell me something and then the interrogation begins (I may have missed my calling)....I try to explain to him that I’ve been around a few blocks (and by the way kid...if you did half the things that I did I would think that I was failing in the parenting department). This is so contradictory to how I feel about my own parents. They were good parents who did a really good job, but let me tell you we had some poor judgement and made some bad decisions. (Purple Passion… enough said.) I had free will and a little bit of latitude and occasionally I took it. I still loved God, loved them, and turned out relatively well (depending on who you ask). There’s hope.
We, as loving parents, want to keep the nasty elements of life away from their sweet souls so as to preserve the innocence and goodness that we know is in their hearts. We KNOW, from experience that the world is capable of destroying that sweet nectar. I’ve witnessed my kids emerging, however, from the fake bubble that I thought that I had ever so gently placed around them, and have reluctantly (ish) begun to literally hand over the keys. It’s time, for two of them, I’ll still hold on to the baby a bit longer. It’s been really amazing for me to witness the capabilities, strengths, and faith that they each exhibit on their own accord, without my interruption and continuous direction. (My arms are still out on both sides of them just in case they need some balance.)
Many times I think we, as parents, parent out of a place of fear. What if this… What if that… Oh my goodness THIS IS ME. Every time they leave the house I pray. EVERY. TIME. I perceive this false sense of control and think that if I hold them a little tighter that maybe their decisions will become my decisions and they will be ok. You know because all of my decisions turned out ok...I giggle. I want to spare them from pain, disappointment, fear etc… I want to be there to wipe every tear or to celebrate every victory. Jesus is on speed dial and I have to continuously be reminded that he loves them more than I do, and that he’s got them, and that I need to give them.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
…here’s to hoping that book is right like I believe that it is. KIDDING!
I was talking the other day to a dear friend and as we laughed about some of the mistakes of our past (man do I have a few) I smiled at the thought that I WOULDN’T have changed most of my ‘mistakes’ because even the heartaches made me who I am. Many of the events that I count as my biggest ‘mistakes’ make me laugh today. So were they really mistakes, or necessary speed bumps along my road of life? Honestly, probably the latter, but I don’t like to think that way as I’m still attempting to captain three other ships. It’s important for me to keep recalling this thought, however, as my own kids navigate through their own lives. Mistakes or bumps are bound to happen, but these experiences if learned correctly will be guideposts or mile markers for future decisions. Mine certainly were, and theirs will be too.
Over the last few years, as many parents do, I’ve watched as my kids made decisions that I wouldn’t have necessarily made for them. We’ve discussed and navigated through directions, intentions, and other growing pains that aren’t always reflective of my desires for them today. Quite frankly, I would have done things differently in some situations. That’s just it though isn’t it? Our perspectives and desires for our children are based on years of trial and error. Rear view mirror vantage point is a very frustrating thing when you are rearing opinionated humans. I need to be reminded from time to time that I must trust the process. They’re just beginning it, and it can get ugly, before it’s refined. I know what worked and didn’t work for ME, and although I want that for them, they’re not ME.
As we prepare for one to graduate, and one to follow shortly thereafter, I’m reminded that every step of this journey has its peaks and valleys. I’m learning, at a turtle’s pace mind you, to enjoy the ride. (Preferably BEFORE I run out of gas or get car sick.) Detours, that you can’t find on the map, tend to lead through windy roads, but they open up into picturesque views, that eventually lead us back to the most beautiful path. This is why we call it life’s journey, not destination.