Mistakes We Make
The other day while sipping on a latte, collecting my thoughts and refocusing on my business plan, I was invited into a heated conversation with two sisters. The conversation started off by the older sibling asking me this question. Do you have children? How many mistakes do you allow them to make before enough is enough? After hearing their views on parenting, culture and religion, it got me to thinking about my parenting journey.
For years, I was that mom who worried about everything to do with my children. I worried about their safety, education, relationships, decisions, health, emotions, goals, actions, and whether their relationship with God will remain a priority in life. I wondered if everything that I had instilled in them as children would stick as adults.
Although the sisters agreed to disagree on their individual parenting styles, what remained the same for both is that they did not want their children to repeat their mistakes.
The older sister is a single, financially successful lawyer with 3 daughter’s (16, 18, 20 yrs) and the younger sister is married to a financially successful optometrist and a stay at home mom of twin boys (15 yrs). As I listened to them tell the other why they was the better parent, it got me thinking. I said, “being financially stable, praying with them daily, and adhering to ones culture does not warrant the best parent award. What warrants the best parent award is knowing that as parents, you have worked hard to instill the very best in your children. What they do with the knowledge as adults is totally up to them. As I spoke this, it also resignated with my spirit.
As parents, we can become consumed with trying to make our children perfect robots, that we do not allow them the space to make mistakes. While some mistakes are less forgiven then others, they are opportunities for our children to learn and grow. When I think about all of my mistakes, and life lessons, I can’t help but be thankful for the room I had to make them and all that I learned.
Towards the end of the conversation, the sisters shared that they was high school drop outs, one smuggled drugs to other countries by car, the other smuggled money. They admitted that they enjoyed the rush of it all but was happy when their parents relocated to a new country in their late teens to start over. Also, what peaked the conversation is that 2 out of the 5 cousins continue to have minor bouts with the law.
Unfortunately, we cannot control their every action, but we can control how we respond to it. Prayer works for me!
Mom of adults
The other day while having a coffee with my mom at a small cafe, we noticed a woman and her husband (they was both wearing bands) enter and take a seat. As they was preparing to order, you can see that the wife was trying to engage conversation with her husband. However, he briefly perused the menu, and spent the next eight minutes steering at his cellphone screen.
I automatically felt sorry for the wife as she spent the entire time gazing at her husband, laughing at her own jokes, tapping him here and there and fidgeting in her seat. Finally, the food came and suddenly there was a dead silence at the table while they ate. Mom and I was on coffee cup number two at this time, so my anxiety was high (lol). They was now finished eating their bagel, cream cheese and jam (one of my fav’s) and was on to their orange juice and tea. In the midst of drinking her juice, I overheard the wife say, “why aren’t you talking to me, and who are you talking to on your cellphone?” All of a sudden, I felt as though I was sitting in her seat. I felt horrible for her as she had spent the entire breakfast trying to prompt a conversation with her breakfast date. Instantly, I felt as though she needed my services and wondered how can I help her situation.
Of course, both my mom and I did our assuming, ultimately feeling sorry for the wife. However, later on that day, it hit me, was the couple, husband and wife? Was she his mistress? Was he planning a surprise for her and this was a part of the plan? Did she have an affair and was now trying to fix it? Was he having an affair? Did they argue before entering the cafe? Did he just lose his job? There was many questions as to why the husband chose to act as though he was alone while he remained focused on his phone the entire breakfast.
Which brings me to my next question. How many of us have seen something and have ran with what it appeared to look like? How many have overheard a partial conversation and have repeated it word for word adding to it? How many have ruined the lives or relationships of others based off of what the picture looked like? How many? Although I saw this behavior with my very own eyes, I haven’t clue where it stemmed from or how the breakfast ended.
Thankfully, it was mom and I, so who and what we saw at the table wasn’t something we would spend time talking about after we left the restaurant. However, for those of you who invest in other peoples affairs and have a habit of telling other peoples business, I am going to suggest that maybe, just maybe, there may be more to the story that meets the eye.
As nurturers, we can become so fixated on everything and everyone else, that we forget to take care of our own needs first. From the minute we wake up in the morning, until we close our eyes at night, we are consumed with stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with us.
Tomorrow, I want you to start your day with an early morning prayer, devotion, meditation, or quiet time. Whatever suits your lifestyle, do it. During lunch, spend at least 15 minutes of alone time and do absolutely nothing. Put your phone on mute, tell your husband, wife, significant other, co-workers and friends that you do not want to be disturbed for this period. If you know they are going to disregard your request, unplug the phone in advance, and do not tell them where you will be for this period.
At night, after you have completed your chores, make sure you spend another 15-30 minutes of alone time to collect your thoughts. This will allow you to reflect on your day, plan for tomorrow and clear your mind before you go to sleep.
I promise you, if you are intentional about spending time on self, before you know it it will become a habit.
I learned this the hard way. I used to think that I had to be everything for everyone until that day, when I woke up emotionally and physically burned out. I was now in a position of needing someone else to get me back on track. A therapist. From that day onward, I decided that no matter what came my way, I will only do what I can emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially to help others. I made a commitment to myself that I will be first in my life. Yes, I will do anything for my husband and children, but only after I was satisfied emotionally and spiritually first.
We are only as useful to others as we are to self. Make you a priority today! Before you know it, you will be birthing long lost dreams, completing or furthering your education, losing those extra pounds, rekindling your relationship, etc.
As nurturers, everyone depends on us. As off today, I want you to commit to putting self first. You are depending on it.
Earlier today while speaking with a client, she informed that although seeking to make personal changes in her life, she feels stuck because her 23 year old son depends on her financially. She further explained that although she has provided him with potential employment opportunities, he always seems to get overlooked. She believed this to be the case as he failed to completed senoir school. As I listened to her, I can hear the frustration in her voice as she elaborated on how much he eats, drinks, watches television all day and does very little around the house.
Immediately, I asked her plans of moving past this point. In a loud voice she said, ” I’ve never even thought about it. I just know that I cannot and I will not do this anymore. It’s my turn.” There it was, a decision. As I allowed her to give me her action plan, I was quickly reminded of how we as parents put so much of our needs, wants and desires aside for our young and adult children. Does this really help them? When does one decide enough is enough?
I believe that as a parent, it is our duty to raise them to be productive citizens in society and provide them with the essentials to survive in the world (God, chores, education, faith, morals, respect, etc). However, as they become adults things may change. They start forming into individuals with their own personalities, needs, wants and desires. Some follow our blue print, while others don’t.
I recently put my life on hold for one of my children to which did not line up with any of my plans. However, throughout this process, I have learned that as parents it is our duty to hold them accountable for their actions, good, bad or indifferent. Its called love when we support them. It’s also called love when we can finally say no more and enjoy our life after raising them to become adults.
As we wrapped up our session today, my client asked that I post this topic in hopes of prompting a conversation about it.
Mom’s job done
Taking a risk can often be very scary. However, if you don’t push through your fears and circumstances, you may never know the outcome.
The other day while out and about, I was asked by a very prestigious individual, what it was that I do for a living. This individual is well known in the European community for their outstanding works and service. They are also of a different culture, race, socioeconomic background, and belief. Me knowing this, I automatically became nervous and almost swallowed my tongue. As I instantly felt that what I do for a living, would not matter to them.
News flash! About one second after she asked, I remembered, that I only have one shot to make a good impression, so I answered her. Little did I know, that she, along with others in the room would take such a liking to my boldness, charisma and passion.
As a result, I am now on a new journey to fulfill my ultimate passion in life.
Lesson: Never discredit who you are, where you’ve been and where you would like to go. Ears are always listening. So, go and take that risk.
Yesterday, while having a heart to heart conversation with my adult daughter, I realized something. It was time to let go of the steering wheel and sit in the back seat of her vehicle, and watch and guide her (when she asks) as she drives. Our conversation started as, ” Brit, I really didn’t appreciate how you handled that situation.” Her answer was, ” mom, it’s how I feel, and there is nothing you can say to change my feelings about the matter.” It was at that moment, I realized that I was transferring all of my fears, doubt and past failures onto her. Further, if she was going to learn by what I deemed a mistake, she will have to be allowed to take full ownership over them.
As we agreed to disagree, I became teary eyed as I thought about all that I have done for her to avoid making my past mistakes. Or, any mistakes period! However, I was quickly reminded that although I too am close to my mom, and valued what she has taught me, I made my own decisions in my early twenties that was both rewarding and painful.
As parents, we tend to create a space of transference with our children (adults now lol) that, ultimately, can hinder their progress. While I have always taught, and lectured my children about being independent, a leader, loving, kind, non-judgemental, self sufficient, God fearing etc, I tend to take the steering wheel as soon as I think they are heading towards a mistake. Well, what last night showed me was, as a supportive parent, I have to trust that I have equipped my daughter with the necessary tools to survive in life.
Although I do not agree with her stance on the matter, I will respect her decision. Her life journey is her life journey, not mines. As she explores this journey called life, I will remember that part of who I am today, is as a result of making many mistakes.
The hardest part about parenthood, is watching our children’s journey from the back seat of their vehicle; praying and waiting for them to ask us for guidance. Mistake or not, we want to be a part of every journey (over bearing is what my daughter calls it. LOL).
One day, she too, will display transference towards her children. Only then, will she understand and truly appreciate what I was trying to save her from.
Being a parent does not warrant us the right to transfer our fears, doubts and past failure over to our children. Respecting their decisions, whether we believe, right or wrong, is all a part of building and maintaining a healthy relationship.
Back Seat Mom