My younger children are at an interesting and challenging point in their lives.
They are testing what it is to oppose me and resisting house rules. They are becoming older and finding out who they are.
I have to stay completely conscious, so that I don’t take it personally. I need to stay completely conscious, so that I don’t say something I will regret.
I’ve developed a habit, so I’ll be more mindful with them. Before I get to a place where I’m tempted to boom loudly over them, and before I get to a place where I become hard and demanding, I will repeat this three times:
“Someday, they will grow up and move away.”
The first time is to make myself feel better—to remind myself that this moment isn’t going to last forever. That they aren’t going to be always bickering, squabbling and making the house a mess until the end of time.
Because someday they will grow up and move away.
I sigh in relief, because there is an end in sight.
The second time is to remind me to stop and be in the moment. It’s to remind myself that I will miss them, and this moment is precious, even if it’s trying. They won’t need me or be involved with me this much in their future lives, because someday they will grow up and move away.
I sigh in sadness, because there will come a time when this all ends.
The third time is to help me be thoughtful—and to remind myself that my words and actions, in this moment, will help shape them adults they will become. If they decide to become parents, this is how they are going to speak to their children.
I sigh in hope, because it is possible for us to come to a resolution, even with the challenge at hand. We are all smart, thoughtful humans, who are living together in a family unit, and we all want harmony.
Repeating the phrase three times gives me a moment to think about my children and who they are. To think about what it is that they are really trying to express when they are fighting with each other or trying to engage me in hostility. It gives me time to think about what it is I really want to say—what’s most important in this situation.
It gives me a moment to breathe, so I can respond with love and concern—and in interest of peace and the growth of all of us as people.
I repeat this mantra, because I want to be sure I do not respond to them unthinkingly or in an effort to control them.
My son has already stepped out into the world—he’s older than his two sisters. Having already experienced him growing up and moving away, it makes the mantra more than just a sentence to make me feel better—it makes it incredibly real.
Someday, they will grow up and move away—this is a certainty.
I remember saying to him, when he was 15, that I can’t tell him what to do, and I don’t want to. That it’s important for him to think and feel out his decisions for himself. That I can be here for advice, and to help guide him, but ultimately he has to live his life.
He is the person who will benefit from his actions, and he is the person who will face the consequences of them, too.
On occasion, he’d come and bounce ideas off me after that. He would come to me and just talk about his plans for his future and his thoughts on what he was doing now. I would sit, listen and offer advice—when it was asked—or offer my experience with similar things, without telling him what he should do.
Up until he moved out, he kept me posted about his life. He always let me know where he was and when he would be home. This part I miss, but also know that he’s out there paying attention to his words and his actions. It also makes me more thoughtful in regards to my daughters. By the time they reach 15, I’d like to be able to say the same thing to them, and know that they hear it and understand it.
I am conscious of the different personalities of my children. How one child can handle, and enjoys, long rambling conversations, but the other needs short and concise sentences right now. I’m conscious of how they are growing and what they are absorbing.
Being mindful in the moments that have been challenging has given me the gift of memories, because I was paying attention. Memories of taking our time through troubles, and memories of how solving our problems with care has led to little and big victories for peace within our family. Had I tried to race through, it would all have been forgotten by now.
Someday, they will grow up and move away.
It’s important to me to be satisfied with the effort I’ve put into parenting and guiding in our home—treating our home as a small version of the world at large. If we do good things here for each other, it will translate when they are all out there.
I hope when they grow up and move away, they do good things.
I hope they’ll know that the tough times don’t last forever, and I hope they’ll make mindful connections.
I hope they will be kind and take their time with people—mindfully making a difference in the world.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama
Author: Lori Grace (Petroff)
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Barney Moss