Yesterday, I watched my 16 year old son, my middle child, play in his men's volleyball team and I saw a boy on the verge of manhood.
Once my shy, sensitive, quiet boy with many anxieties and fears is now accepted as 'one of the boys'. The teammates congratulate each other with the sportsmanlike pat on the butt and high fives! They celebrate the wins, and support each other in the losses.
On the way to the game we were chatting about my son's successful week of work experience with a carpenter/builder last week. It was his first exposure to being on the tools in a real working environment.
He wants to be a carpenter. He knows it with conviction. It lights him up and he feels no doubt.
What an amazing thing for one so young to be so certain of his purpose.
At 46 I am still trying to figure out what my purpose is, other than being a mum and wife!
Whilst chatting to my son, his future flashed through my mind. I had the sense that his life will be great. He is already aligned with his passion and has direction.
I spent many years worrying about my son. His formative years were very difficult and our circumstances were challenging. He was very protective of me, even at the early age of 4, and he also had issues with separation. I would drop him at childcare on my way to work and he would scream as I left. It was heartbreaking. The early years of primary school were the same. Some days he would not get out of the car and I would have to walk him in to the classroom.
I realise now that my son didn't feel safe. For a long time neither did I.
For many years he wouldn't settle at night. He couldn't fall asleep, and when he did he had bad dreams. He was also very angry. Angry with me, angry at the world. We sought help and support, and were very fortunate to eventually find a wonderful woman who helped my son finally find a way to articulate his feelings.
All I could do as a mum was give him love, be consistent and function through structure. They were difficult years, and exhausting.
My son found balance through sport. He has a natural ability. He achieved his back belt in Taekwondo by the age of 11, played footy at the local club and participated in many school sporting activities and competitions. At the end of his final year of primary school, he received the sports award from the school.
I cried in that moment. I couldn't stop. They weren't just tears of pride as a mum, but also joy and celebration. That award was more than just an acknowledgement of his contribution to the school during that year. It signified his healing. His acceptance of all that was and his journey of processing and personal growth.
Fast forward to the now and it hasn't been easy. We have navigated more challenges through the years with our family. My recent journey through breast cancer has been very difficult for our kids. All six of them have coped with it in different ways.
Sport has been the way my son has coped. As I watched him play his game alongside the men in the team, some much older than him, I saw a boy who is confident, happy and ready for the next stage of his life.
As my son and I discussed his work experience, I asked him if he still enjoyed it by the end of the week. He answered and said, "I would love it even if I didn't get paid to do it". And there it was. The moment I realised he has found his purpose.
People who are aligned with their purpose and passion have flow in their lives. Opportunities arise for them in amazing ways.
I know that my son will not have the struggles that I have endured. As long as he is feeling joy through his work and his life, he will be happy. As parents we all long for that for our children. We hope that they will not know the struggles that we have experienced.
There will be lessons, no doubt. His life will change in years to come. He might have his own family one day. He might decide on a career change, or run his own business. Who knows. But for now, knowing that as a young man he has direction is actually a relief.
There is so much pressure on young people nowadays to figure out what they want to do. Navigating preferred pathways is much more complicated than when I was at school. It is almost overwhelming how many different options there are available to school leavers now. There is a big emphasis on attending university. This is not for everyone, and even once you have completed your degree there is no guarantee of employment.
I feel a sense of peace and immense pride in regards to my son's choice to be a tradie. I have a quiet knowing that all will be well. It was worth all the difficult times to now witness his evolution, and I couldn't be more happy for him.
My Dad said to me once when I was in my early 20's, …"I may not always agree with your decisions, but I will always be here to support you". That has always stayed with me, and I aspire to do the same.
Whatever my kids decide to do in their lives, as long as they are happy and are following their inner guidance system that I have taught them to listen to, I know they will be successful in this game of life.
As parents, we can't ask for any more than that…
With love, Ali.