i am the mother to three wonderful children. My oldest son Skyler is 24, my daughter Kaydren is 21 and my youngest son, Derek turned 18 in December. Derek was born on December 6th, just three days before my birthday. He has been my birthday gift ever since.
I love all of my children. They are each different, unique and have their own special qualities that I admire so much. All three are such blessings. My youngest, though has a special place in my heart since he is my baby. He also happens to be a miracle. A year before finding out I was pregnant with Derek, my doctor had told me I would never be able to conceive again. After several months of feeling tired, sick and exhibiting the signs of pregnancy, I met with my doctor because I thought I was anemic. I was surprised, yet elated to hear the words “you’re pregnant!”
From the time I heard the news, I began playing music to Derek. I had read in a book that it was good to play music to an unborn child. I love all types of music so I would listen to jazz, classical and Motown. The group Chicago and Steely Dan have always been favorites so I’d play their music at home and in my car. When Derek was born I would listen to Enya, Basia and Sade. The result, Derek has become a very talented piano and saxophone player. He loves all the same types of music I do and piano and the saxophone are my favorite instruments. He’s smart, dedicated and exhibits many of my personality traits. I recall when he was three years old. I was sitting outside. Derek walked out and said “mom!!! Look at the sunset! Isn’t it “blootiful?!” Words spoken straight from my own mouth.
When Derek was eight years old he begged me to allow him to take piano lessons so I did. I have always nurtured all three of my children’s interest. I feel it’s important to allow our kids to explore all things they love, support and nurture their interests in the hopes they will excel and take it to the next level. When Skyler was younger he was determined to become a plastic surgeon when he grew up so at his insistence I allowed him to watch all of the health channels. Especially those that focused on plastic surgery. His infatuation changed after watching an episode that focused on breast augmentations. Kaydren was going to be a veterinarian so against my better judgement (I have a phobia for spiders, frogs and cats) I allowed Kaydren to bring stray cats home, frogs, spiders and I even allowed her to nurse a robin to health. The robin died and so did the babies. I know what you’re thinking? Were you nuts?! I think I was. Kaydren and Skylers interests always changed but not Derek’s. He still loves music, books and even politics. Despite all of the ups and downs, successes and failures I have always assured my children that whatever they chose to do in life I would support them, encourage them and be proud of them. I’ve also always said these words “I believe that whatever you do in life, you’re going to do great things and make a difference!” I believed that the day they were born and I believe that 24 years later. My kids are awesome. I have also always told my kids “you’re beautiful and perfect in every way!” Words I yearned for when I was growing up in a very dysfunctional home.
Today Skyler is 24 and after four years of college, he’s still trying to find himself. I’m ok with that. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the year he’s going to make a difference. Kaydren is going to college and recently discovered she’s going to have a baby. She’s due in July and will welcome my fist grandson. I am elated and can hardly wait to become a nana. Derek has grown in to a young adult. He is a senior in high school now. He will be graduating this year and heading off to college. He has shared he would like to pursue a career in music and education. I have to admit, I wasn’t surprised. Derek called me the other day. He shared he was slightly confused and overwhelmed what to do with regards to his college education and career goals. He has narrowed his choices to two universities and is adamant about his career choice. He has received lots of positive advice from his dad, step mom and nana but their advice falls short of doing what he wants to do.
As parents we want the best for our children. We offer unsolicitated advice and more often than not, we feel we know what’s best for our children. It’s human nature. What I’ve discovered though, is while what we think would make us happy, isn’t always what would make our children happy. After I graduated from high school I pursued a career as a flight attendant. I didn’t want to be a flight attendant. In fact, I had a dream to be a writer and an actress but at my fathers insistence I went to every interview available in the hopes of becoming a flight attendant. I was never hired by the airlines and the rejection only added to my low self esteem. My advice to my son was to do what made him happy and not what made us happy. I explained to Derek that this was his life not ours. It was important for him to pursue his dream and not everyone else’s. I’d hate for him to be unhappy trying to make his parents happy. I reminded Derek that he was awesome and regardless what he did, I knew he would go off and do great things and make a difference. I assured him I would support him and be proud of him in whatever he chose to do. I’d love to see my son become the President of the United States but that’s my dream…..not his. We ended our phone call with me encouraging Derek to follow his dream and give that dream everything he’s got. I said “I love you and I will always be proud of you. Remember that!!”
The following day I was at the gym. As I was walking on the treadmill listening to music I found myself still thinking about my conversation with Derek. I remembered the song “Come Sail Away” by Styx. It was my graduating class song. I looked it up and as I listened to the words I remembered having the same fears as Derek did when I was a senior. I sent Derek the following text:
“Derek I chose this song 4 u 2day because it was my senior song. I like it because the words really reflect the life ahead of u. U need to b the captain of ur own life u r free to do what is right for u. Do what makes u happy The road ahead may seem scary but it’s my guess u will sail away and go off and do great things as long as u do what makes u happy not what makes others happy. Like I said be the captain of ur life and have faith everything will fall in to place. I love u Derek. I’m praying for u every day. C u soon”
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I’m sharing this on my blog today because I know there are parents experiencing the same thing. Your child is graduating from high school and will soon be leaving home. Your parenting days will change but I encourage you to support your children in whatever they feel is right for them. Remember this is their life, not yours. There will be successes and failures along the way but as parents we need to support our kids and allow them the opportunity to follow their dreams. Allow them to be the captain of their own ship. They have to be free to face the life ahead of them. Easier said than done, but necessary.
This song is ironic. The beginning of the song resignates with my son graduating from high school. He’s sailing away to the virgin sea. He’s 18 and he wants to be free to face the life ahead of him. He’s starting his life and as a parent, I’ve reached the part of the song where I’m looking back to my last day of high school and recalling the dreams I had and never pursued. I didn’t fulfill my dreams but that’s no reason for my children not to pursue theirs. I’m looking forward to the day all three of my children are at the stage I’m at in my life. My hope is that when they reflect on the dreams they had when they were young, they will be able to look back and say “look how far I’ve come. I achieved everything I ever wanted and more”. That’s my wish for my kids. What’s your wish for yours? I wish happiness, peace, love and abundance for Skyler, Kaydren & Derek, but most of all I wish that all of their dreams come true.
I will be done with treatment by the end of May. I will be playing this song in my car as I drive home to Washington and leave San Francisco behind. As Derek sails off to the virgin sea, I will too as I begin my life over again only this time I’ll be the captain of my own ship.