OMG, it really does happen… your children do grow up!
As I write this week our family has had more than its fair share of life changing moments. My first born son finished his HSC, turned 18 and got a University offer. And it looks like he may also have a job too. My second born son also got his first job at ‘Maccas’.
These were all celebratory, hallelujah moments for us and yet I found myself overcome by sadness, grief and tears.
I was overwhelmed in a full throttle ‘mumma guilt’ moment, gripped by regrets and spiralling into a negative self-talk rant about all things I didn’t do and didn’t give them. “I should’ve been there more, done more, given them more and now it is too late….childhood is done…..I’m no longer required”. Oh wow, it was intense.
Family life is always bringing forth new changes to navigate. Birthdays, new schools, new friends or hobbies and interests. If you took an ECG monitor to the heart of a family’s life-force, you would see the sine wave flow of peaks and troughs moving it along in an ever forward rollercoaster of ups and downs, beginnings and endings, sadness and joys. This is life….this is love. It is amazing and it hurts sometimes.
Changes….even good ones….can be surprisingly hard and disruptive. Endings and beginnings are always crunchy. Sadness is a legitimate feeling for the end of something. You need to walk through the doorway of sadness before you can be ready for the arrival of joy and happy. This is an essential part of the process of growth and evolving inviting appropriate reflection, assessment and recalibration.
I had to ride through my sadness and grief, which was real. My boys need me less. They are finding motivation, influence and purpose outside the home. Yes, they are crossing the threshold from childhood to young adulthood, and experiencing all that it brings – work, responsibility, freedom and independence.
My boys are right on track. They are excited. They are happy. They are ready. I’ve seen little evidence of regret, guilt or sadness from them because the lens with which they are experiencing these changes is totally different to mine. They are greedily expanding into the future and potentiality and possibilities. Whereas, I was looking backwards, holding onto the past, clinging to a narrative filled with parental expectations, comparisons and aspirations.
After my emotional implosion, I was ready to see and hear with a bit more perspective how this was a good thing. I could appreciate the blessings and recognise we are right where we had worked hard to be. The whole purpose of parenting is to equip our kids to individuate successfully and step out in to the world willingly with confidence and capacity.
What I hadn’t considered was that their growing is not independent of mine. As they grow, life and love invites me to grow too. There is a redefining of who I am, what my purpose is and how I step out into the world. A new set of boundaries and a re-orientation of the family dynamics and relationships need to defined and created.
We are still lagging behind with some other life evolving moments. So far we have not really had to navigate girlfriends, driving, leaving home or farewelling them off on overseas adventures. I am in no hurry, but of course, they are. Whoa slow down time. We all have work to do before things settle into a new harmonious flow…for a while….before the next change.
Sarah Tolmie is a Life & Love celebrant, coach, pastoral carer and consultant assisting people to celebrate, navigate, grow and heal through all their life & love transitions. Her practice focuses on love & relationships; families & children; life success & fulfilment; illness, death & grief. As an holistic Celebrant Sarah creates profound and meaningful ceremonies for all life & love events. Sarah is also a Laughter Yoga Practitioner. You can visit her website www.sarahtolmie.com.au and receive her Daily Love updates on her Facebook page at Sarah Tolmie – Life & Love