No one ever said being a parent was easy, simple, or foolproof. Being a parent is difficult, is a challenge, is a tremendous learning experience, and is a gift – perhaps the greatest gift of all!!
Yesterday was our annual day of reflection and celebration as we recognized and thanked moms everywhere for the gift of their love, patience, and commitment to their children. Our moms give us so much and ask for so little, it is hard to imagine that saying thanks one day a year is enough. We need to be continually grateful for the gift of a mother’s love. No one has given or sacrificed more than our moms.
I participated in a wonderful worship service on Sunday that offered a powerful message to moms, and dads, if they were paying attention. It was a particularly poignant message regarding the reality that being a parent is not about being perfect, or about having everything turn out as planned. Being a parent is fraught with hurt, disappointment, loss and pain, too. While we all desire to celebrate the accomplishments, achievements, and progressive development of our children, sometimes the victory dance is not what we envisioned.
When our children’s lives do not turn out as we had planned, hoped, or desired, it does not mean we have failed as parents. It does not mean that we have done a poor job of parenting. The path our children take is a humbling reminder that the plan, the course, and the direction of the life of our child is in the hands of a much higher authority.
As a parent who continues to struggle with the pain of my youngest son’s path – even in the face of his current recovery – is to find peace living my life despite the struggles and the adversity prevalent in his life. The first step on my learning curve was to understand I am not responsible for the actions, choices, and decisions of our children. Despite the social judgement thrown our way, many of these outcomes in their lives are not a reflection of my failing as a parent.
We are responsible for how we live our life and love our children despite the adversity in these outcomes. While I continue to feel the pain, the heartache, and the sense of loss associated with his journey, I remind myself there are three behaviors I can offer myself and my child:
- Give the gift of unconditional love — to love my child no matter what and share my unconditional, unrelenting love for my children every chance I get. When they know they are loved, they have a better chance to find promise and opportunity in their life;
- Never lose hope – when our children end up in a difficult place or make a troubling choice, never lose hope in the promise for their life. If you desire that they fight the battle to find, discover, and celebrate recovery they need to be able to sense that you have not given up on them;
- Live and celebrate your life! Even in the darkest, most frustrating times, I have learned that celebrating you for who you are, what you stand for, what you have to offer the world, is a valued gift to yourself and others. Even if there is pain in your life, finding hope, promise, opportunity, and joy in the life you have been given.
Wherever you are in your journey as a parent, I pray that your love, your hope, and your celebrations give you peace and inspire you to keep moving forward – for the opportunities in life are ahead of you!