My youngest son, Jordan, started his senior year. End of an era for me. For 30 years I’ve had a first-day-of-school, whether it’s Mom’s Day Out, Montessori, private school or public. This was my last ever first-day-of-school photo.
And this one feels different on so many levels. I guess with the other kids, I always knew there was more of everything coming…and now we’re at the end of the line. Or at least that hands-on, kids-in-the-house parenting line. I guess in the getting to this place, it’s made me question so many things, especially about parenting. Of my five kids, Jordan’s always been the easiest. Easy going. Easy to feed. (He’ll eat anything). Easy to care for. (He’s never sick – been on anti-biotics once in 17 years.) Easy to be around.
I’ve noticed that shifting recently, as I did with all my kids. They reach senior year and they begin to pull away. It’s as if it’s preparing all of us for what’s to come – that eventual departure from home. But it has been really messing with my happiness. It just feels so much BIGGER somehow this time….again, maybe it’s because he’s the last.
Jordan’s a good kid. But I’ve found myself worried about him lately. Worried he won’t pass all the classes he needs to graduate. Worried he’ll hurt himself in football. Worried the girl he’s got a crazy crush on will hurt him. Worried he won’t get into the college he wants. All these crazy worries that I really have no control over anyway.
And so I went to the best parenting book I’ve ever had. I’ve returned to it time and time again over the years – The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin. I did reading roulette – and just opened to a page and read what it said. Here’s page 67.
Are you in the Way?
Wise parents let things unfold
with as little interference as possible.
They remain out of the way,
not calling attention to themselves.
Their children discover
the natural harmony of things,
and work out their conflicts
in ways that establish peace.
When parents interfere,
and constantly meddle in their children’s lives,
the natural order is forgotten.
Conflicts are escalated,
learning is curtailed,
and confusion reigns.
I got it. I don’t have to worry about Jordan. I don’t need to check his grades online. If he fails, he’ll learn a valuable lesson. If he gets hurt in football, he’ll heal. If his heart is broken, it won’t be the last time. If he doesn’t get into the college he wants, he’ll get into the one he’s supposed to or he’ll go another route.
I got it. And just reading that, I felt a little happier. Lighter. Like I didn’t need to worry and try to make Jordan’s life go right. His life will go right because he’s wonderful and smart and in charge of his own destiny. My biggest job is to love him regardless of what decisions he makes and what path he takes.
And to show him what happiness looks like. Being happy in my own life, regardless of whether I’ve got four kids at home, a senior in the house, or an empty nest. That’s how I teach him – by modeling what a good, full, happy life looks like.
Now my biggest wish for you is that you go and have a happy day and a good, full, happy life!