Updated: Sep 29, 2019
"While we try to teach our children all about life - our children teach us what life is all about." Angela Schmidt.
When I became a mother for the first time in 1996, I do not believe that I looked into my son's baby blue eyes and thought, "you will teach me what life is all about." Twenty-plus years later and three more boys - I know that my children have taught me a few things about life and perspective.
I am not sure about all mother's, but I would wager that when that new born child is placed in our arms - it is as if we have a crystal ball and we can see into the future We begin to create hopes, dreams and expectations for that child - the happily ever after. I tend to think it is natural - but I have always been a forward thinker and often miss the present moment (a work in progress).
I have always been amazed at the different personalities of each one of my boys. Old soul, rule follower, non-conformist, energizer bunny, social butterfly, quiet, introvert, extrovert, intelligent, thinker, mechanical, determined, I will do it MY way, tender, kind, compassionate - each one sprinkled lightly with each quality and some doused heavily.
I have learned from each one of my boys - but perhaps, the biggest AHA moments I have had is with our son Hunter.
Hunter is a great kid. Charismatic, charming, handsome and full of life. He rarely takes NO for an answer and has overcome some big hurdles in life. Hunter is mechanical. Things make sense to him when he can study them, tear them apart, analyze them and put them back together.
Hunter decided at 16 1/2 he was going to start racing motocross. Russ had always wanted to race motocross as a young boy so he worked with Hunter and helped him get a dirt bike and get up and rolling. It was exciting (and nerve wracking) to see Hunter take to a new sport and start racing. Truthfully, starting this sport at 16 1/2 is about 14 1/2 years too late and requires extreme dedication. But Hunter was riding great and seeing improvement.
I have to admit - I was not a committed moto-mom. I was very hesitant to support him in this endeavor - but I willed my support. Hunter is the "go big or go home" kind of kid. However, in his case it was "go big, get hurt and hauled off in an ambulance". One accident after another, after another. It was as if he was trying to do irrevocable damage to his body. His tenacity scared me. It was unsettling.
August 2015, Hunter was all pumped up for a big race at our local fairgrounds. He had been practicing and riding well. Our son, Hayden was racing this weekend as well. The boys got the bike trailer all loaded up and down at the fairgrounds on Friday afternoon. The boys all had certain times that their class could ride the track and practice. Getting acquainted with the terrain.
It was Friday afternoon, about 3:30. My phone rang - it was our son Hayden. Our conversation went like this, "Hey Hayden. Is everything ok?" Knowing in my gut it was not. Hayden, "Mom, Hunter is ok we think. He split his lip wide open when he crashed in practice. Jake took him to the Urgent Care..... and mom, his ankle might be broken." At this point, I don't even panic or start to freak out because what's the point - I am not in control. I call Russ, "Hey, Jake is taking Hunter to the Urgent Care - sounds like he cut his lip open and may have broken his ankle."
Hunter is - I will do it MYSELF kid. Does not want help from anyone. When we show up in the Urgent Care - he is asking the doctor for scissors so that he can cut his sock of himself.
Hunter had to have a pretty intense ankle surgery to repair the damage from his crash. When meeting with the Doctor, he said that Hunter had "powdered his ankle". After looking at the MRI and x-rays, I understand why he used this term. He was put back together with screws, plates and Kevlar bands.
Seeing your child hurt, broken and beat up is gut wrenching. Having your child struggle to do things on his own while hurting and somewhat handicap is like a dagger to the heart. All I wanted to do was help him and he didn't want me to.
One of the principles that I teach in Yoga and try so extremely hard to model is "meet your students where they are at - in the moment - my teaching is about them - not me - meet them where they are and begin from that point". I teach this daily - but I was not practicing this with myself, my family or in this case - Hunter.
When I came to this realization during Hunter's recovery, I shifted my approach. Instead of forcing him to accept my help and then being disappointed when he would reject it, I offered help and then let it go - I even brought him RockStars - which I am strongly opposed to. This wasn't about me - it was about him - dealing with this new injury and facing some pretty tough facts about his future - he had to figure out how to do this on his own and that is exactly what Hunter is great at doing. Analyzing, taking apart, feeling, discovering, what works and what doesn't.
How amazing would it be if our children could openly say, "I am struggling to figure all of this out and I truly don't need you barking in my face - constantly asking me if everything is ok or what you can do to help. Can you please, please, please, just take me by the hand or walk beside me and meet me where I am?" In all things, in all aspects of life - I truly believe this is what we need from each other.
Believe me - I am not perfect and I remind myself frequently - this is not about me - this is about them and I am here to walk beside them and offer assistance along the way. My children, my boys, the greatest teachers in my life.