I’ve been in New York City since last Friday on our family vacation. It was the best! A first for our boys. I found myself observing them — A LOT. Not just to make sure they looked both ways before crossing the street (oh, they were so oblivious to big city traffic!), but to watch their reactions, to watch them as they took in the city. As a parent, to observe them experience the city was my biggest joy.
So, why the nagging feeling in the back of my mind? Yes, I was sure it was there, day and night.
It was all of the Holy Moly stuff that’s been plaguing my mind. I hadn’t been able to totally Let Go of it. As much as I wanted to enjoy vacation, I can’t deny that this whole topic of our kids, their future, societal pressures, who they are growing up to be, what am I going to do about it?, ALL OF IT, was looming somewhere in the back of my mind.
As I crawled in bed, our last night there, all of these thoughts, along with the joy of the last several days swirling around in my head, made for quite a muddled soup… I reached for my phone and read the following email:
In response to your “Holy Moly” series…
Raising a child is the most eye-awakening experience into one’s self. I was prepared by who I believe is the most perfect mother ever, but I made choices through my teen and young adult years that may have had me in many places other than where I am today, and I was a GOOD kid!
All to say, as my mother did, I started preparing [my son] Elijah for this world as early as I can remember in an age-appropriate way: sex, drugs, alcohol, ‘bad touches’, racism (and all other types of ‘-isms’). Understand, never did we talk about any of these things without including the humanity and goodness within others — none of us can get too far without others.
The themes I cherish most (and can go on and on about) are “village” and “journey.” For the purpose of responding to your article, here’s where I see these themes fitting.
In raising my own children I’ve realized it wasn’t the perfection within my mother, but the perfection within my village, the same village still standing by me today and loving me regardless of my imperfections. They guide me through storms even if just in their presence and not words (for some, in memory). No parent, no matter how good they are, can raise a child by themselves. Each person is complex and every person within the village gives a little something different, rounding out those rough edges and giving them a piece of confidence in the greatness within themselves. I often say, You have to build them up very high because there are enough folks in this world chipping away at them saying “you can’t,” “you’re not good enough,” “your not smart enough.” — We need to give them something to have left over for them to build their confidence back up and hope they don’t drown their sorrows in unhealthy choices.
Through Elijah I’m learning it doesn’t matter how perfect I am, or how perfect his village, this life is HIS journey and NOT MINE. You see, at one time or other, we all had feelings of being invincible, which is what gives us the courage to take wonderful chances as a child/teen/young adult we’d never try as an adult or have to be convinced to try (I love this about young people). But this invincibility is also the thing allowing them to think the negative effects of drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex, etc will not happen to them. All we can do as parents is to expect the best we believe our children can deliver.
Yes, expect the best, but then allow them to have their Journey and make their own choices, then pray (pray, pray and pray some more).
I was tested on this thought this year, and in the end I didn’t get the results I wanted through my intelligent teen son, but I was prepared for the worse and told him it was his choice (consequences included). In the end, he made the right decision and I only pray the fact I stepped back is what gives him the confidence to continue to trust himself to make the right decisions through his journey and to know, Mommy has her own journey and God’s work to do. God put me here to guide him, prepare him, teach him about himself, but not interfere. This Journey right here, this is his journey to do God’s work. If I interfere, how will he ever learn? And if the Journey is hard — then I pray he will find his way out and testify with the right words to keep someone else in His light and on the right path of their Journey.
A lot said, but basically all we can do as parents is the best we know how, but when our children are presented with the worse, it is THEIR choice. If we’ve done our best, we can’t blame ourselves and second guess the contents included in how we’ve raised them.
I’m most happy that with some of the ubber bad decisions I made, my Mom prayed for me (and still does).
Thank you, oh so very much, Shaunte, for sharing this with me and allowing me to share it with our TLT readers today.
The mothers we’ve heard from recently (click here for the previous mother’s story) have shared from the heart, exposing their truths, their fears, their strength, their vulnerabilities — themselves. Through their very Real and raw disclosures, I see a theme and a reminder.
To Trust. They both wrote of it. And we all know, I write about it every day. However, in the grips of Life, it’s sometimes easy to get ahead of ourselves, to want to DO something overt. Doing something is fine (and I’m still noodling there — maybe a Trust Life Camp for kids??), but with a solid foundation of Trust, that’s what melts away the fear.
To Pray. We can wish and we can want, but Praying and Trust go hand in hand. Pray that IT IS, Do Your Best, Trust. Then, Amen.
The comments from you all on this one have been such a blessing. Please continue to leave your comments, shoot me an email, whatever you’d like. This is a prime example of how YOUR SHARING has directly helped ME to learn and grow, and no doubt, helped OTHERS as well.
Sending you all Love, Love, and more Love,