As I’m riding with my son on the way to take him to his first day of college, I’m dealing with a bevy of emotions. (Note: I’m pretty sure a bevy is larger than a bushel, but smaller than a boatload. For more information, consult your dictionary.)
Here are a few things helping me deal with the changes. It’s not a perfect list to keep me from feeling anything difficult to deal with, but a short list to help me get through it.
1 – Stay in the Moment
I remember experiencing the Tower of Terror ride at MGM Studios in Orlando. It’s a ride whose sole purpose is to drop you more than one hundred and thirty feet over and over. It was the most terrifying ride I’ve ever experienced. I cannot even begin to tell you how horrifying it was.
Until I rode it. As I sat in line thinking of the terror that was about to befall me, I imagined what an excruciating experience it would be. When I actually took my turn on the ride, I had a blast. It was a lot of fun.
As someone who struggles with depression, I often find it challenging to keep my mind focused on the now. Occasionally my mind will get away from me and imagine several negative or painful scenarios. The “what if’s” can sometimes go off the rails.
But if I can focus on what my life is now instead of what it might be, I can enjoy what life has to offer instead of fear what it might take away.
2 – Take Action
It’s not enough to want to maintain a healthy relationship with my son. I have to foster it. I will need to continue to communicate with him, even if the method of communication might change. Whereas we used to talk each day by phone, I might simply be able to send texts back and forth. Regardless of how the method might change, it’s up to me to keep that channel open.
Additionally, in order to spend time with him, I need to continue to schedule that time with him. The frequency and style may change, but making sure it still happens is up to me.
If you have built good communication habits with the people you care about, keep them going! It’s much easier to continue a good habit than to restart one. If you don’t have those communication habits, start them today. Start them slow (see Mini Habits), possibly by setting a daily alarm to remind you to call at a particular time each day, even if just to say “hi”.
Whatever it is, make sure you take action to improve your relationships today.
3 – Be Flexible
Finally, I have to be flexible. Joseph’s life situation has changed, and I have to be willing to change with it. Although I may want to call him each day, he simply doesn’t have the time that he used to have. Quite often, I will simply need to be okay with sending him a text I hope encourages him and blesses him. Although I still want to make sure we actually have a conversation at least once a week, I can be flexible as a general rule.
I’m also used to connecting online with him to play games. I may not be able to do that as much, if at all. I’m used to traveling to see him in person at least fives days a month. I might not be able to do that each month, even as I still try to make the games to see him playing in the band.
I still need to make sure I keep that connection strong, but being flexible about the levels of communication and interaction helps us maintain a healthy relationship as his life changes.
4 – Smile
Regardless of any of this, I need to smile. I need to be happy my son is making a great life for himself. I need to be thrilled he has made some wise choices and is living out his dreams. I need to hold onto happiness knowing that no matter how our relationship may change, I have enjoyed eighteen awesome years with an awesome person.
So I have to remember to smile and enjoy this road to happiness.