I think life is like this picture.
Not in the sense that we all stand around in the sunlight with beautiful buildings in the backdrop while we hold newspapers up in front of our faces. But metaphorically speaking.
Think about it.
We’re all born into this world as wrinkly little beings, baring our bodies to those who conceived us and those who are helping bring us into the world. We are shiny, unwritten stories, waiting to be written and told.
Sure, sometimes there are people who have plans and dreams for us and our lives. I suspect this happens quite a lot.
Mother: Look at this gorgeous baby. S/he’s going to grow up to _______________________ someday.
Am I right?
First, I think all mothers think their babies are gorgeous. Even if their baby’s have skin that hangs off their bodies like wrinkly puppies. Or the baby comes out with a head that is a complete point until he’s nearly three years old. Or when the baby comes out so chunky she’s got fat rolls before she’s a day old.
Babies are cute, right? They’ve got personality from the minute they emerge from the womb.
And why wouldn’t we imagine these little ones would do something incredible with their lives? We’ve just watched or experienced the miracle of life. I think it goes without saying that there is a high percentage of individuals who have this moment and are then spurred on to think all kinds of inspirational greatness about those tiny beings.
And then, life happens.
The babies go home with their parents or spend some time in the NICU before going home or what have you. Maybe some have colic or health problems or they hit their terrible twos way ahead of schedule. Mom and Dad are sleep deprived, frustrated, and wondering how they’re ever going to pay the mortgage, much less put money away into the child’s college fund.
Then, one day, perhaps many years down the road, the parents have five minutes of free time. They breathe a sigh of relief, wipe down that sticky table they’ve been meaning to get to for years, and reflect.
Maybe even the kid is part of this five minute window.
Mother: remember when…..
Father: Yeah. I always dreamed that….
Kid: Are you serious? I’m not like that at all.
And that’s when the parents understand the myth.
Life is like this adventurous thing; a choose your own adventure book, almost. Moms and Dads think about their new little one. They dream all sorts of fascinating and wonderful things for the little one’s life. Then the little one is born.
It’s the little one that gets to ultimately choose the adventure for his or her life.
I know. As parents we think we’ve got it all under control. We educate them. We guide them. We instill those ever important values into their little hearts and minds.
In the end, they might as well have been born with the newspaper in front of their faces. Because even though we, as parents, dream about what our kids’ lives will be like or what they’ll do or who they’ll influence, we really have no clue.
Good intentions and high hopes…but no clue.
When I look back at this picture of four of my seven children, I never would have guessed back then, that their lives would be like they are now. I’m proud of them and where they are in life at this point.
Might I have suggested they take different paths? Or chosen different things to help them get to where they are or to get to something that I was certain was best for them? I’m sure that I did make those suggestions. I want them to make informed decisions, if nothing else.
Kids have minds of their own. Life has a mind of its own. We as parents are simply along for the ride…and maybe to learn a little something about our once little ones in the process.
Happy parenting. Instill, inspire, and love. Then watch them grow into the people they were destined to become.