At church on Easter Sunday, the minister asked “what decisions have you made in your life that turned your life in a different direction?” For me the first one was easy – taking a job that led me to meeting my future husband. The second life changing decision was when we took the advice of an educational consultant and ultimately sent our youngest son to a wilderness program and a therapeutic boarding school.
That son just turned 30 years old and I am sure he would say this was a life altering event for him as well. He is doing great. He is a responsible, independent young man and is successfully making his way in the world.
Reflecting on why this decision was life changing and a career changing event brings up lots of emotions for me. First, I remember feeling so very alone. All of my negative self-talk rose to the surface – why can’t you discipline your own child, what is wrong with you, why are you such a bad mother and why are you such a failure. I felt like everyone around me was looking at me differently, talking about me behind my back and judging me. Honestly, I expected to see “our story” on the front page of the local newspaper. Then I had to deal with the loneliness when he was gone and, at the same time, feeling a sense of relief which made me feel guilty all over again. But, the therapists and mentors who worked with our son and with us were such great professionals. Our son learned excellent life skills-he learned about his strengths and weaknesses and we learned how to parent him differently.
Reflecting, I wonder how we ever got to this point with our son. In retrospect, growing up is difficult in the best of times. Middle school is particularly hard. Our son was trying so hard to fit into a particular group of students and he ended up getting bullied. This hurt his self confidence and he turned to a different, more accepting peer group. As this happened, our influence over him became less and less. Before we knew it, he was involved in activities we did not approve of and the conflicts began to get bigger and bigger as we tried to discipline him. We lost control as he pulled away to be totally influenced by his peer group.
This was a life changing experience for all of us. I changed careers from being an educator to being an educational consultant as he grew into a wonderful young man. As he turns 30 years old, I turn to another big life altering decision of transitioning towards retirement! Happy birthday dear son. You have taught us so much.
May Peach, M.Ed