Are you a “What Is” or “What If”?

For most of us it begins with two blue stripes. Or maybe a tiny plus sign. Things will never ever be the same again… in many many ways. From that day on, there will be more silly things to smile about, more embarrassments, more frustrations, and most likely a whole lot more joy, but the completely carefree, focused-on-self life as we may have known it, will never come our way again. Whether our children are 4 years old or 40 years old, until our very last breath, the soundness of our sleep will largely be impacted upon by the emotional and physical space which they are in. In that first moment of them being placed into our arms, interwoven among the awe and overwhelming elation, there’s a little nagging concern about them, even if it’s hovering in the background. Suddenly there’s a responsibility and care for another person, one we would give our lives for without a split seconds thought, a being who is an extension of our souls. And if things are not quite okay in their lives, there is no way we’ll be one hundred percent okay.

Along with a new year already racing in and bombarding us, often comes many changes, for both us and our children. Perhaps your kids are heading off to a new school, they will have a new classroom, a new teacher, perhaps they are off to university, or moving away from home for some reason. With any new adventures, comes a natural degree of worry and concern for our children’s well being.

My Christian is starting at his new “big school” this week, and despite his excitement racing through dressed and ready at 5:50am this morning to go to an orientation which started at 9am, I still have a little nagging pang of anxiety. It’s by no means overwhelming and I know it’s really normal, but I need to acknowledge its presence- the new, the unknown, the questions…What if he doesn’t settle? What if he doesn’t find a friend to play with? What if he isn’t happy? What if other kids are mean? What if he gets teased about his dysfluency? What if he forgets where the bathroom is? A world of “What Ifs” rush into my head.

Often the What Ifs in life tend to send us into a flat spin. They become like snowballs rolling down icy hills- unstoppable, gaining speed and getting bigger by the second….. When these moments come, and for all of us in life they do, we need to stop those icy balls and breathe… the What Ifs most often never happen, but they keep us locked into the future instead of being able to be mindfully present in the now. The quickest way to stop the snowball and to ground ourselves is by changing direction and by changing focus with the What Is’s.

It is so easy get carried away with the What Ifs on Christian’s first day, as a parent I need to step back, and make a mental list of What Is- what do I know to be true- THAT will keep things in perspective.

So What Is… my little boy IS super excited and over the moon happy to be going to his new school, he IS a kind child who gets on easily with other children, he IS going to a great school and has a kind and caring teacher, he IS resilient and resourceful, and will make a plan in difficult situations, and because I know who and what he IS, I can breathe, and remind myself that it is going to be okay.

No matter our children’s ages or their situations, we are going to have those little pangs- they are there because we love our children with every inch of our souls, because we always want what’s best for them, and we would move mountains to support them in their quest to being completely fulfilled and happy. There is always going to be a degree of stress and a few minor (or major) concerns along the parenting way. Perhaps you are worried about your child’s academic abilities, who they are friends with, who they are in a relationship with, or whether they will make the sports team they have their hearts set on making. Parents- this is normal! Inherent to parenting, comes a natural degree of worry, and sometimes, that worry can be like an annoying, buzzing mosquito, that just won’t leave you alone, and if you don’t swat it, it will eventually leave you with a nasty bite. Worrying about our kids is much the same. Another reason that mozzie needs to be swatted, is that if we don’t keep our own worries in check our kids will pick up on our concerns and make them their own.

This evening, when my husband arrived home from work, Christian ran up to him with his new school library bag and his new lunch box, and gleefully proclaimed, “Daddy, I’m all ready for my new school”. And because I’ve taken stock of all the What Is’s, I know that he really is.

The concerns we have as parents, come from a deeply intrinsic hard wired mind set to protect and preserve our offspring. When these arise, remind yourself firstly to breathe… and move past the What Ifs, swat the mozzie, splatter the snowball and move onto the What Is’s. In that way you will stay grounded, you will stay in the now, and most importantly, you will stay connected to the present, and thus, to your child.

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