Although all my children, so far, have been able to move out on their own, some will always need additional supports. What they require may be for seasons, or forever. How and what best serves them will shift in small or large ways. Some assistance may be easy to provide while others may take dedicated effort. The “dreams” we hold for our futures, and for our children, may take twists and turns and end us all up in places different than we hoped for. When that happens we will be faced with choices.

When our life does not follow the one we had planned for, we may need to grieve that which will never come to fruition. If we do not grieve, or stay mired in mourning our loss, we may never experience the beauty and glory of what is our reality versus our imagined dreams. Those images in our heads may be about our futures as a single person, with another in a committed relationship, with no children, one child, or multiple children. We may have dreams about our careers, our being home with our children, working from home, and/or our retirement plans. These hopes and goals to achieve can be amazing in their minimalism or in their grandeur. The problem is not in the imagining and planning for them, but in anything that disrupts them becoming reality.

An illness may disrupt the flow we have worked hard to create, a career end can cause chaos, a relationship may not work out as desired, a pregnancy may not have the expected outcome that we believed would be, when any and all of these things occur, there is a mental and emotional adjustment that needs to take place. Our own personal makeup can create difficulty in doing so, or it can be a brief blip and we can carry on with little impact. Regardless of the situation, we do have choices before us, and if we are mindful of the choosing, we can reframe our thoughts and create an amazing new landscape for all involved. Our life may be forever altered, and we may continue our walk with scars of body and/or heart. How we carry on, within and without, can become a hindrance to or a re-inventing of a way of living that allows us to grow and expand and benefits the blooming or wilting of others.

In regards to children we bring into this world … if we hold onto the original visions of who our child will be/should be/needs to be, we may miss out on the very real children we have because we are wanting the imagined child we had dreamed about and prepared for. We may lose out on the relationship with this child that they would flourish in unconditional love and acceptance as they are. We may become angry, resentful, feel hopeless and hateful of the circumstances we find ourselves in. Those emotional responses are normal and understandable. Allowing ourselves to feel them can be the catalyst we need to then let them flow from us.

Sometimes all appears “perfect” in the beginning and we do not get a glimpse of the difference in our dreams until a few months in, and other times it may take years for things to be apparent. When this happens surface situations and behaviors may blind us to the human being that remains beneath, begging to be recognized and given respect and consideration. Our frustrations, our fears, our loss of control may become stumbling blocks to recognizing options. Often we may find ourselves seemingly unable to breathe and unable to calm our own overwhelm. If this is the case, as capable adults, how much more must be the inner and outer struggles of our child be for them? We must not lose sight of that, especially when the struggles are coming from choices being made and acted upon by the child. Rarely is there not an underlying issue that needs to be understood and addressed. Not in a punitive, controlling way but with a truly partnered, loving connection.

Life is not a guarantee of anything. Not of how we will be treated, nor whom we spend our childhood with. It does not promise us an easy transition into adulthood, nor a smooth path as we grow older. If we clutch at images that we have played over and over in our minds as we go through our days, and do not release that which does not match up, does not play out, or that we can not coerce into being, we will lose out on all that is right in front of us. If we are reactive, rather than mindfully responsive to the unexpected, the unexplainable, the uninvited … we can lose out on the beautiful variety garden our lives can be when we limit our dreams and we can impede the growth and bounty of the life of another. We can use the sweat and tears of our disappointments, our losses, and our unrealized desired outcomes to become a sustaining life force for that which is different, unimagined, and perhaps even better in its new form. Hopefully, we will become better, as well.