The speed of life is no more apparent than when you blink, and your kids are suddenly fully fledged, and independent adults…
Seriously it was a moment ago that they were babes in your arms, and the next they’ve grown up and are forging a life for themselves.
Admittedly, there is no greater satisfaction that witnessing this metamorphosis. I’ve personally loved each and every stage with no particular phase any better or worse than the next. Yep, even teenage hood!
Each phase has been special in their own way, and I feel blessed that I’ve been able to be a part of each one. For much of their early years I was always travelling for work and so missed some of the experiences I wished I hadn’t.
However, once I had my epiphany and understood what the most important things in my life all this changed.
This period of my life wasn’t without its fair share of anguish as my marriage had ended, but we all were able to weather the storm and come out stronger.
The decision to quit my high-powered corporate job to become an independent consultant and to focus spending time with them was key. Being local and cooking them a home cooked meal when I had them was an important focal point for me, and them.
And so began the most beautiful of journeys.
From my personal experience you can either resist the speed of life or embrace it!
I realized that life is short (yes, it’s an oft thrown around clique but incredible accurate) and that my mindset required significant change if I was to become the parent I’d always wanted.
First, was to take a step back emotionally and understand that I needed to embrace a different, and perhaps non-traditional way of parenting my kids.
I pledged to myself that I wouldn’t never become heavy handed, judgemental, or domineering (not that I was before), but unfortunately this is still the path taken by some parents I’ve seen.
The lynchpin was to do less talking and more listening which, as it turns out was exactly what both Zach and Sam required from me.
I didn’t want to be the same as my parents, and so rather than place limits on them, I focused on being a good role model and reinforcing strong personal values to let them decide.
They always came to me if they were wrestling with an issue, but instead of giving them my answer I asked them questions from different perspectives so that they could decide based on the overall discussion.
Over time this enabled them to mature and make good decisions for themselves based on their own personal values.
Now when I think about the speed of life, I realize that it’s made up on thousands of these little moments and decision points all along the way, not only for you but also for your kids.
The other important thing I chose to do was to provide them with opportunities to experience different cities, countries, and cultures.
I wanted to expose them to travelling the world and thus provide them with a global viewpoint through their personal experiences.
Something as simple as being able to navigate around a city that you aren’t familiar with, nor have a grasp of the local language while exploring and enjoying the experience was imperative.
Over the years we travelled extensively both in and around North America but also globally whenever we could.
During these trip I shared my wealth of knowledge about the destinations, but also tips and tricks that they could use when travelling alone.
But for those of you like me, travelling is a drug that can become addictive…
Fortunately, Zach is okay to travel but it isn’t his absolute favourite thing to do, whereas with Sam she’s always up for a trip and loves the experience of hitting the road.
Her undergraduate degree hasn’t allowed for much time to travel so I’m expecting that when she graduates, she’ll be more than ready to take a hiatus and travel.
Currently Greece is on the top of her list. Zach and Kathryn are planning a trip mid-year to Canada and the US to explore.
I can see in small ways where I’ve rubbed off on them and it makes me smile.
We only have one shot at this so it’s important that we embrace the speed of life and all that it comes with it to make this time we have special and up the happiness quotient.
Sometimes I hear other parents wish that their kids would hurry up and grow up, but I can’t imagine it going any faster.
The years have definitely flown by but have been the most enjoyable and treasured you can imagine.
We’ve been fortunate to create lasting memories but most importantly we have a close and unbreakable bond.
Hoping that all the parents who read this week’s essay take a moment to step back and smell the roses…
Until next week