Dreaming of my children’s future can really muddle my head.
This is partly because two of my children have special needs, so the ability to imagine what their future might look like is doubly hard, because there are so many extra factors to consider – such as
‘When will they be out of nappies?‘ and ‘How will my eldest son communicate his heart and thoughts to people, if he continues to be largely non-verbal?’
Yet the same challenge to my capacity for seeing their future lives, applies to my neuro-typical eldest and youngest too.
It is still a mystery yet to unfold.
I think it is very common for us as parents, to dream about our children’s futures, but the challenge can be to let go of the dream when the reality starts to head a different way.
My own journey as a mother has been quite different to what I expected, and yet, it has been much better.
For example, when a close friend was having trouble with her son’s school experience in his first year or so, she seriously considered home educating him. I remember that when she asked me if I would ever do that, I responded emphatically no. Whilst I was good at teaching, I preferred working with older children in short workshop-like bursts, and didn’t imagine I would have the patience to teach my own children.
However, when my eldest two children were two and six months old, I felt God nudging me to investigate home education for them, and discovered unschooling (I don’t teach them, but we learn through living life together), which lead to a massive paradigm shift in how I saw learning and the way it worked, and we were sold!
I never imagined living this way before I had children, but it has been a surprise which has deepened my joy in their company, and our cohesiveness as a family.
My husband is fond of saying of me that ‘[I was] the wife [he] never knew he always wanted’, which is a good description of how I feel about the depth of life and joy we have in our family, challenges, difficulties and all.Tweet
My point is, that we have absolutely no way of knowing what the future will hold. So whilst flights of fantasy can be enjoyable – they aren’t an awful lot of help, and instead have the capacity to rob us of the ‘here and now’, in two main ways:
One : We are so busy planning for the future, that we are always a step or two ahead in our minds and hearts.
This can stop us enjoying the present day because it flies past us on the way to the future we are heading for. Instead of treasured memories and the joy of leaning into the moment, we can finish our days with a sense that time is running out, unable to feel satisfied by our experiences, before they pass us by.
Two: We miss the people our children (and spouses) actually are, in the process of working to shape who they will become.
But this means that we are not actually loving the people in front of us, the ones we have been gifted to walk alongside, because we are trying to mould them into our idea of who they should be.
Very often if (or when) they turn out differently to our expectations and efforts, we can feel disappointed, potentially struggling to accept them for who they are. It can be deeply painful to discover that we don’t have a connected relationship with them, because we were building one with an imaginary person.
Neither of which are a recipe for success or joy.
When we acknowledge our dreams, hopes and wishes, yet surrender their actuation to God – we leave room to be surprised by how much bigger the reality is, than what we were able to dream.
We create room for intimacy, trust and connection.
We all want to be known and loved for who we truly are, not a more palatable version people have in their heads.Cassie Hubert – Create, Perform & Mother
As for me, I am enjoying the ride of letting go of my ideals, in favour of discovering who my children are on a daily basis. I am getting to know and love them more with each passing day, and discovering myself more deeply in the process.
In the meantime, I can make the choice to respond to my children’s needs and joys as they arise today, and yes, plan a little for tomorrow, but by holding my expectations lightly, I am free to have the adventure of being fully present in the moment.
Of course I still have hopes and fears about my kids’ future, but I have discovered a deeper peace, by daily surrendering that future to the one who has a full view of the board, compared to my limited one.
It is an ongoing process.
And has been worth the shift.