It’s inevitable in every life.
There comes a time for each individual when they see the world a little differently than their parents. There are many varied reasons this happens.
Sometimes a child experiences something that a parent hasn’t, and the parent can’t see the value in the new understanding.
Sometimes a child has not yet experienced something that a parent has, and the child can’t see the value in the old understanding.
At any rate, a disconnect is formed between personal visions of the future.
Until it becomes theirs.
It’s a necessary journey we all must take as we accept responsibility for our choices.
Ann and I have chosen some things differently than did our parents. Alex and Nick will choose some things differently than we have.
I hope they do. There are a lot of things that I messed up on.
Ann and I want a better life for them.
After all, that is our reason for breathing; our “work and our glory” so to speak. I plead each night that they will know the happiness that we do.
Anything less would simply be unbearable.
But what if they would choose a direction that we know with every fiber of our beings will bring them a reduction in the possible happiness available to them?
In cases such as these, the responsibility to choose comes back to Ann and me.
I guess we could fall down in despair and wring our hands and become consumed in grief. Kind of like being stuck mourning through a never-ending night.
Or, we could allow ourselves to become so angry at what we see as a betrayal, that we shut them out of our lives. But being consumed in self-righteous ostracism eliminates the possibility of healing.
For both sides.
Or, we could abandon that which we know to be true and embrace their choices as our “new” truth, professing a perversion of true, unconditional love. But by cutting our own tether, each of us finds ourselves adrift in a riptide that quickly separates and pulls us out to sea.
Each of these options has one thing in common: the motivation involved is all about us; our feelings, our shame, our fear. It’s what we see as unbearable.
It’s about them.
That is, if it is really our own personal “work and glory”, to bring about the eternal happiness of our children.
So what happens after the initial discord in values brings shock, hurt, and disappointment on both sides?
We make a choice.
We can mourn the change from what might have been to what presently is – and then start a new day, filled with hope in a future where choices may once again become aligned.
We can push away the anger and, instead, offer continued, comfortable and peaceful family associations; not associations where the wayward soul is seen as a reclamation project, but rather a family member who is simply needed.
Perhaps, most importantly, with every breath we take, we can solidify our own tethers that demonstrate the truth that fills our souls. We can courageously stand firm on the rock upon which we have built our home, understanding that we are only capable of giving unconditional love when we can unconditionally stay true to that which we know.
Unconditional love is not about loving a child because of their choices; rather, it is about loving them in spite of those choices.
After all, at the end of the day aren’t we all children who have chosen differently, in one way or another?
And we are loved completely anyway.
Ann and I look back in awe at the brief moment in eternity where we shared a home with our children. Truly, we know joy and rejoicing in our posterity.
I worried that it would be too painful to have them grow and leave the nest, flying out into the world and not being close as important choices are made.
But something amazing happened instead.
I’ve come to understand that we don’t miss them so much as we simply feel the love and connection with each of them while in their own corners of the world. Distance hasn’t seemed to separate us; rather, it has only expanded our relationships.
Ann and I will always create a home base for our flock to return to for guidance, sustenance, and safety.
But we will always send them back out again.
Because that’s our job; our true “work and glory.”
And if they choose differently?
We will continue to choose the same. Their mother and I will love and laugh and live and be happy – even though.
It’s important that they know that.
Wouldn’t that be the truest way to love them unconditionally?