Children and Parents – who defines who?

One of my son’s best friends got married last month. My son was a groomsmen with another good friend. These were the boys that I watched grow up. These were the boys that played football, video games and had bonfires in our woods. It seems just a few years ago I was wondering how many more nights I would have to be awake to ensure they were all safe. Now I rarely see them and I miss them!

When I became a mom, I was lucky, but I didn’t know it at the time. I moved just weeks after my son was born to Puerto Rico, where his dad had a great opportunity for his career. I wasn’t crazy about having to leave my own establishing career, as I had just recently been promoted. I struggled with my feelings of being a stay at home mom. But in hindsight, those years of being a stay at home mom were some of the best of my life!

Being home with them, I was given the gift of watching them grow. I was able to see them change and discover who they are. See them interact with each other and then with their playmates. One from the beginning wore his heart on his sleeve, the other, even now, keeps her feelings private and internalizes more.

When we moved back to the states and I went back to work, they were both their own person; my daughter being the outgoing one, making friends in our new neighborhood, and my son the shy one, holding back until he had time to know the other kids. Our neighborhood was filled with kids their age, so their were plenty of peers to add a spice here and there into their developing personalities. Their dad and I both had them join activities we enjoyed as kids. For my daughter it was dancing. For my son it was soccer. Too bad we only attended one dance recital and only one season of soccer. She preferred art and he preferred roller hockey and American football.

When I became a single divorced parent, I watched the hurt and the forever changes that took place in them. My son became angry and his temper grew. My daughter covered it up and only in recent years am I seeing the effects it inflicted on her outlook on life.

What I have found throughout the parenting journey, is that not only do we influence who our children become, they also redefine us. They are directed by the spirit we give them, Yet as parents, our lives are continuously changing by seeing our reflection, good and bad, in their daily behaviors. We see their potential, and make a mental note to ourselves when we should have done things differently. We see our weaknesses, because we so desperately want to erase that gene before it spreads into who they are. Yet who they are is a recipe that can not be duplicated. They are a mixture of the good and bad, our dreams and our nightmares. We want to save them the heartache from a friend, but without, they would not understand true friendship. We try and shelter them from disappointments that break their heart, but yet provides understanding of true happiness.

I find it so incredible to see a part of me in them, but yet they are uniquely different and their own individual person. In my daughter I see who I would like to be, the adventurer. Yet she is also who I am, stubborn and knowing all! My son has my temper, yet also has this contagious laugh if you get him in the right mood. A laugh I never had. Each of them is unique and clearly unlike anyone else in the world.

So now that they are both off on their own adventures, I miss them. Yet I am thrilled to watch them engage in the world. My parenting journey is not over yet for every human being continues to change throughout life. I can’t wait to see how their lives continue to shape me into a better mom and a better person.

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