In my church, about 15 minutes before the start of our main meeting, Sacramemt Meeting, we have an organist play some prelude music. It is used to quiet people as they gather and to bring reverence to the chapel. It also helps to set a spiritual tone for the meeting.
Lately, our prelude players have been young men and women who are working on their piano/organ skills. The young adults or teenagers play the prelude music and then someone more experienced takes over for the accompianment of hymns.
Today, I was VERY early. Like 40 minutes early. I found a bench up near the front and settled in for some scripture reading and perusing my material for an upcoming YW lesson.
At about 15 minutes before the start of the meeting, I watched as the D family made their way in. The eldest son is J, whom we first started interaction with when he was 12 and in our Sunday School class. He's now in his mid twenties, completed a service mission in the Salt Lake area, and has become a fine, upstanding and remarkable young man.
Oh yeah, J is blind.
I watched as his parents lovingly and carefully escorted him up the chapel aisle, and assisted him up the three steps to the stand. They guided him gently to the organ and helped him sit. He took a few minutes to orient himself, and they guided his fingers to the right keys. Within a few minutes, the chapel began to fill with beautiful, perfectly played music.
J's dad returned to the congregation benches, while Mom sat down in a choir chair near the organ.
Watching J, not only immediately softened my heart, but I began to think about some recent events and my feelings about being a parent.
When our babies are born, we have such high hopes and aspirations for them It doesn't matter what religion you are, or IF you are religious, we all have ideals, values, and morals we want our children to learn and to embody. We want them to be honest, full of integrity, educated, and to be contributing, functioning members of society. If we do happen to be affiliated with a particular religion or faith, we tend to want them to choose likewise. We know how happy it makes us, and we as parents, want the same, nay, BETTER for our kids. We want them to be sublimely......... happy.
What happens when your dreams for your children don't become realized? What happens when all that you have hoped for, prayed for, taught them, aspired for them, goes by the wayside? Until a parent experiences that disappointment for themselves, I don't think it can be understood. And even then, each of our experiences are different and unique.
As friends or acquiantences, we try hard to understand. We attempt to convey our sympathies and offer words of encouragement, but too often, we miss the mark. It's easy with our mouths to say, "that's too bad about your kid" while nodding sadly, but in your heart you are really saying 'my kid(s) will NEVER do that.' You might even convince yourself that you are immune. You're doing all the right things. Family prayer, scripture study, family nights, individual time with each child. You are supportive, you attend every parent/teacher conference, you drive the carpool, you're the friggin PTA president for crying out loud! There is no way that anything other than perfection will cross your door. Your biggest challenge will be to decide which college to choose out of the several your kid has been accepted to.
To that I say, POPPYCOCK. I'm refraining from using the BS word since it's the Sabbath and all, but really. Crap. And trust me, I know.
Just as J's parents walked beside him down the chapel aisle, guided him up the steps and towards the organ, even helping him position and place his fingers, they eventually had to step away and let him play on his own.
As parents we do all we can. We teach, we show by example, we correct when necessary, but at some point, our kids are on their own. We can only sit nearby at the ready in case further assistance is asked for. That's it.
We can no more accept the credit for a "well-turned out" offspring than we can the blame for the one who is not measuing up to her/his full potential.
So why do we beat ourselves up about it? Why do we allow ourselves to feel the sting of disappointment over something we never really had control over to begin with? Why do we continue to compare ourselves and our kids against others and their supposed success? Am I the only one to do this?
Well, no more. I've finally come to the realization that for a small period of time, albeit an important one, I was a central figure in my children's lives. They looked to me and their father for guidance, reassurance, instruction, and love. We provided it and anything else we could, in the best way we knew how. Then, they became adults and we are now merely background players. We are friends who offer support, encouragement and advice if they want it, but now, they are poised at the keyboard and their fingers will do the playing. Not mine.
I relinquish not only any false sense of control I had, but also any guilt or pride with the results. They are not MY results. Once, they were my babies, my little boys, my wrestling teenagers, and now my best friends, but ultimately they are fellow adults who are making their way through their lives just like I am. We enhance one another, enrich each other's lives and bring joy and happiness to our famly as a whole, and most certainly are forever intertwined........ but we are not a direct reflection of each other. That is simply not in the plan.
Instead, I am going to sit back and relax. I'm going to enjoy my sons, enjoy my granddaughter and look brightly to the future and whatever it may bring. I've cut the chain of guilt and regret, and instead have started a new chain of acceptance, love and happiness.
And, when the occasion does arise, that I hear one of my babies call out 'Mom?', I am going to be grateful I get to answer.