When (I thought) I was grown

It’s fascinating watching kids grow up (if you can step back and separate your emotions from it). They all progress differently. Each milestone comes when they’re ready and not a moment sooner.

How many young parents have we seen sharing the stats? “Little Johnny rolled over at 3 months.” “Little Susie walked at 11 months.” “Little Janie was potty trained before she was 2.” Then, as they get a little older, we start measuring their progress by how well they speak or read or ride a bike. We, as parents, often push them to excel, to hurry up and reach the next step, marking each achievement like inches on the wall. Then, one day, we look back and wonder where the time went.

I remember being a kid, feeling so independent, like I could make my own decisions without the need for any parental interference. I know my kids feel that way too. They don’t need me to tell them how to act or how to feel or how to take their next step. I can think of instances with all of my kids where they’ve expressed that sentiment.

For Laura, it was when she was 4. She told me that she thought she could take care of herself now and that her Dad and I could go ahead and move out. She was quite surprised when I explained to her that, when she could take care of herself, she would be the one moving out. đŸ¤£

Sarah has always been stubborn and strong willed (much like her mother). When she was 9, I was talking about when she goes to college. She said to me “You mean IF I go to college.” I said “No. I mean WHEN you go to college.” She looked me straight in the face and said “I don’t think that’s your decision to make.” Holy cow! I should have known at that time that she would not be one to easily bend to my will.

Matt didn’t come into my life until he was 12 but David likes to share a story about him when he was just a toddler. He wanted to do whatever it was he wanted to do and didn’t want to be told no. He looked at his dad and yelled “I’m big!” Now he’s 20 and I think he still feels that way, like no one can stop him from doing things his own way. He wants to be in charge of his own life.

It makes sense to me that they would want their autonomy. Don’t we all? I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. I like to think I have the wisdom to make my own path in this world. I got married when I was 19. Yeah… 19!! Back then, I felt completely grown and didn’t understand why my parents would have any reservations about it. Now, while I don’t regret my first marriage because it’s part of who I am and gave me many good memories and 2 beautiful daughters, I think “Oh my goodness, what was I thinking?”

Now, I’m watching my kids, all young adults, blazing their own paths. Sometimes I wish I could make their choices for them. I wish I could push them towards success, avoiding the detours and obstacles that tend to slow them down. I sometimes feel the need to reflect on my own motivation for pushing them in one direction or another.

I can honestly say that most of the time my reasons are because I want more for my kids than I ever had. I want them to be better than me. However, it also seems to me that many parents, me included, see their children as a reflection of themselves. They see their children as an opportunity to relive their youth, an opportunity to do the things they always wanted to do or be the person they always wanted to be. In doing this, I think children are being pushed to fit society’s mold. Why don’t we encourage them to cherish their childhood and every step along the way? Why don’t we teach them to celebrate their uniqueness? Why not encourage them to take the time to develop themselves personally, independent of what we, or anyone else, think they should be?

Sometimes (most times) my kids are headed in a direction that is not one I had mapped out in my head for them. I need to remind myself that their lives are THEIRS and that God has a plan for them that is every bit as special and unique as the one He has for me.

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