I had a dream last night. Ok, so it’s not going to be as profound and inspiring as Dr Martin Luther King’s, but stay with me, it might be worth your time.
In my dream, my son and I were hiking on a beautiful mountain trail. To our right were fields of bright, purple and yellow wildflowers dotted with wild horses grazing. To our left was a steep hill; dense with birch trees.
It was beautiful, and I was with my son.
I remember thinking this moment was worth all the hard work of parenting. Arriving at a place of complete contentment and simply enjoying each others’ company was priceless. It was so freeing not having to parent him in any way, not having to fix a problem, and not having to worry about his health and well being. It was just me and a person I truly enjoyed spending time with. It was peaceful.
As we walked the trail became smaller with room for only one, maybe two, side by side. We turned a corner and came face to face with a wild horse. We stopped, marveling at how close she was to us. Assuming the horse would walk to the right and up and around us towards the wildflowers, we backed up a little.
Instead, the horse looked to her left and rolled off the trail down the steep mountain side. We were shocked and horrified. Why had she chosen that route? Why would she risk that outcome when a safer, easier one was to her right?
Then the worst happened. We didn’t notice the foal at first, but we quickly saw what was about to happen. In slow motion the foal followed the mother’s path and began to throw herself off the steep side of the mountain; rolling in slow motion, her long, unsteady colt legs flailing in the air.
And then I woke up.
It doesn’t take a PhD in Psychology or Dream Interpretation to figure this one out.
Our kids are watching us.
And, as if I needed one more reminder in that lesson, the following conversation happened this morning.
Son: Making some derogatory comment about himself
Me: Son, you are too hard on yourself. Stop putting yourself down
Son: Gee, where do you think I learned it?
OUCH. And true.
And I am the horse that keeps throwing myself off the cliff. And my kids are watching.
I wrote about it years ago. You can read it here. What Are They Going To Catch?
But now it seems the stakes are a little higher, and it is “What Are They Going To Catch” 2.0.
I am watching my boy in the middle of big life decisions. I am watching him try to figure out the next right step; and he is a little stuck.
And so am I.
My dream was a reminder that my kids are watching how I handle life.
Am I showing them how to operate out of fear, or faith? (Uhm… fear)
Am I showing them how to take needed risks? (Answer is no, in case you were wondering.)
Am I showing them that you don’t need to have it all figured out right now – just keep taking steps in the right direction? ( I don’t have to answer that, do I? You see the pattern right?)
But today, after my dream hangover has begun to wear off, instead of being down on myself, it has motivated and inspired me. It was a fresh reminder that even though my kids are technically adults, they are still watching. And how I choose to live can have an impact on them – for the good and the bad.
When they were younger it was easy to model what I wanted them to see…
Be Kind. Be Honest. Work hard. Don’t pee into the wind.
But now I am asking them to do things that I am not modeling. And my dream was a wake up (pun intended) call to take a right and run through the meadow of wild flowers!
And maybe take a risk or two
So, what are your kids watching?
Also, I would like to point out the real miracle in this story… I was actually sleeping deep enough to have a dream that I remembered.
And also, I am sorry for the shameless use of Carter’s pictures from his hike.