Much about parenting is a game of hurry up and wait; this was the epiphany I came to recently when I took my son to get his wisdom teeth extracted.
Though he’d never admit it, I knew Brigham was nervous when they called his name, indicating it was his turn to go through what so many of us have before experienced. With a smile and a pat on his shoulder, he left my side. As I settled back into the comfy chair in the reception area, I began to reflect on the fact that exactly nineteen years earlier I was stuck in a hospital bed, patiently waiting for him to enter the world.
It seems so long ago; and yet at the same time just like yesterday.
How is that possible?
My son threatened to arrive too early, at twenty-six weeks in fact, so I was put in the hospital on bed rest from Thanksgiving weekend until the first week of January when no one was going to stop him from coming into the world, least of all me. I’d left two kids and a husband at home to fend for themselves during the holiday season, while I lay in a bed quietly incubating. To this day it feels like the longest wait of my life.
As parents, each of us is filled with anticipation…sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much, while we wait for our children to arrive in our hearts and homes…whether through us, or by way of adoption, it’s not long after their arrival when we begin to await their first smiles, babble, their first words, first rollover, first steps…
We get anxious if our children aren’t meeting the mark, checking off the boxes that we’ve mentally set up and hope for, or that our culture says are important. We secretly compare our kids to other children’s milestones and accomplishments. Though we’re told by many they all develop at their own pace; no one ever walked down the aisle with a pacifier in their mouth still we doubt.
We encourage (push?) them along a culturally driven, predetermined track from preschool to puberty. Then, as they begin to get some of their own ideas and a social life, we can’t wait to teach them how to drive so (in the name of emerging independence); we can have some time and peace and quiet to ourselves.
And then, before we know it, they are gone…each in their own unique direction, some launching faster and smoother than others…and we wonder where the time went.
No matter what their age, our kids need us for support, encouragement, and to love them exactly where they are at…not to do things for them they can do for themselves, or to try and direct the course of their lives. Not to bail them out, especially when we’ve waited so long to watch them take the reins.
Brigham made it through oral surgery like a champ. It was a gift for me to take care of him for a day or two while he recovered, and now he is ready to blaze his own path through his second semester of college.
As we take a step into 2017, each of us can find a way to make it different, better, healthier. Take the time to figure out what your way will be. And as you do, appreciate your family members for who they are; acknowledge they are contributing to life the best they can with what they know.
If we all held that kind of space for our fellow human beings, how different would our world look?
It begins at home.
Kim Muench is a married mother of five children living in Flower Mound. A certified parenting coach, her passion lies in supporting and encouraging parents of adolescents. To read more of her work, or to learn about her parenting program, go to www.realifeparentguide.com.