Strapped to a Rocket

by Marilynn Halas on June 25th, 2012
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Have you ever wished for something? Dreamed about it, longed for it, and prayed for it over and over again? Then the miracle happens. In fact, it’s a more perfect miracle than anything you could have asked for and you can hardly believe your eyes. The perfect babysitter, the most flexible boss, the right college for your child, the feeling is the most wonderful cocktail for excitement and gratitude. Then the dust begins to settle and you realize that no matter how wonderful the miracle, a big change is on its way. They say that change is the only constant and I believe them. So you would think that since we are always in a constant change of growing, developing, we would be good at change. But even so, it can be a little disconcerting. The perfect babysitter may mean that our child is actually disappointed when we get home and the most flexible boss may mean that we will discover that working at home two days a week means we actually get more interruptions and things end up taking longer than they would have and the perfect college for our child is everything we would hope for them even though we will miss them and would choose to keep their bedroom door for a while instead of keeping it empty.

Even the smallest change is something new and no matter how badly we may hope for it, when it finally arrives it can still be a little scary. For our kids, change is even more common than it is for us. New friends, new activities and ever-higher expectations as they grow up. At its best the family team is there to reassure them and help them grow. But when the change is for the parent, that support isn’t always as readily available. Friends and family are likely to be happy for us, but just as likely to be confused at anything less at unbridled enthusiasm for what we wish for. Not to mention the fact that many of us grown-ups like to keep the worries to ourselves and stay upbeat even when our hearts our pounding and our knees are a little weak.

So this is where the great skill of self-parenting, even self-soothing comes in. When babies are trying to sleep new moms and dads are often told that self-soothing is a learned skill that everyone must develop. The ability to comfort and reassure ourselves. It’s a great help when a baby learns that it’s okay to fall asleep when they are tired and they can roll over and get some rest without the whole house being in an uproar. The same thing is true for us grown-ups. Anxiety and frustration and all around stress are not only common parts of being a parent, they are normal. Just when you have things under control, things change. Just when the baby starts to sleep through the night, they begin teething. Just when your preschooler starts to relax at drop-off, it’s time for kindergarten. Just when your high-schooler becomes a responsible and independent person , it’s time for college and all of the unknowns that go with leaving home for the first time. That’s why they call them growing pains most of the time. Most of the time growth is a slow process, perceptible only over the passage of time. But some growth is rapid.

Sometimes change is quick, even unexpected like a rocket launched and those strapped inside can only hold on, grit their teeth and know that they are on their way to the most wonderful adventure with a whole new perspective. So whether you’re at the stage where there is leisurely predictable development like a seed beginning to sprout and grow or whether you’re strapped to a rocket that is blazing a trail up to the stars like a thundering fireball, take a deep breath, hold on tight and know that you are right where you are supposed to be. Making the journey from this moment to the next. I think grown-ups get moments like these to better understand what it’s like to be a child. Parents and kids are always adjusting to change and by giving ourselves permission to experience the moment, we have the opportunity to model for our children the best way to deal with the unknown. Because even if it is exactly what we wished for the unknown is still a little scary. I guess that’s why I really like sunflowers. When they begin to sprout, it is like they already know that there will be times that the sun is hard to find and so they have adapted by learning to turn their face towards the sun.

So here’s to keeping our faces to the sun, whether we’re tending the garden or hurtling through space.

Marilynn


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