Saturday, December 27, 2014

Watchers

"The hardest thing in the world as a parent is to let our children be who they are." ~ Al Anonymous

Parents are watchers. We've watched our infant children as they sleep in their cribs, our kindergartners take their first swings in t-ball, our son's trumpet playing in junior high, our daughter's triumphant smiles after a successful dance routine.

Over time we learn to watch, to enjoy, being mere spectators during the hour or so of a soccer match, the two hours spent at a softball or baseball game or the seemingly endless ordeal of grade school strings recitals - or even worse, those dreaded grade school recorder concerts.

An epiphany occurs for parents when we stop coaching from the sidelines, interjecting our wisdom they cannot and do not wish to hear on the field of play. The musical recitals are settings where we have no control. Even the most competitive among us wouldn't dream of rising up during an elementary Holiday program to scream something like, "Sing loud and hit the notes Johnny!" The recitals are basic training for parents who feel the need to inject input into every aspect of their childrens' lives. Ultimately we either learn to sit back and enjoy the joy of the program or stew over all the "imperfections." Even sitting in the stands at sporting events we eventually appreciate our sons' and daughters' struggles on their chosen fields, courts, floors or pools. If we're lucky we see how they learn to figure things out on their own. We see them making their "mistakes," overcoming "failures" such as a loss, a stumble on a balance beam, a strike out or a shot off the crossbar. We take pride in the beauty and audacity of their struggles!

We have become watchers beginning with our infants, weeks into their development. We had no control over the billions of dividing cells, mitosis the Great Creator's coaching input as we stood powerless shouting our daily encouragement, crib side, from the "sidelines."

This encouragement to our infants was simply the love we provided, unconditionally.

When, as parents of addicts, did we forget our training? Certainly there are times to intervene to save a life or to gently guide, but at some point we must get back to what we've learned from years of parenting:

They'll figure it out. They must.

Eventually our children who have spiraled into any addiction will go away. This away place can be a location far from home or in an eggshell-laden household, our children living with us but not really present. We will embark on our recovery journey, we will stop coaching from the sidelines and remembering those years of training, remembering the vision of our babies slumbering in the darkness, we will utter the words we would have never fully believed until they are finally expressed:

"You'll figure it out. You'll be OK."

Once again, we become watchers. We must. It does our children no service to interject our wisdom as they spiral into their chosen addictions. It is no more effective or productive than coaching from the side lines had been.

If we take a step back, Breathe, then Trust that our sons and daughters will find their way, throw in some Hope and Love for ourselves and for them, we will come to the realization that there is life there, somewhere, for  all of us. We can accept our futures lie along separate paths, along totally distinct journeys.

Watchers don't insult. Watchers encourage. Watchers offer gentle honesty. We do NOT interject. - we listen.

Above all, watchers don't go away. We remain available to show our love by bearing witness to goals missed as well as perfectly-hit notes. We allow our children to do for themselves what they can and share the joy in skills mastered after failing for so long.

One day along their journeys our children may thank us for watching. They may even laugh at life's challenges that we allowed them to experience and overcome.

In the meantime keep watching and … 

… keep coming back

"From a distance there is harmony, and it echoes through the land. And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves, it's the heart of every man. It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves. This is the song of every man." 
~ "From a Distance" Julie Gold, Composer