Like any mother, I want so many things for my children, and I have raised them in a way that reflects those wants for them. At 16 and 13 years old, my boys have become exactly who I have raised them to be, and only now has the realization hit—all that I want for them, for their futures, may not be what they want at all.
I knew immediately everything I wanted for my children, and it started with complete, unconditional, unwavering love. My children would know they were loved, and I would make sure they knew God’s love too and all His goodness, and so I raised them to be faith-filled.
Through the years, my parenting became a road map, taking my kids on a journey through everything I wanted for them. I wanted them to have healthy bodies and minds, so I fed them well but also taught them about proper nutrition and the importance of what we put in our bodies.
Through the years, I made sure to teach them about discipline and hard work, and I pushed them to become better every day. I filled their minds with motivational and inspirational quotes, prayers, and Bible verses, wanting them to always keep the words close.
I made it a priority to show them that helping others should be part of their lives and that being kind is always rewarding. I encouraged sports and church participation, pushed them to be leaders in school and in the community, and consistently expected high grades.
And my boys are healthy. And they have become well-known, respected, and liked. They are kind and helpful, they are in honors classes, and they do play sports. They have created the lives that I wanted for them, that I raised them to strive for.
And I want even more. I want them to find true happiness without needing to seek it outside of themselves. I want them to treat their bodies and minds with love and compassion and nourishment forever. I want them to be successful and wealthy, to be pillars of the community, world travelers, philanthropists, philosophers, and men of God. I want them to surround themselves with good people who do good things, and I want them to have loads and loads of fun. They should learn to dance, sing in the shower, play an instrument, enjoy reading, and be able to take a joke. This is what I want for them.
And, one day, as we were doing nothing in particular, it hit me. What if the older one doesn’t want to dance? What if traveling is not appealing to my youngest? Do either of them even like playing sports? Have I dissuaded them from their own wants as I persisted with my own? I don’t know. But, I am always open with them, so I told them exactly what I had realized.
My darlings, I can no longer pick out your clothes or choose your friends. What I choose for you may not be what you want for yourself. I can no longer force-feed you fruit when you want ice cream or sit and read with you when you want to ride your bike. I can’t make you dance with me in the kitchen if you don’t like the music.
I can’t always be there when you have hard choices to make and as much as I want you to push yourself to be better, my better is probably different than yours. I want you to experience college but that may not be what you want. I want you to see the world, but what if you’re happiest being in one place? I want your entire life to be wildly successful, but only you can determine what success means.
I want so much for you and your future, but what I want may not be what you want, and that’s okay. As you figure it out, I will cheer you on and support you. If you’re happy, I promise I will be happy too. And I promise I will never stop wanting all good things for you—for the rest of your life.