I Don't Need An "I Told You So"
Updated: Dec 9, 2021
I have looked forward to this year for a long time. I told myself I was going to embrace every possible moment of my youngest son's senior year in high school. I was going to enjoy all the little moments as well as the memory-building momentous occasions. I pictured days filled with joy, while I inhaled all these "last" times to do all the things I've been doing since Kindergarten. Last first days and last performances. Last report cards and last final exams. Last time to pack lunch (I still do it) and last time Dad irons the uniforms (he still does that). Here we are in December already and I feel like I've scored a C- at best in my efforts. Those joy-filled days have often been filled with anxious-ridden nights and weekends helping him prepare for college and learning from all the mistakes I've made along they way.
I've traded joy for impatience. I've traded appreciation for expectation. I didn't realize how much effort goes into college before you actually get into college and how little time is focused on enjoying what is supposed to be the very best year of high school. He's had many acceptance letters, scholarship offers, and all the things that make me so proud. From the outside looking in, he's done an amazing job figuring it all out.
I've tried my best to offer advice when I felt it was needed, and to step back and let him navigate through it all himself when necessary. I've failed a lot. We've missed things. There are many things I wish he would take more time to do, but having a child with a very different personality than me has taught me to "let it go" when I so badly want to keep offering my 1993 college advice...as if NOTHING has changed since I went through this process. We've had many victories, but if I'm being honest, I've skipped celebrating them. I've been focused on the next thing, thinking my job as a parent is to prepare him for all there is to complete in the next few months, that I just missed these invaluable tiny moments.
After getting back from a really amazing college visit to Arizona, I immediately went back to focusing on all the tasks that lied ahead of us. And then I said it..."I told you you should have done that three months ago!"
And his reply punched me in the heart. And it's just what I needed to refocus.
"Mom, right now, I don't need an I told you so."
He needed encouragement. Isn't that what we all need some time? When life is stressful, overwhelming, and we're trying to do the right thing, we just need someone to uplift us. A pep talk to let us know it's all going to work out. No words at all. A hug. A high five. The assurance that no matter what, we are loved and enough. Those words really pierced me that day. It was such a powerful reminder that life and process isn't supposed to be perfectly planned. It's supposed to be hard and messy and difficult to manage some days. We don't need to be reminded of mistakes or oversights to make us feel badly about our choices, but rather to remind us of all the valuable things we are learning along the way. Life can be hard, so we need those that love us most to be there for us when we them most.
Maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe I did deserve an A for all I'm learning along the way too. After all, I don't need an "I told you so" either. I just need what any parent needs...a reminder of what we have done and what we are doing is simply enough.