We make our plans, set our expectations and pursue dreams, but life does not progress the way we think it will or should. Parents, this is true for your children, too. We start thinking and planning for their future early in life, before they have a voice to speak with. Preparation is good and necessary, but accept that the plan can and will change.
About 2 years ago, I was planning for my son’s journey to college. He finally decided on a school and we began to get him ready. First there was graduation, then all the hoops you have to jump through to get him to that day when we pack up the car to take him to his new home and new community. Picture the scene from Toy Story 3, when Andy heads to college. That scene wells up all the emotions you feel when that day comes. Fast forward to a year and half later, when my son returns home for the Christmas break, to find out he decides to stay. My heart was prepared for this, call it intuition. I knew he was having a difficult time adjusting for many reasons.
His senior year of high school was a time of grief for me. People say your children grow-up and parenting goes so fast. Well it does, especially when you are the step-parent. I married my husband when the boys were 7 and 9 years old. My heart was grieving that I didn’t know them sooner and I didn’t have more time with them. This made me sad and I was dealing with the loss.
I am grateful for the gift of time and the growth in our relationship. Something has shifted since he returned home. I see him now as the man he is becoming, and it is a new relationship with an adult-child. We can have discussions and debate life, faith, and politics. I can really hear his heart about what he values and observe passions and dreams that are growing inside of him. I’ve been given time to still influence his future, but not tell him what to do.
I have experienced so much gratitude for growth, the growth I see in him and my personal growth. My mind has been opened to a new path for my son, instead of my tunnel vision ideal for where he should be and what I expect. Our children have to make their path and we have to get out of the way. We have to get away from seeing our kids through our personal journey and choices we made, whether good or bad. Then we can really see our kids, their needs and desires and allow them to make their own path.
Sometimes what appears to be a bad or disappointing situation might be the catalyst that takes you to a place of gratitude and growth. This experience has really grown my faith, too. We don’t always know or see the big picture, but I believe something good always comes out the disappointments and detours in life. I can be grateful in the process and in the anticipation of what the next step is. I don’t want to look at life through regrets and mistakes but stepping stones to whatever is next for me and for my boys.