There are 2 ways in which you can think about life:
If -or -when.
For example (taken from the mouths of babes):
When I grow up, I’m going to be a doctor…. OR….If I go to college….
When I’m playing soccer for West High….OR….If I play soccer in high school…
When I have a family one day…OR…If I get married…
When I become a safety patrol….OR…If I become a safety…
When I make the honor roll….OR….If I make good grades…
The mind can go either way, will you or might you? Sometimes I think my children are a little too confident. Just yesterday, Anna said matter-of-factly that Brody is going to be jealous of her car because she’s getting a jeep. She’s not sure what color yet. She “is going to be a teacher” but she also says “she’s going to be rich because her husband will be a doctor”! 😉 And then there’s Brody who will argue back that he’s going to the rich one because first he’s going to first become a doctor, either radiologist or surgeon. Then, he’s opening his own architecture firm. And finally, he will become president because Trump became President only because he’s rich, right!?
I love it and won’t say that I rule against these plans. Go for it, I say. But not just for these lofty goals, GO FOR IT ALL. I completely love and admire their goal-driven, get-‘er-done mentality. In fact, I do believe this is one reason that my son can live with a brain tumor and excel at life. Brody doesn’t pause to think that maybe this could slow him down or may alter his plans. Nope. He’s got plans and a little brain tumor isn’t going to stop him. Nothing is. In his mind, if he wants it, he will get it. He’s not second guessing himself or wishing he will do something in the future. Instead, he knows what he wants and decides it’ll happen.
Stubborn, that they are. Born that way, with sleepless nights, refusal to crawl, or take a bottle or pacifier. Our pediatrician told us this character trait would pay off, that these are qualities we want in our kids (but at the time, I just wanted a mellow baby that I could put down and that could just chill!). Fast forward and now they are still fairly headstrong and determined.
But, I get it now. Whether is living with a brain tumor diagnosis or just deciding to read 2 novels in a week, it’s just something my son decides to do. It’s him and not me. It’s taking control of his own life and choices, instead of just letting things happen to him. When he makes plans for his future, I thank God. Thank you for letting him live with happiness and hope. Thank you letting him live his life instead of worrying about the worst-case-scenarios. Man, kids can teach us a lot.
When as parents we start to get caught up in worry, I can look at my children as a reminder of today, right now, and what we can control. I asked Brody today, one day after his MRI and appointment, how scared he was yesterday on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the most scared. This is a child who was terrified of needles when he was a toddler and had to be restrained at the pediatrician. He said he was a 1 yesterday! And when I asked him when he’s been the most scared in his life, he laughed and said he can’t remember. “I can’t remember my whole life!” Then when I pressed him fully expecting him to say when he had brain surgery or found out he still has a brain tumor, he said it was probably “Emerald Lake”. (What!?)
That was the time a couple years ago when we were in Colorado. Bo was driving our rental car up to Emerald Lake, past the point of no return. The mountain bikers looked at us like we were nuts as he kept driving up a single lane, dirt road. It got steeper and steeper with a drop off right on the edge of the road. We were all freaked and that just pissed Bo off. I wanted out of the car and Brody told Nana that he was NEVER coming up there again when Bo turned the car around mid-road with a 15-point turn! That is the time when Brody was most scared!? That’s awesome. 🙂 (But, we got nice pictures like below as a result of the drive!)
If we choose to live with intention and purpose, then we just move forward. When we live with doubt and second guess ourselves, we are not living our fullest life. (Yeah, sounding a little Oprah-esk, huh!?) Make a plan and stop wishing.
If or when? We choose WHEN.