Relationships are tricky. There isn’t one formula or blueprint that works for all relationships. Flexibility is key but making proper adjustments within the boundaries of each relationship can be grueling. It’s easy to give myself benefit of doubt and assume I’m good at adapting, but I know that’s a little overreaching.
I like things to go as planned.
Last year, my son was a senior in high school. As the year tarried, I reached for meaningful ways to connect with him. I knew I had to move from manager to consultant in his life, but I couldn’t be sure how that would happen. I landed on having lunch with him once a week and allowing him to lead the conversation, ask questions, and connect on his terms [over a meal]!
The once a week lunch date was so special I knew I wanted to carry the tradition on with my daughter. I had the high honor [sarcasm font] of graduating kids in back to back years. There was one thing I did wrong, though. I failed to consider how different her schedule was, how limited our gluten free/dairy free options are in our small town, and how I might need to adjust my expectation about how our lunches would pan out.
Instead of picnics by the river, we had picnics in our backyard. Instead of the same day each week, we picked whatever day worked best. Instead of meeting at various restaurants around town, we stuck with one.
After finding our own rhythm, one that looked very different from the year prior, we grew to enjoy sharing a meal, each other’s company, and heartfelt conversations. Sometimes, I asked questions. Sometimes, she asked for advice. Like the year prior, I had to remember to arrive without an agenda. I reminded myself to be the consultant in the relationship, not the manager.
Launching kids in back to back years was rough. It pulled at all my emotions and threatened my security, stability, and sanity. It also gave me a renewed perspective. I wasn’t losing in back to back years, I was gaining. My seniors taught me how to adapt to their personalities and needs in unique ways. They helped prepare me for a home without their daily presence by flooding my heart with connection.
Relationships are tricky. When we think we can make one plan and lay it over the top of all relationships, we will be easily frustrated and sorely disappointed. If you find yourself wanting everyone to behave or respond in the same fashion, maybe it’s time to lift the blueprint and adjust your expectations. I’ve found when I do that, it creates new opportunities and depth in the relationship.
Sometimes, if feels easier to give up when navigating the shifting nature of relationships. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on senior lunches this year. Yes, they looked different, but they were a gift to our relationship. I can’t say I’m jumping up and down about sending my daughter 1,200 miles away, but I am at peace. She knows my heart and her place in it.
Embrace the uniqueness of each relationship. There’s much to gain if we’ll put in the work.
#momentoftruthmonday #relationships #adjustyourexpectations #lifelessons #graduation2018