“Whatever else is uncertain in this stinking dunghill world, a mother’s love for you is not.”
It’s not me or my children. It’s about the minds and hearts of the people I’ve been given to guide and support in times of triumph, happiness, laughter, and rest.
I wrote in April about my older son telling me that he was moving to Florida with his friends to make a new life. This is far away from their home. Their plan was a wild 18-year-old impulsive idea. My initial reaction was shock and speechlessness.
I have always been a mom who doesn’t let go of the wheel until all the information is in order. If the information doesn’t make sense, I get a little coo-coo. Each time my children came home from school with scraped knees, blood everywhere, and tears everywhere, I tried to remain calm. I found myself thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m so calm right now. How can I do that?” I was naturally inclined to act that way. It was instinctual. I don’t know how or why it happened. I kept my children calm and remained calm in high stress situations. My husband is not as calm. He is the one who has to be able to save any “flying off of the handle” I do at a moment’s notice. He is a lucky man.
So I listened carefully to my son’s words and decided to put up road signs to warn him. I was hoping that this would make it difficult for him to decide to leave. These “what if”, “how will you”, and “what will your do if” signs are familiar to you. He was not deterred and he took a portion from his savings, packed his bags and quit his job. I hoped he would listen to my advice and not go through this hardship and turmoil. He lived his life for a very long time, made his own decisions and lived life to his liking. Then, he returned home.
My son was the first to say when he entered the house. It was not what I expected. These are not the words that a mother would want to hear. (Just to be clear, when he left, I did a little jig at the kitchen, spinning around with a big smile that made my cheeks hurt.
The next step was life-changing and left me speechless. My son chose to go to a university that was close to home, but far enough to require him to live there. Although he was aware of the financial consequences, he believed it would be the right decision. He also thought that living at school would make his life easier than trying to figure out his own life alone, far from his friends and with no access to his home. He made an appointment at the community college, where he was a freshman, and decided that he would talk to an adviser to give him an extra option in the event he wasn’t accepted to the university.
On his way to the community college, he picked up the mail and waited until his car was parked before opening the letter from university. He didn’t get in. His first year college grades were not liked by the university. He was disappointed and got out of his car to go to the college. There, he met with an adviser. He was blunt and honest with the adviser, telling him that funding would not be restored if he did not want to attend a university after his community college. If he wanted to pursue his degree, his grades had to improve and he needed to be sure and true to his word. After all that, he went to his former employer and asked for his job back. He was unable to follow the steps towards this decision. Although he admitted that he was nervous and a little unsure about having to go back to the community college, and face his former bosses and colleagues, he stated that he knew what he needed to do and was happy to have this option instead of no option. He was welcomed with open arms by his former school, and he received his old job back. Are you mature? Is this the child?
I was speechless when he returned to my house to tell me about his day. This is becoming a regular pattern. My son didn’t complain or be angry at being denied his choices. He also did not express anger in any way. His attitude was calm, but he also expressed disappointment and perseverance. He was the source of his disappointment. He was disappointed with his school performance and how it led to him not being able to get into the school he desired and the funding he needed. He also felt disappointed that he didn’t work enough. He said that this was his second chance and that he didn’t intend to make it up. How did this boy become such an accomplished man in a matter of hours?
One thing I know about being a mother is this:
1) Keep talking. Keep talking, even if you feel you aren’t getting the message across. Be confident in who you are. If you’re fully involved in your child’s well-being, and the words come from your heart then they will come. This is the most important thing.
2) Believe. My son was capable and capable of making wise decisions. I was certain deep down that he was not lost. I knew what he wanted to be when he “grew-up”. Do not let go of what you know about your children. Belief in them will lead to their belief in themselves.
3) Keep being you. I am a person my children can count on. I speak too much, and I admit it. I cry when I’m trying to communicate what is in my heart. I shout when I’m at my breaking point. I’m so overwhelmed by their behavior that I have to stop talking when I realize that it’s not possible for me to offer any kind of help or kindness. They are most dependent on your honesty and authenticity. It’s what makes you stand out from the rest of your world and other people in their world. They will know that you are the only person who will live truthfully for and with them.
4) Keep the faith. Before my son left home, I knew deep down that my son was on the right path. Although I knew he was making mistakes, I had faith that he would learn from my mistakes. Faith is an unshakeable belief in someone or something; it’s confidence in someone or something. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t doubt what you know. It’s normal, but it doesn’t mean you should lose faith.
5) Let them make mistakes. Each person has the freedom to choose. The most important lessons we can learn are those that touch our core. My words and my experiences were not enough to help my son understand. He had to experience what I was trying tell him and felt it for himself. It was difficult for me to see what was going on, but I had to trust that he would get it right. He was able to find his way out of his own failures because he trusted me enough. He was full of self-pride when he shared his achievements in school and at work. AWESOME!! This means that he took the initiative to improve his situation. He now knows his potential. He now has the ability to trust himself and his decision-making processes. He can now see and feel the difference between “right” and “wrong”. Isn’t this what parents want for their children? That feeling of “I did that” for their child.
6) Recall what it was like to be a child when you were born. My mom gave me the best advice I have ever received when I was a mother to my first child. “Lisa,” my mom said to me when I was 5, 7, 10, 13, 18, 21,… By staying in touch with your past, you can better understand and navigate the paths that your children will take. While their experiences might not be the same as yours, the lessons they learn are the same. Your heart should be open, your words should flow and you should always have a few hugs.
While there will be many more mistakes, I know that he can learn from them and avoid making the same mistakes again. This is encouraging, encouraging, and respectful. I have a deeper respect for my son now and don’t view him as a boy. I now see my son as the man he is and it’s going to take some time to learn how to relate to him. For a moment, I also realized that my role of “mom”, as I was once known, has changed. I began to miss being the young mother of a boy who I was. It made me want another baby, and to start over. But then I realized that it was not the right time. This is the next chapter. There is a season and time for everything, and I welcome it with open arms and a grateful heart.