After surviving another stint of music camp, we picked up my youngest daughter this past Sunday. Arriving early, her bags were packed and we loaded them into the car. Waiting for her concert, we set out to check her art. It is a rustic camp in the woods, known for its artistic education, rather then comfortable camping.
Blue Lake is a magical place, set among the pines of Michigan, nestled near a quaint picturesque lake. Electronics are not allowed, leaving space for creativity and relationship building. The cabins are rustic, lacking water and electricity, but they are filled with laughter, fun, and friendship. Girls gathered together sharing experiences from the day, while preparing to settle in for the night. Spiders and mosquitos share the space covered by the moon and starlight.
After hours of practice, free time involves reading, sketching, or perhaps a friendly game of Uno. Life is simple at Blue Lake. It is regulated with a creative flair. The stage is set, and the players are in place. Learning about punctuality, preparedness, and professionalism, they come together as one unit, an orchestra.
After checking the art, we head to the performance shell. Still outside, seated on wood benches we locate a place to see my daughter on stage, careful not to be blocked by a pine or a person. She is present, ready to begin. This group of teens, together for only a short time, begins their musical journey.
She has learned much from two years of camp. Her skills on the cello are increasing, but what’s as important are the life skills she is gaining. This year, she made friends and stayed positive during the transition. She’s already anticipating a return visit next summer. This year was easier for me too. I missed her, but I was confident in her abilities to manage her world.
Big growth requires big moves. Leaving home for a week and a half, living in a bit of discomfort, and working towards a goal brings ultimate satisfaction. Staying comfortable, brings immediate ease, but for long term satisfaction, a challenge is needed.
Susan J. McFarland
August 6, 2018
You can’t make every team or have all the experiences. My daughter has practiced her sport for a solid two years. She has played in middle school, attended camps, had private lessons, and played for clubs. Yesterday, after grueling tryouts, she found out she didn’t make the freshmen team. The school and the pool of girls this year is very competitive. She says she’s good, happy the pressure is off. Still, my mind in swirling with the next steps. What to do? She wants to play club again, but without a practice and games, she will lose her momentum. She has three months to wait while the others will be playing nonstop, putting her further behind.
Trying to be a supportive parent without intertwining my life with hers can be difficult. While I wasn’t excited about daily practice runs or weekends filled with tournaments, I’m sad about the interactions I’ll miss with the mothers of the other girls and the experiences my daughter could have had, but won’t. Reconciling my own emotions with the situation is tough. I want to fix it. I want to put an immediate plan in place to help her achieve her goals. Realizing her goals are more about the friendships and fun, over actually mastering the sport, I step back. Volleyball is one of her vehicles to a social experience. She plays primarily for that reason. Understanding this and being satisfied that this is enough is hard.
As a parent my goals and my child’s goals differ. When they are young, we can push our agenda onto them. I’m certainly guilty of this behavior. As they grow older, they begin to determine what’s best for them. I am still here to offer suggestions. Guiding and directing, as needed, but no longer being the decision maker, is my next step.
High school starts this year. It is a new era to test out different paths. My path is to let my daughter figure out her life, supporting her more in the background. Her path is her path. I’ll let her decide on that.
Susan J. McFarland
August 10, 2018
Little growth happens daily, in preparation for the big days. Driver’s training starts today for my oldest daughter, ready or not.
Sometimes we are ready for change and it just feels right. Often we are met with change and we just have to move forward. What we practice daily can prepare us for these moments. Relying on walking and yoga, to maneuver my way through the little and big changes in life, helps to steady my internal balance.
Sending my daughter to a friend’s house, I will not even be there to drop her off or pick her up on this momentous day. It is a weird feeling, not being needed, after ten years(she was adopted at age five) of constant care. I handed her the receipt and sent her on her way. This is a sign of things to come. What control I thought I had is vanquishing and I’m left holding space. My daily practice must stay steady, in order to quell the unsettling feeling I have as a mother releasing her child into the world.
This is where my growth is happening, as I watch her mature. We both must try new things, separately. For each journey is unique and different. We can both grow, but it is an individual process. I must let her move forward, in order to ensure my own forward motion. I will meet this movement, as I face everyday on my walking path, with steadiness and anticipation.
Susan J. McFarland
July 9, 2018
Susan J. McFarland