Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Birthday Wishes August 19, 2010

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Yesterday was my oldest son’s 16th birthday. Eek! And Yay! And Wow! All at the same time…

Hard to believe we are here already. This feels like a big one. From the maternal perspective, I really feel the awareness of his growing into a young man, up and away. I couldn’t help myself from spending quite a bit of time reflecting and reminiscing on his life (and subsequently, mine) these last sixteen years and thinking about the future ahead of him. There’s definitely a bittersweet aspect to it all, as I am filled with a myriad of emotional reactions to his growing up and moving forward.

No one fully warns you when you start thinking about having kids what a roller-coaster of emotion you are about to embark on. It is a truly profound experience. The “wanting” I have felt as a mother for their happiness, for their safety, for their lives and experiences to be filled with all the good and beautiful things in the world and none of the pain and suffering is stronger than almost anything else I have ever experienced. And when you couple that with the awareness of how little control you actually have over the whole business, that experience can be quite staggering. There are many times along the way when as an honest person I have thought to myself, “My God, what was I thinking!” And yet there has never been anything so amazing and beautiful, either.

So as he (and I) pass through this touchstone, and he is learning how he wants to position himself in this life, I too am learning (slowly but surely) how to adjust my role to allow for his growth, to be there to guide and limit, support and encourage, to keep loving and loosen my grasp all at the same time. It’s not easy, in fact I have never done anything this difficult in my life, but it is worth it. The scrapes that I tend to, may be more metaphorical than physical these days, the healing and growth more internal than external, but as I try to ease back and let him make his way, I know that he is an incredible person and I look forward to seeing not only all that he is, but all that he will become. Happy Birthday Sweet Boy, mommy loves you!

 

Keeping the Peace, Choosing your Battles (aka – Prioritizing – Part 1) January 7, 2010

You know, I think one of the most useful bits of parenting wisdom I ever received is “choose your battles”. When you have kids you realize pretty darn quickly that this is an ever-evolving, ever-revolving series of considerations and compromises. It starts pretty early and apparently it never ends. According to Erik Erikson the “Father of Developmental Psychology”, human development can be broken down into eight developmental stages – each stage provides its own set of challenges which need to be successfully negotiated before moving on to the next stage. In the toddler years – the challenge is “Will: Autonomy –versus- Shame and Self-Doubt”. So as parents – our challenge is to support them in developing their autonomy while still setting what we deem to be the proper limits and guidelines based on our beliefs and sense of safety for their welfare. But “it ain’t as easy as it sounds”.
At the early stages it may be about a decision to let them take a few more slides at the playground to avoid a tantrum. As they get older it could be about what snacks they eat and when, how much time they get on the computer or game system, how late they can stay out or how long they can grow their hair. Each decision requires us to consider how serious we are about the various outcomes. Various factors weigh in – maybe you are too tired to say “no” and deal with the consequences, maybe you aren’t that invested in the particular issue at hand, maybe you want to let them make the decision on their own and trust that they will choose wisely and deal with the outcomes of their choice.
At all stages of their lives you need to assess the situation – “is this one I am willing to put up a fight for, deal with the fall-out from or simply let go”? How you answer the daily challenges is effected by so many factors, and in a lot of ways it breaks down to the simple endless need to prioritize, analyze and weigh the possible outcomes. Being a parent is a constant balancing act between holding on and letting go – how we think about it, the importance of our actions/decisions requires constant consideration, a lot of energy, a sense of our own values and continued presence. But if we engaged in a battle when we should have given in, or vice versa, the good news is, if we are lucky, we will likely get another million opportunities to rethink our previous strategy. Woohoo!