People are a work in progress. Our parents prepare us to take responsibility for our lives. Then we spend the rest of our lives learning from experience and trying to do the best we can. Becoming a parent is one of those life experiences. Probably one of the biggest. Strangely enough while we’re experiencing one of life’s most transformative events, we’re supposed to be preparing other people to take responsibility for their lives.
You Don’t Know Who You’re Raising
Here’s the kicker, you don’t know who you’re raising. So, based on life experience you share with your child what you have learned and do the best you can at the time. Meanwhile, you realize the person you are responsible for raising is nothing like you. They have totally different interests and temperament. You enjoy reading and quiet activities around the house. Then one rainy, cold spring day you find yourself standing on a soccer field with a bunch of people you never would have met had it not been for your athletic son.
Child Not Capable or Mom Not Ready?
During one such soccer game I overheard a couple mothers discussing their son’s driving skills and impending driver’s license test.
“I don’t think my son is ready to drive. It just scares me to death.”
Is the child not capable or is mom just not ready I wondered? Our children are often ready for experiences and responsibilities that we would rather they put off a while longer. What’s the big hurry to grow up? But grow up they do, and ready or not our children will face experiences we could never have dreamt of or prepared them for.
Children Want the Responsibility but re Afraid as Well
Thing is, much as our children want the responsibility, they are afraid as well. Our oldest son was eighteen, about to graduate high school and would be going to college in the fall. In the middle of the night I hear him whispering, “Mom? Mom, are you alright?”
In my half-awake state I’m thinking that’s an odd question for the middle of the night. “I’m fine thank you. Why do you ask?”
“I had a very bad dream.”
“I dreamed that you died.”
Now, I was awake. I got out of bed and walked with our son to his messy bedroom.
“I’m not dead. I’m very much alive and will be for a very long time. That dream was about you growing up and leaving home soon. Which, in a way, is a death. Our relationship is changing. I’m not in charge of your life anymore. You are. It’s your life. I’m turning it over to you. But I’m always going to be here, and we can talk through anything. But, in the end, the decisions and the direction of your life is yours now.”
As I walked back to bed, I realized from the day he was born we had been preparing our son for this moment. And like the rest of us, our son is a work in progress but ready for the challenge of life.