In late December, I decided to pick a word for the new year. I opted for “choose”. As in, for every situation I can choose how to feel, act or react. It has been an interesting word and one I have considered almost every day during the month of January. I expect as the days of 2016 continue to pass, I will have dozens of opportunities to “choose” my attitude when events occur that remain out of my control.
So now my daughter is officially an adult. She is no longer a child. She can vote and get a tattoo – though I am praying she won’t! However, I realized on her birthday, I am no longer “officially” the driver anymore. I am actually now the passenger. As she blossoms into an adult, I am part of her life but now she has the right and ability to make choices that I may or may not have chosen for her. It’s really no longer my choice. I have to let go and trust that she’ll do the right thing. That’s right. Let go. Which of course as a parent can be very, very hard. I do realize, of course, that although she’s 18, she IS still living at home for her senior year. So we do have a few more months of this expanded independence and hopefully we’ll have a few more shared experiences as well before she’s actually headed out on her own.
Now that the nostalgia has worn off, I have been able to reflect on this opportunity of having my oldest child hit adulthood with a sense of joy and happiness. She is a good kid, one that now actually embodies empathy (I worried at 8 that she would never get that) and tact (in middle school that was also a concern). She is articulate and bright and incredibly loyal to her friends. And this year, she has found her own authentic strength as she has grown into a teen who wants to be a role model for her peers.
So this week, instead of feeling sad about the passage of time, I want to smile and acknowledge that parenthood doesn’t have a rule book and we do the best we can. We love them and we provide for them and ultimately as we let go and send our kids out of the nest, we have to have faith and trust that our kids ultimately will make good choices in life. Of course, whatever choices our kids do make after 18 even if they aren’t the ones we would make have to be accepted, because that is now where we have evolved to as a parent. With that acceptance and letting go, I am trying to choose to breathe a little easier this week. Most of the time it seems to be working. And when it’s not I always have the opportunity to “choose” anew.
I encourage you to consider what word you might embrace this year to ponder and return to regularly? Choose a good one!