Embracing Change: Celebrating the Milestones in Our Children’s Lives
It’s graduation season and social media is filled celebratory pictures. From preschool to high school parents are uploading scores of pictures to share with the world of their graduate. One picture posted this week settled deep within my soul as I studied it not for its pomp and circumstance but for what it wasn’t; it wasn’t celebratory rather random and simple. This photograph was of a young man who recently completed the 8th grade and is in his backyard disassembling his childhood play set. As I stare at this candid photograph taken by his father I realize that this is about more than tearing apart a play set; it’s a symbol of the changes that are taking place for this young man. He’s completed grade school; and will enter high school in the fall. The screwdriver in his hand is not only allowing him to tackle the physical task at hand but it is allowing him to make his mark, to take steps in the direction his life is leading him; a new path is being forged. He is putting his early childhood away; preparing for the next chapter in his life book.
As exciting as this time is for him, my guess is that it also brings about bittersweet emotions for his parents. The little boy who once waited anxiously for his daddy to push him high upon the swing, take make believe adventures in the backyard, or climb into his momma’s lap for comfort and a cuddle is dismantling the swing while tucking the memories in the corners of his heart where he can pull them out and remember a childhood filled with laughter, love and fun. I imagine the young man’s parents gazing at the empty space where little people once played and wonder how they are coping. This child, their third, is a reminder that along with celebrating the exciting times that lie ahead of him, their lives are changing too. Gone are the days of little kid toys, skinned up knees, piggy back rides and make believe. In the months and years ahead of him life will bring big kid challenges and adventures that will help him map out his future; one that belongs to him and him alone. Their roles as parents are changing putting them more on the sidelines as cheerleader and/or coach.
When we become parents we find ourselves at times overwhelmed, sleep deprived with little or no time to take care of our own needs believing we want them to grow up, however, quite often when these things begin to happen an odd sense of sadness settles within our soul because we are not really ready to let them go. In reality letting go of those little people is one of the most difficult things parents must do. I say must because there are no real options we have to let go. Holding them back, keeping them from reaching their potential is simply unfair. As our children work toward a new phase in their lives we must tuck away our own insecurities, fears and grief and celebrate them. Being a parent I believe is never about the parent. Being a parent means that we nurture, encourage, guide and refrain from holding on too tight; we must prepare our children to spread their wings and fly toward their own future.
If you find yourself staring at the empty spot in your yard where the play set once stood longing for the sound of little kid giggles, make believe and midnight snuggles in your bed, I encourage you to acknowledge the grief you feel as a real part of parenting while celebrating the big kid who stands in your presence ready to begin a new chapter in his book of life. Life is full of experiences, good and bad, that help mold you into the person you are meant to be. Grab hold of those experiences with everything you have and when the time comes to grieve, do it. It is okay to be sad and to grieve. But when the grieving is over, embrace the new experiences that life has given you, pick up your life book and start a new chapter, welcoming the new experiences that come your way with your big kid. In the words of teen writer and Holocaust victim Anne Frank “Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” Letting go is difficult but equally wonderful when you get to know the big kid who shows up to take on the world.
I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Check out Karla’s 24 Day Advocare Challenge updates!