Sunday, January 17, 2016

Watching. Wanting. Waiting. Ready to Start...

“I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway... let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.”
~ C. JoyBell C.

I am so amazed with the brilliance, prowess, and overall level of talent the younger generation (typing that made me feel like I am 100 years old!!!) that surrounds me has.
That inner competitiveness that makes them want to be better than… or just pushing them to make their mark; to make us proud…
And I truly thank God every day, that I am able to live life alongside my nephews and nieces (both blood and adopted) as their journeys have taught me parenting lessons no textbook could have.

It has taught me the importance of trust…
It has taught me the importance of listening and not judging…
It has taught me how unconditional love and consequences have to work well together (in harmony)…
It has taught me to properly offer guidance, yet patience needs to come first…
But most essentially (and importantly), it has taught me that in time of incertitude and misunderstanding,  LOVE is a deep feeling that has to be creeping around at all times, so it can insert itself (when the other party is open to receiving) for its true meaning to never be lost.

Last night my family and I spent the evening at my sister-girl’s house with her family. Her beautiful kids range from 21 to 26 and as usual, we were having a great time around good food. The “baby” is back in town from college and I couldn’t help but stare at her. I was dumbfounded as I couldn’t get over how beautiful of a young woman she has become… inside and out. Because of her parents, because of her personality, I had a definite inclination of the person she would become but it is a priceless thing to see it taking place in front of you…

Over 3 years ago she wrote an essay for school that I ended up asking her if I could post as my Wednesday guest post section of my blog but I never did, as the more I read her short story, the more I wanted to hang on to it for myself until I could validate the meaning; the lesson I was taking from it. Last night, I looked at her and said, “You remember that essay you wrote years back? Well I am going to publish it if you’re still okay with it.” At first she was a bit surprised, not remembering. She was even more surprised as I was able to pull it off my phone right away for her to read it again…

The class stared blankly at Ms. Brown, contemplating the impossible task that had been appointed to us: “Write a six word memoir.”
            After several jabs like “Please put pickles on that sandwich,” and “I don’t know what to write,” my friends and I really began to consider our memoirs. The example memoirs Ms. Brown had provided were profound, holding deeper meanings like “Mom and I only share genes.” My life had been as deep as a puddle: no chaotic memories, tragic incidents, or exciting adventures to draw from.
            Ashley and Norma, just as stumped as me, looked down at our hopeless papers, awaiting the brilliant words of wisdom. Being the youngest of three children, embarking on adventures of any sort proved difficult, and more importantly, expensive. Writing my memoir about hiking up Everest, skydiving, volunteering in third world countries, and traveling the world were memories I would hope to one day be able to include in my memoir.
Members of my family had visited and explored some of the most amazing countries. Partaking in activities like ocean diving, underwater cave exploration—the whole kit and caboodle.  A majority of my closest friends spent summers in the wilderness or in South America. I always hoped that one day I too could visit new places, see new things, and meet new people. 
Returning to my work, I wrote the word Watching on my paper. For years I have watched people embark on the adventures I had always yearned for. Appropriately leading to my next word choice of Wanting.  Middle School and High School were not exactly suitable years to be the next Christopher Columbus, so like I had been doing most of my life, I wrote Waiting on the purple paper. Writing these words made them all so real: they were from the deepest part of my mind-- the part that cried out to start its life. The eager girl, who seemed to be on the sidelines of life, was ready to begin. I was ready to start my adventure, ready to learn new things and try everything. 
At first summing up one’s life in six words deemed impossible, nevertheless I was able to write my memoir. The words Watching. Wanting. Waiting. Ready to begin strode elegantly across my paper. Though the words were not quite poetry, they symbolized my life: who I was, who I am now, and who I hoped to be.  Within these words was a young woman who finally was ready to start her life, and more so, feared nothing.

I remember when I first read this, my kids were barely 13 and 10 years old and I had already at that age pictured, and planned out what their futures would be… should be. I knew what would be best for them, since I birthed them, knew their personalities and interests.  I mean - I knew what their success would look like.
Reading my niece’s essay made me realize how much like my parents I was. My parents had a career chosen for each one of their 11 kids. Some would be doctors, some would be nurses, and some were to be lawyers and some accountants. And while they ended up being on target for most of us, I was one among the few who completely strayed from their vision for my future… I was the “black sheep” they loved but couldn’t control. And while I couldn’t understand how they thought they could decide my future for me, I was somehow doing the same with my kids… somehow.

My babies have constantly shown me a desire to achieve greatness, and I might have slightly ruined it by setting expectations for them that were more mine than theirs and at times forgetting that they are individuals with their own goals dreams. And while we might be in agreement on what their potential is, their journey in getting there might be completely different than what I pictured for them…
So three years ago when I read it, I decided to make a few changes. I decided to emphasize some of my behaviors that I felt would be important for them to notice and want to emulate. I decided to continue surrounding them with only positive people –read me well, I said positive and NOT perfect people- to expose them to different ways, cultures, experiences so even though I could make decisions for them, by Watching and absorbing their environment and all they were exposed to they would end up aspiring for goals I would not only be happy with but stand up for alongside to them.
And while I secretly hoped in addition to their intellect, my son would have been the best basketball player in his school and my daughter the fastest track and field runner (when neither the hubby nor myself accomplished anything remotely close to that) I realized taking pride in the experience and Wanting it would be the key to achieving any of it.
So I promised to guide them and show them the possibilities by way of being their unconditional cheerleader so they can build their own fearless goals. I vouched to pull back and not pressure, so what they want would take priorities to what we want for them and finally teach them to be patient, to know that their moment is to come. Waiting because all that could be done to prepare them for their goals has been done… I want the hubby and I to be the springboard for our kids when the right time for them knocks and they are Ready to Begin.

So last night, around their dining room table, she shared that in 2 weeks she will be heading to Bali (Indonesia) for a 4 month study abroad. Announcing that simply validated what she had wrote over 3 years ago… It not only validated her dreams but it gave true credibility to the fact that even at a young age, you can be in tune with who you are or aspire to be, if only given the proper tools…
It was time for me to share her essay. As parents, we have a proclivity to want to raise our kids in a bubble, sometimes shielding them from the most important life lessons in fear that they will not know how to cope, how to manage or how to bounce back from deception or maybe in fear that their choices will not be our choices… Often times, we confuse guidance with obstruction, discrediting their sense of self…
She validated what I took away from her essay 3 years ago, which is our kids deserve more credit when it comes to building their tomorrow, and this if we do our part which is given them the right foundation!

“Try as we might, we cannot force our children to reach their full potential. Theirs is the life that they alone must live. The role of the parent is to prepare the most fertile soil and appropriately water the seedling so it can most fully blossom.”
~ Gabriel Cousens 

To the next big designer
To the next executive chef
To the next archaeologist
To the next singing sensation
To the next medical prodigy
To the next face of beauty

To all who are working at their way, their calling, their voices…


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