My only daughter recently left the safety of her cocoon — our home — for the first time to embark on a new journey into college. She is the third child to leave home. Over the past twelve months, it appeared as though our house was not big enough for my daughter and the rest of our family (her step-father, younger brother and me). Her angst to sprout wings and fly straight into adulthood could be felt by all with each encounter we had with her. Every word that spat out of her mouth was one of defiance and assumed authority on every subject. Fortunately, I understood this yearning for independence and did my best to patiently guide her through those moments of growth that were painful for us all.
At this turning point, I found myself thinking back to the time I was pregnant with my daughter. Most parents can recall that pre-birth time; the incredible excitement and anticipation dampened by a thin veil of fear. Months pass, and the mother often becomes incredibly uncomfortable as her body morphs into something unrecognizable even to herself. Looking down at her belly, forgetting where her toes once were because it has been so long since she has seen them. She cannot imagine how much bigger this baby is going to get for there is not anymore room for it to grow. The time finally arrives and she gives birth to the most gorgeous and amazing baby. And, of course, no other baby is ever as beautiful as one’s own. And I was no different. Enveloped in maternal bliss for awhile, marveling over my newborn and, sensing life is perfect, and not allowing myself to believe that the moment wouldn’t last forever.
Not unlike awaiting for the arrival of the birth of one’s child, in the late teen years most parents begin to await the arrival of the departure date into their child’s new life. There is not a home big enough to fit a teen’s new-found sense of freedom. As parents, it is easy to feel displaced and ill at ease during this period. As we allow space for our child’s new life to unfold, they are busy discovering their desired destination and sprouting the wings they will need to get there. They gain the momentum to grasp and unravel a beautiful web of life. When we give up the struggle to contain them, we give them permission to make the transformation and emerge into their brilliant selves.
It is not always easy, for as parents we often have predetermined goals and our own desired outcomes of what we perceive as best for our children. Yet our goals and desires may not resonate with our children’s soul desire and destiny. As we watch our children test this new-found freedom, it becomes our job to inspire and guide them as they venture off alone. They may have moments they take a wrong turn, but trust they will arrive at their destinations.
My two older sons are discovering their adult selves as they explore diverse cultures (one is living in Costa Rica and the other in Belize). My daughter is learning who she is outside the context of home at a four year university. My youngest son is a high school student still with us at home… though I know that all too soon my husband and I will have a chance to experience his birth a second time as well.
Joan VanEyll brings many years of personal and professional experience to her work as a mentoring consultant through her personal development company, Hearts of Healing. Through one-on-one coaching, small group sessions, workshops, lectures and other speaking engagements, Joan’s work facilitates an integrative healing process that allows individuals to discover their own power and potential, reclaim their unique voice, and fully realize the personal and professional life of happiness she believes we each deserve.
An ordained Minister of Peace with the vision of assisting others in finding their Soul-purpose in life, Joan co-founded F.A.C.E (Families Advocating for Change in Education) and is active in many Minnesota organizations including the Academy on Violence & Abuse, Domestic Abuse Projects (DAP), Lutheran Social Services, Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, and the Southern Valley Alliance for Battered Women and Children.
Through the Minnesota school system and as a Certified Special Olympics coach, she has served as a mentor and mother for many lost children helping them find solace from and safe passage through the storms of life. Joan’s passion for helping others is born from her own personal narrative, as told in her candid memoir The Forgotten Child. She considers it a sacred privilege and honor to accompany others along their own journeys to wholeness.
Online at www.heartsofhealing.org.