School is out for the summer, but my brain is working on a puzzle with missing pieces today, and I long for the comfort I might feel if I could just figure it out. If only there were some way to know what to expect moving forward. Today’s “puzzle-solving” is a delusional practice because it’s not a puzzle at all. It’s more like…unknowns. Unknowns that, despite how often I turn them around inside my brain, I cannot find the answers. I’m certain I’m not alone on this.
What will happen next school year?
Will they pass their classes?
If they don’t, what does that mean for their future?
Should I be doing something different?
Is this the best school for them?
Are they even learning?
Each stage of childhood comes with questions like these, but there’s something about these teen years…these last four years leading into adulthood that has always made me feel a little sick to my stomach.
The stakes seem higher now, don’t they? There’s a finality behind them, and I can feel the palpable desperation in each parent around me, questioning what’s next for their child. As conversations grow about graduation requirements and report cards are sent out, our panic begins to rise until there’s energy practically bouncing off of us, begging for an answer to the same two questions over and over…
Will they be ok?
Did I get it right?
Does anything else matter more to us as parents? Is there anything more capable of making us doubt them or ourselves? With each calendar page flip, our frantic hearts beat faster as we realize the inevitable truth…we are losing control.
In each passing day, they belong less and less to us and more and more to themselves, and nothing makes a mama’s blood run cold faster than fear. Fear has a nasty way of bringing out the worst in us. We become more critical, controlling, impatient, and demanding, and the only result we get from it is DIVISION.
Our “babies” are entering the wonderful stage of individuation. I wouldn’t say I like that word. I don’t even like the way it looks on the page. Individuation…pfft! 🙄The process of separating from all formative influences (aka parents) and becoming their own person. Individuation leads them through the difficult process of learning to become “their own person” while remaining part of our family. It’s an undertaking that must happen for our teens and soon-to-be young adults to begin internalizing and working through all that they have seen, heard, and learned about life for themselves. As they do it, they’ll try to navigate the complexity of wanting to stand against us while still needing the safety of their childhood.
So today, I remind myself that my challenge is not to find a way to control every choice, cut off every turn, or micromanage every lost opportunity. My challenge is to learn how to trust that the answer is…Yes.