Learning from Our Children
My son, Danny spent a month in Barcelona studying International Politics & Global Medicine at Oxbridge University. Danny applied to the school in the beginning of the year while Jon & I were dealing with Jeremy’s tumor situation. It wasn’t until the dust settled that I realized that I had really not been paying attention to Danny’s choices about how to spend his summer. Part of me was hoping that he would not be accepted- I must admit. He would not be turning 16 until late June and I felt that he was much too young to go off on his own to Europe. I actually booked a flight to Barcelona to bring him and he was very upset with me. I asked him, “Are you really comfortable getting on plane to Spain alone, getting off, going through customs and then finding the school staff waiting to pick you up- on your own?” He replied, “I’ll be fine Mom, stop worrying.” Danny never ceases to amaze me. I cancelled my flight and put my faith in him to take care of himself. The day we dropped him off at the airport was very emotional for me. Even though I had called Continental numerous times to confirm that Jon and I could go through and wait with him at the gate, that was not going to happen. When he checked in they informed us that only one of us could go through with him. As much as I wanted to go, I knew that he would feel more independent with Jon than with his mom, and so I stayed behind. It was a quick goodbye and instead of holding back I just let it flow and cried my eyes out. I thought I had a few hours left with him before he got on the plane but instead I found myself saying goodbye as soon as we arrived; it was very emotional for me, to say the least. When we arrived home that night I was nervous; I just couldn’t wait for him to call me and confirm that he had hooked up with the school staff on the other side. My 20 year old son, Jeremy said to me, “Why are you so nervous mom? Out of the three of us, even though Danny is the youngest, he is the only one that is mature enough to handle this- he’ll be fine.” I knew he was right, and so I took a deep breath and decided to embrace the experience in a positive way and stop worrying.
Jon and I arrived in Barcelona to meet up with Danny a month after he left. I talked Jon into going because I wanted to see Barcelona through Danny’s eyes and share his experience. Danny was done with school by the time we got there. When I first laid eyes on him he looked so much older than he did when I sent him off in early July. It wasn’t that he had actually matured in a few weeks- it was almost as though I was really seeing him for the first time. As a person, as an individual, and as a man. Danny had a seven day tour planned for us. He knew where we were going each day, how we were getting there, where we were eating, (reservation all made in advance) what we should wear – every detail was in order. He spoke in Spanish-ordered our meals, asked for information,and spoke to the locals – I never realized that he knew how to speak Spanish so well; I was extremely impressed. We put ourselves entirely in his hands for the week and it was such an incredible experience. He taught us so much about the architecture, art, politics, and culture of Barcelona- he was the best tour guide in Barcelona!
What Jeremy told me was so true. I learned a powerful lesson this summer. At some point in our children’s lives we need to stop looking at them as our children and start looking at them as people. Danny knows what he wants, and he knows how to get it. He is an intelligent, ambitious young man that is very clear on his path in life. We need to respect that and support him and stop looking at him as a child.
I learned so much from Danny this summer. I realized that it is time for me to step back and stop feeling as though it is my job to help him define himself. I am at a point in my life as a mother to let go of my sons, all three of them and let them take the reigns of control away from me. I am proud to offer such wonderful human beings to the world. I will always be here when they need me, and I know now that they will always be here when I need them, as well.
I wrote a piece back in May,” Realizing Life” and in it I quote Emily as saying, “Oh Mama, just look at me one moment as though you really saw me.” This summer I am seeing my children for the first time- and I am feeling so proud and confident.
Today, take a moment to look at your children and really embrace their individuality. Let go for a moment and rejoice in the reality that they know who they are and accept that sometimes we need to step aside and just let them just be themselves- and stop trying to mold them into who we believe they should be. Parenting is not always about being in charge or in control- sometimes it is just about allowing their lives to unfold and having faith and respect for their path.
As they begin to step into their purpose, we need to step aside, stand behind them and let them lead the way.