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Where are you going? Just a thought.
My kids, growing up and heading their own way
On Sunday, as I watched my kids tear away from me, toward the water slides at Lagoon, I was amazed at how they have become people. From the start, when they were vulnerable babies, dependent on my for every need, they have now become actual people, with hopes, dreams and plans of their own.
As I watched their tanned bodies disappear into the crowd of children enjoying the water slides, I wondered, where am I going?
While they will be with me for a few years longer, the time will slip past unnoticed, until one day, I will be watching my little Lexi make the long voyage to Mars, to colonize an uninhabitable planet. That girl has a plan. She recently heard of the Mars Project, a plan to send humans to colonize the planet in 2028. Even though it is a one-way trip, Lexi immediately decided that she intends to be on that trip.
I protested loudly, explaining that one-way meant she would never see her family again.
“Mom. They have computers. You can see me on the computer. It’ll be like a video-phone. And I’ll probably marry someone in the colony. So my family will be with me.”
And with that, another child slipped through my fingers, to find her own way in life.
Where are you going?
Parenting is hard. At some point, you realize that you can only hold their hands so long. And then, the letting go becomes the hardest part. Hopefully, if we have raised our children well, then they will walk a path and live a life that means something to them. For Lexi, that means heading off on a one-way ticket to Mars.
As I watch my children pull away to create their own reality, I question my own direction. Now that they are almost grown, where am I going? My life has been defined for 26 years, as a mom. I reckon that will always define me, but as their need for me evolves, my identity must also shift.
Where am I going? Where are any of us going? The scary thing about life is also an undeniable truth: Time keeps marching forward. We can either pick up our things and follow along, or we can resist the changes of life with every element of our being.
As the Buddha said, "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
The same could be said for change. Change is inevitable. As with the seasons, the tide, the movement of one day into the next. Everything is always changing. Nothing ever stays the same, and therein lies our choice. We can choose to allow change, to accept it and to let our lives move forward, or we can resist with all our might, suffering needlessly along the way.
How do you react to change?
Honestly, I resist change. Change makes me uncomfortable. It always brings with it a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing life, and a new way of doing things. I realize that growth comes from change, but I must say, some days I would rather stagnate. Unfortunately, life and growth necessarily bring change. While I have gotten better about going with the flow of things, as they come up, there are still times when panic settles into my belly like an ice-cold lead balloon.
Focusing on my fear of change only makes it worse, and seems to make things happen quicker. I guess I’ve learned that the best way to control the change around me is to first realize that I have no real control over anything but myself. Ouch.
That is pretty hard for a control freak to come to terms with.
I have learned, over the years, that things will always change. Although I don't necessarily like it, I adapt. It is easier if the change happens gradually, such as the slow warming from winter to spring. But sometimes change is abrupt and sudden.
When you find yourself in the middle of sudden chaos, the best way to deal with change is to take a moment for mindfulness. Remind yourself to breathe. Take a few deep breaths, and rather than be fearful, focus on the moment at hand. Only this moment, and no other. Do not waste energy worrying about the past. Do not waste energy fretting about future fears. Concentrate all of your energy into this moment right now.
What is happening right now. In this moment are you safe? In this moment, can you see peace? For just this moment, breathe and let life unfold around you.
That is how I'm learning to deal with change. Rather than focus on the overwhelming aspect of what is to come, I instead silence my mind and find peace in the moment. It helps to say a gentle mantra. "I can see peace instead of this." Something to allow your focus to settle and your mind to rest.
We can embrace change, not only for ourselves, but also for the people around us. We can be hopeful, excited and encouraging when the people around us express a desire to change, whether it is a physical change, an emotional one, or even a spiritual one.
The world is full of naysayers and negativity. We can be a positive force for change, not only for ourselves but for those around us. We can help manifest a positive outcome for the people we love.
The truth is, the only thing any of us really control is our self. And some of us do a better job at exercising self control than others. It is a lesson I have tried to impart to my children over the years. Having a lot of siblings often means having conflict. Kids fight about the stupidest things. And my job, as their mom, is to teach them that they cannot control other people. They cannot force their desire on someone else. They must learn to accept what is happening for someone else, and allow it to unfold. If they don't like it, then they can remove themselves from the situation.
Once we come to terms with the fact that we don’t really control anything, then the next step is to enjoy the ever swirling mass of life that surrounds us. Rather than fearfully hide from change and the things it brings, I hope to embrace that ball of energy and set off in my own direction. I probably won’t head to Mars, but I am going somewhere.