We know our kids. We anticipate their words, expect their actions and know without a shadow of a doubt how they will respond. Oh, boy have I ever underestimated and overestimated their truth, missing the mark a thousand times with my assumptions.
My teenage daughter, starting her freshman year of high school next week, is teaching me that I don’t fully know her. Phew. There is so much to her, how could I possibly? I know a glimpse. She is showing me new parts of her beautiful, multifaceted self. She is enlightening me every day that she is full of possibility. As she grows, changes and blossoms, I step back and watch instead of jumping in and fixing, expecting, anticipating and assuming. As I step back, I allow.
My sweet bird, her nick-name given at birth, had high school soccer tryouts this week. It was a tryout for all of us. Mom. Dad. Brother and oh, yes, her the athlete. Her dad and I were wrapped up in it all. We weren’t even at the soccer field, but we wanted to share, support and protect. We “knew” what she needed. In reality, we need to shut the F’ up and let her tryout unfold naturally without our 2 cents. With dad, a soccer player his whole life and her former coach, her number one fan, away on business, he would call each night in hopes of an update, a check-in on how it all went. At home her brother and I wanted to know too. How did it go? Her brother asked each night at dinner.
It was clear we were asking too much. One look from our Scorpio daughter, I knew to not ask any more questions.
Later in the kitchen after that first day of practice, minding my own business, she came to me in tears. She thought she hadn’t done her best. (I allowed her to cry and waited until she asked me for a hug. Not a crier, she thanked me for letting her cry.) The next night, no tears, but she didn’t feel confident. (I gave her a short mom cheer of believing in her and then remembered what a friend said to me earlier that day that that’s what girls do, “think they didn’t do well.”) Then the morning of the last tryout her club soccer coach sent an email to all the girls trying out for high school. It was really a great email for me, the mama. She talked about coaches seeing only a “snapshot” of a player and that not all coaches see the same “snapshot.”
Sweet Bird’s snapshot landed her on the JVC team. 60 girls trying out for 45 spots. Oh, man the hormones and energy on that field, I can only imagine. The results were emailed to us late at night when the whole house was asleep. In the morning, I read the results, wondering if my daughter had seen it yet, wondered how she felt. Should I wake her? Should I write her a letter and slip it under her door? Should I fix her favorite breakfast? I breathed. I didn’t need to guess what she needed and instead needed to allow her to tell me. I didn’t need to assume her reaction I needed to let it happen.
I left the house before she woke and texted her to reach out when she was awake. When we spoke on the phone a couple of hours after I had left the house I didn’t need to greet her with sappy, “oh, sorry babe, how you doin’ babe” love. I let her say, “You probably know I made the C team?” I simply said, “Yes, Congratulations.” We didn’t know where she would land, but we were probably all hoping and think JV.
Her next words, were clear, grown up, direct. “I have a goal to make JV by the end of the season.”
I told her that was a great goal. I thought about asking what she needed me to do for her, but it was clear, she got this. I wasn’t needed to create a plan, motivate, inspire, console. Just listen.
Here’s the thing, I wanted to say a whole lot more. I bit my tongue. She was clearly happy with landing on the JVC team and she had a plan, I didn’t need to say anything.
We want our kids to be happy and we think we know what they need. We are often very wrong. Sweet Bird was receiving just what she needed. This is her soccer path. Not her dad’s, not mine, but hers alone. It is killing her dad, not that she made JVC, but that now she has to be self-motivated. He believes he is her (they do both play a kick ass defending position on the field) and is questioning her self-motivation. He asked me (he never asks me this stuff) to coach him on this. And I told him that the best thing he can do is nothing. Allow her to figure it out. He hated this, but says he will try.
I want to tell our son things because he is me, hubby wants to tell our daughter things because she is him. That is where we need to STOP. They are parts of us, but they are them. When we allow them to fall and pick themselves up we are doing the best thing we can. Allowing this process kills us parents, right? We need to allow it to grow us because it certainly grows our children, we know this. We may just not want to live this.
What would happen if you didn’t anticipate your child’s reaction and you allowed them to figure out their own response before you interject yours?
We gave our children life, but they get to discover and grow their own wings.
Hi, I’m Jenny Gwinn McGlothern, Certified Transformational Master LifeT Coach who has been leading retreats for women and coaching them since 2009. On the path of discovery, always seeking, it is clear that one of my favorite ways to fill my own cup is by writing. May my weekly blog give you a sip to reflect, a nugget to chew, a thought to refill. If it is an accountability partner you seek, I offer life and spiritual coaching for men and women in person in Seattle and by phone. Next Sack Lunch Mini-Retreat is Wednesday September 28th in West Seattle. firstname.lastname@example.org or www.mamaneedsarefill.com or 206 255 0463.