In 2012 I stood in an empty house. I was leaving the home I raised my family in to relocate to the East Coast. As I stood there and walked from room to room the tears began to flow as I watched the movie of our lives run through my mind. I saw myself reading to my boys in their beds at night, sitting with them when they were sick, the rush of backpacks and homework and sports events. The many music lessons I took them to and the music that filled my house every day from classical to heavy metal. I felt the joy and the disappointments, the fights, the love, the food, the rich heartbeat of life created by having a houseful of their many friends over all the time. I thought this must be what death is like. You travel to the white light and this review of your life happens in a flash. The reels of film move quickly and you experience all the emotion of everything all at once and then here you are, right here in this moment letting go of the past and stepping into the unknown.
I have two beautiful sons. One is 25 and the other is 24. When they were born I found a depth of love that I didn’t even know existed. I looked into those beautiful innocent faces and had so many dreams for them. The day my older son was born there were two huge earthquakes. I lived on the Big Island at the time and the volcano was erupting. As I held him and the room began to shake I remember thinking you are going to change the world and do great things. Then my younger son was born perfect and beautiful a few weeks early and I had the same love and dreams for him.
I loved them more than life itself. I dedicated my life to them, but they didn’t see it that way. I was someone to be tolerated because I was on their back about homework and rules and curfew and enforced chores and discipline. I was not the popular one in the house, that would be my husband. I coordinated everything. I scheduled doctor appointments, vacations, carpool schedules. I volunteered and worked around their school hours so I could be available, however they were probably hoping I wasn’t. I organized the college audition trips and classical guitar college professor exposure for my son who is a classical guitarist. I wanted my kids to have a future. I wanted my kids to have success and I pushed so hard they pushed back. What I didn’t realize at the time was, my dreams weren’t their dreams. One didn’t want to go to college at all. That wasn’t even negotiable in my mind so off he went only to return a semester later and attend the trade school he wanted to go to originally which was MMI, a motorcycle trade school where he became a certified Honda Mechanic. I wanted my younger son to study music abroad. Every semester I would say “why don’t you study abroad” and instead of saying no, he would say yeah, maybe, not wanting to say I don’t want to. Finally one day he said “Mom, that’s your dream not mine” and it was really impactful because I realized that somewhere in my relentless pursuit of excellence they actually had to share the same vision. Were we on the same page? Not even close!
During their high school years what I was experiencing was fear. Fear that I wasn’t enough. Fear that they weren’t going to achieve their potential and damn it, I was determined to make it happen. I was going to make sure they hit the mark and I was working too hard at controlling the outcome, angry that no one was complying. Fear was driving that, a fear that was born of love. Fear that my kids wouldn’t go off to meet their potential and would live at home forever. Fear of judgment of other parents. Fear of judgment of my own parents. Fear that I was a failure as a parent. The list was a long litany of failures on my part. I was pushing my husband to check on my kids. I was pushing my kids to study, which I might add was met with eye rolling and more intense video gaming and guitar playing. As other kids studied hard for the SAT my older son woke up about 15 minutes before his SAT test and rolled in with a number 2 pencil and a foggy brain and did just fine with his SAT score. I was pissed off! This isn’t how this goes down. I was living in the old matrix where you took SAT prep classes, AP classes were the WAY, and travel sports teams were the ticket to a good college and a 6 figure income. I was drinking the conformity kool aid along with a lot of wine with friends stressing out! How naïve I was.
My kids taught me that they are human beings with their own dreams and talent. I learned over time to respect that. I realized the only thing I have control over is me, and that is when the journey back to my authentic self began. I stepped way back. We probably all have some post traumatic stress from who we all were during those high school years, but the beautiful thing about time is people change. I certainly have changed. I felt like I was holding two kites in my hand on a really strong windy day and they were fighting to fly free. The string was unraveling in my hand until I was holding onto the very last bit of twine and then I made a conscious decision to just let go.