This past weekend was a bit surreal to me. My oldest daughter, Rebecca, moved out of our house three years ago after graduating from college. Together, we turned her childhood bedroom into my office. It was a bittersweet task as we combed through her belongings, separating them into things she was ready to give away, things she wanted to take with her, and things she was saving for her “real” home someday. That day seemed so far into the future… Read more
Where did the years go? It seems like just yesterday, I was being rushed into the operating room, Dr. Joe assuring me that everything was going to be okay. You’ve always had a way of doing things like that to us: changing the plot just when we thought we were all on the same page. You were due on March 3, 1999, but apparently, you weren’t ready yet. On March 2nd, Dr. Joe told me that you would not be making an appearance for at least another week. Of course, you do always try to be punctual, so whether my body was ready or not, you were determined to come on March 3rd. And you did.
It didn’t take long to realize that you had a strong will and an aggressive, but at the same time, sweet personality. You always seemed to be at odds with yourself: shy but gregarious; strong-willed but obedient; inquisitive and skeptical but trusting; outwardly radiant and happy but inwardly scared and insecure. As Winston Churchill said, you have always been “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
We watched you go from a smiling, confident toddler to a timid, hesitant little girl. And I began to worry. Tests showed that you are a genius, a child far beyond her years in intelligence but one who suffers from a severe lack of attention and focus. We were told you were an Einstein who would never succeed in school. Over the years, you curled into yourself like the potato bugs that amazed me as a child. We helplessly watched, praying for the right words, the right path on which to find you. What we couldn’t know, didn’t see, was that you were forging your own way. The student who was predicted to never understand math and be a poor reader has mastered Calculus and rarely looks up from a book. The girl who has a hard time opening her mouth in a crowd is a lector at Mass and a key player in school productions. The child we worried would always be a follower is president of one of the largest clubs in school and edior-in-chief of the yearbook.
Your father and I thought we would spend your life watching out for you, steering you in the right direction, worrying about your every decision. But you’ve taught us to have faith, in God and in you. While we saw dark clouds and ominous skies, you, to quote Louisa May Alcott, were “not afraid of storms, for [you were] learning how to sail [your] ship.” While we saw a path that led into a dark and scary forest, you saw “two roads diverged in a wood,” and you chose the one that “made all the difference” (Robert Frost). As we held our breath and waited for the floor to drop out from under you, you held fast to your dreams, closed your eyes, and took a leap, many leaps, challenging yourself to take the harder class, go for a lead in the play, run for the highest office, and venture into places others dared not go. And you did it all with grace and joy.
Over the past two weeks, we have seen you accept one award after another, smile as the accolades piled before you, and shine for the world to see. On Thursday night, as you march across the stage, know that you can keep marching. No matter what obstacles you face, you will overcome them. No matter how rocky the road is ahead, you will persevere and succeed. Remember that Daddy and I are always here for you. We love you. We know that today and every day is your day. “Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”
What I was writing about one year ago this week: A Season for Changes.
Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing: According to Harvard Psychologists: Parents Who Raise “Good” Kids Do These 5 Things from Curious Mind Magazine; You’re Going To Miss It on Beauty Beyond Bones; and 11 Simple Changes I Made to Improve My Writing Habit by Michelle Zunter in The Huffington Post.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole nature versus nurture debate. Are we really born with certain innate traits, or do we develop them based on environment and experience? As our oldest daughter applies to law school, our middle daughter applies to college, and our youngest deals with the trials and tribulations of being in high school, I can’t help but wonder how they all three inherited, or perhaps learned, their father’s penchant for worrying, doubting, second guessing, and obsessing over the what ifs. Contrast that with my own attitude of let go, let live, and let God, and I think, where did I fail to instill in them a belief that worrying is a total waste of time?
I recently read an article that claimed that there is a great “connection between anxiety and a stronger imagination.” The article went on to say that “Worry is the mother of invention.” That’s funny; I thought it was necessity. Oh, and it also said that “Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person.” Um no, when my girls have a problem, they come to me. When Ken has a problem, he comes to me. My totally neurotic family aren’t able to see the forest for the trees. I, on the other hand, can see the light on the other side of the forest. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m certainly not trying to blow my own horn. I just haven’t been able to reconcile, in my own mind, how and why worriers are the way they are and the rest of us aren’t. If it were really as simple as “Overthinking Worriers Are Probably Creative Geniuses,” as the title of the article suggests, then why does Ken not have a creative side while I write fiction?
I was at an impasse trying to figure this out until this past Monday, and then the light through the trees became even brighter as understanding dawned on me. I was in a meeting with a wonderful group of women whom I am so lucky to be able to call my friends. Many of us have been meeting every other Monday for the past twelve years. We pray, discuss, read, and learn, and some of my greatest revelations have come from those Monday morning meetings. We were watching a short video in which we heard, over and over, people saying that they always worried, were never content, and were constantly searching for happiness and the meaning to their lives until they realized that they could only find true joy in God. When they learned to let Him guide them, take away their cares, and be the light at the end of their tunnels, their entire lives changed. And that’s when it hit me. It’s not about being creative versus neurotic or being intelligent versus imaginative. It’s about knowing that there are many things in this world that are simply beyond our control. We can only do so much and have to have faith that the rest will turn out okay.
This past weekend, I helped chaperone a group of high school students on our school’s annual trip to New York City. We arrived back home after midnight on Saturday, and on Sunday, I chaired our Post Prom’s Bingo. I had several friends comment that they couldn’t believe I was able to go away for the two days before our biggest fundraiser. I didn’t see the problem. I had everything ready the night before we left, and I had confidence in the others who were assisting me with the event. While there were things that I would like to tweak for next year (including not holding them the same weekend for my own body’s sake), the event was a success, we made money, and we’re ready to move forward. I could dwell on the fact that turnout wasn’t as high as last year, so we didn’t bring in quite as much as we had hoped, but I can’t change it, and worrying about it won’t make a difference; but analyzing why we had fewer people and planning the next event will. It’s all about keeping perspective. Staying calm, making plans, evaluating results, and moving on are the keys to success.
Do I worry about things? Sure I do. Every. Single. Day. I worry about about the future of our country, but I can only look out for my small part of the world. I voted, and then I had to let it go. I can’t change minds or hearts, but I pray that God can. Do I worry about the safety of my children? Absolutely. The health of my parents, the state of world affairs, the future of our school? I’d be living in a dream world if I didn’t. But do I dwell on them? Not for a minute (okay, last night, for maybe longer than a minute).
What I always do is pray every day that my children will learn to let go, let live, and let God. To worry about the future is futile. To dwell on mistakes of the past is incapacitating. To fear every possible outcome is debilitating. But to have faith that you have done what you could, and let the rest happen, prepared to move forward no matter the outcome, will allow you to walk calmly ahead and deal with the consequences. The next time you find yourself giving into worry, go forward, into the trees, and have confidence that there is light on the other side. Your attitude, and a bit of faith, will make all of the difference.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.
No offense to any new moms out there, but you have it easy! Those first few years of parenthood are both wonderful and exhausting. Sleepless nights, changing diapers, choosing a preschool, putting them on the bus, teaching them to make friends, watching them make the wrong friends, helping with homework, cheering on the sidelines, cleaning scraped knees and wiping snotty noses and tear-stained faces are just some of the painful joys of parenthood. But I have to be honest with you, looking back, it was actually quite easy to raise children. It’s once they hit high school that everything changes because that’s when you realize that you are no longer raising children; you are raising adults.
I liked raising children so much better than raising adults. I have such a hard time letting go. It just seems so much easier for me to fill out forms, contact teachers, cry to (and about) coaches, and make the tough decisions for them. I want so badly for them to advocate for themselves, but I can’t help myself! I am always fighting the urge to step in, and I often lose the battle. If you think that watching your child fall off a bike is hard, try watching them fall in love, fall into the wrong crowd, or fall on their faces literally and figuratively. Being able to pick them up, cradle them in your lap, and kiss the hurt away is infinitely easier than mending a broken heart or being on the other side of the slammed door. Being a guide and mentor would be easy if I didn’t want so much to be at the reins, controlling everything that happens in their lives. As if I could have stopped that bike from falling…
Raising adults is a lot like raising puppies. You discipline as best you can, hoping they understand that it’s out of love, you scold and yell to stop them from doing something harmful, you keep them on a short leash for as long as you can; but then you realize that there comes a day when you have to trust them, leave them alone, let them wander, and pray that when you or they return, nothing has been damaged beyond repair. There will be accidents and incidents, and no matter how old they are, they will try your patience and make you so angry you see red, but deep down, you know that all they really want from you is your love and attention.
I still have a lot of learning and letting go to do. It’s not an easy road, and there are many bends, dead ends, yields, and U-turns, but I know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. My mother and I don’t always agree, and we had our share of arguments when I was becoming an adult, but there’s nobody in the world whom I love, respect, and enjoy spending time with more than her. I can only hope and pray that I can be as lucky with my three girls. Correction, my three young adults. Loving them while letting them go is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I know that someday we will all reap the rewards.
Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.